Over the last couple of days, Twitter has been a dark place as allegations of sexual assault takeover the timeline. Many came forward to share their stories, which led to a list of Twitter accounts of the alleged perpetrators being compiled and circulated across the platform. Once the list became public, tensions got high rapidly as everyone became aware of those stated on the list. As the timeline watched the trauma of individuals unveil, we saw individuals find the courage to speak out; reliving their experiences as the accused spoke against claims made against them. The timeline came together as users gave each other support and courage during this difficult time, reassuring one another that it was time to speak out and tell their truth. Men began to see the fears many women live daily, coming to terms with how common and recurring sexual assault was amongst the community they thought they once knew.
As a Black woman with my own experiences, I began to question whether the term “rape culture” was really understood. As I thought to myself are individuals including myself calling out actions that fall within this culture? Or people even aware of their own actions that contribute to rape culture? I began to feel myself get emotional as I thought about situations where behaviours such as stalking, victim shaming and rape jokes were simply overlooked. These are just a few behaviours that excuses and supports rape culture when tolerance is shown to such events. In many of these instances, some are made to feel as if they are overreacting when it takes place. This must stop! Rape culture needs to be called out with immediate effect to change the outcome and behaviours of perpetuators and enablers.
Complicity ends now. How? By educating yourself and others (if you have mental capacity to of course!) on the different behaviours that support rape culture. This may not be easy, but it is time to have these uncomfortable conversations with those in close proximity to you. As shown below, there are different behaviours categorised as normalisation, degradation and assault. Which gives us a visual representation of how tolerance of the behaviours at the bottom of the pyramid supports those higher up.
Calling out all the behaviours within this pyramid is crucial, as a lack of acknowledgement for behaviours in the normalisation section excuses assault and degradation. All of these behaviours are just as serious as each other. For instance, a behaviour which has been overlooked on numerous occasions from personal experience is unsolicited nude pics. Such situations can be difficult to address, especially when feeling violated. However, I now see the importance of calling out and stressing the seriousness of this action prior to hitting that block button!
Another behaviour and term that was new to me was “stealthing” which is defined as covert condom removal. As much as we know what makes us feel uncomfortable or violated, never be afraid to speak up as there are behaviours many are likely to realise in fact support rape culture. This can be distressing, so please take into consideration your mental health and the content you consume. As conversations continue on Twitter, let’s be mindful of how we approach and navigate with others as this can be a very triggering time. Be cautious of what you send to friends and family, remembering to always put a *TRIGGER WARNING* when making a post.
If you have been affected by the recent events please see some resources below for ease compiled by Heather, or view the full Twitter thread here. If you would like to add resources to the continuing list, please feel free to reach out to Heather.
HERSANA: An NPO providing Black survivors of gendered violence with support, access to justice and counselling.
Lifecentre: UK based charity that supports male and female survivors of rape and sexual abuse of all ages. Offers a national helpline and a counselling team based in Sussex.
One In Four: Advocacy service, counselling service (available over Skype and in several languages) and information for people who have experienced sexual abuse.
Supportline: A confidential telephone helpline offering emotional support to any individual on any issue.
Mankind: Provides one-to-one counselling, therapeutic groups and couple counselling to men (age 18+) who have experienced sexual abuse at any time in their lives.
Statement from GUAP:
“At GUAP we stand against rape culture, and do not promote, encourage or believe in behaviours which support or excuse this. We will ensure we stand by what we say by not being complicit and addressing behaviour of such nature under any circumstance. A value we hold highly at GUAP is integrity:
Integrity – What are you doing when no one is watching?
This applies to people we work with and people that are currently on the team. The safety and well-being of those we work with is crucial.
Moving forward we will work endlessly to ensure the content we produce, our team, those featured and individuals that work on our behalf hold the same values.”