Life is NOT black and white. Yes, there is RIGHT and there is WRONG, but the mere fact that what is right for me may be wrong for someone else forces us to realise that grey areas exist. A point where my views and your views overlap and we can’t seem to agree.
In some instances, grey areas are okay and we can agree to disagree without any sense of urgency to find common ground. But what do we do when there are matters which we can’t just sit on and ignore? Matters where we seriously need to firmly establish what is wrong and what is acceptable by virtue of societal standards?
When I say “rape is not necessarily wrong to everyone”, some people might call me crazy. But I need you to look further than your own thinking and try to understand what I mean by that. If a headline read: “HUSBAND RAPES WIFE” it would have many mixed reactions.
Person 1: “Sies, what a disgusting man.”
Person 2: “Hawu. How does a man rape his wife? Mos she’s his to have.
Person 3: “Haha. She’ll never withhold sex again.”
Again I say, we do not think the same way. Grey areas exist. So what do we do about this?
Rape is a serious crime in South Africa. Over 1 million women are being raped every year. Rhodes University has a protest every year where people stand in solidarity with those women who have been silenced by rape and those who speak out about it. According to SAPS only 1 in 35 rape survivors report their rapes. The other 34 remain silent about it.
Is it because they bear the shame for this crime that was committed against them?
Is it because “rape culture” suggests that if she was drunk or wearing a short skirt then she enticed her attacker?
Is it because if the rape happened in her home then she invited him in and therefore she had intentions to have sex with him?
Is it because she fears that the number of sexual partners she has had will come to light and contribute whether or not believe her?
Or is it because she realises that her conversation with the policeman who takes her statement is the first of many conversations she will have that will require her to relive her ordeal and to defend herself?
Rape is clearly a problem is South Africa, and it is obvious that not all of us view it in the same way. Can a prostitute get raped? Many people might think: “well its not rape if she’s getting paid for it, that’s her job right?” We do not think in the same way. But again I ask, what do we need to do?
I feel like everything begins with the individual. You need to introspect and look at the small things you allow to slide past you that perpetuate rape culture and misguided beliefs. If you take part in a twitter trending topic that says #itsnotrapeif followed by statements like: “if she says your name” or “if she doesn’t report it” and then all of a sudden 16 days of activism against women and child abuse comes along and you tweet the gospel on why this is wrong, I can’t take you seriously.
We don’t think the same and what may be a simple joke to you may be rational thinking to another person. Men need to speak to men, women need to speak to women about the “small” things you say about one another that foster a thought process that says “if she was wearing a mini skirt then…” Or “if she has slept with x men then…”
A verse in The Bible, Songs of Songs 2:15 says: “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines. For our vines have tender grapes.”
It’s the small things that we allow and brush off our shoulders that perpetuate certain behavioural standards. And until we grab hold of the inappropriate jokes and the unacceptable ways in which we refer to one another, we will not be able to make a dent in the sexual violence problem that exists in our nation.
How will you convince a man it is wrong to rape his wife if you joke about rape from time to time? Rape is wrong and it is a serious matter. We need to get rid of the notion that it isn’t, no matter what the circumstance.