Edinburgh, and a few other universities recently banned Robin Thicke’s song ‘Blurred Lines’ because of the belief that it “promotes Lad and rape culture”. Anybody who has spent time at Loughborough will be aware of the fact that Loughborough’s Lad culture is very much alive; it is one of the effects of having a sporty university with a high male to female ratio.
However, the recent rise in jokes about rape has become all too common. It was only the other day that the project Everyday Sexism raised awareness about the fact Ebay and Amazon were selling t-shirts with the caption “Sometimes no means yes” and “Potential Rapist” emblazoned upon them. Even Loughborough’s infamous ‘Spotted’ Facebook group had a post which “jokingly” advised a girl to get the sprint bus home instead of walking.
Some people may brush such incidents aside claiming that it is a joke. It is easy to make light of something that hasn’t happened to you. Last year I briefly touched upon the issue of sexual assault in an article when I spoke of an incident that happened to a female student at Loughborough where she burst into tears during a one night stand and the male carried on.
However, it was a couple of days ago after I shared a link on Facebook to a blog called Project Unbreakable, which features real quotes that sexual attackers and rapists have said to their victims, that a girl who I used to go to secondary school with messaged me to tell me that she was raped last year and to thank me for sharing the article and trying to raise awareness about rape culture.
She told me how she was raped by someone from her course at knife point after a night out. She never reported the rape because:
“As a law student, I know only too well the dismal outcomes of the vast majority of rape cases. I’m only all-too-familiar with the culture of victim-blaming and the horrific techniques defence lawyers use to try and disprove victims and witnesses of rape”
But also because for days after the incident:
“I became obsessed with washing my hair, my clothes, scrubbing my skin until it was red raw. I even put make up on the bruises on my body… any crucial DNA evidence that was clinging to me that night was gone.”
She told me she feels “ashamed” that she never reported the rape but professional counselling has helped her come:
“To accept that my mind was on autopilot, that I wasn’t thinking straight at all, and I was simply acting on instinct to get any traces of him off of me.”
She told me that she still had “horrific nightmares” about the attack and still has trouble mentioning the word rape. Yet incredibly she still finds that some of her friends “still think it’s acceptable to make rape jokes about it as if it’s an everyday thing”. Rape jokes, she says, make her feel “sick”, and she cannot understand how people find:
“The endless nightmares, the pain, the feelings of guilt, disgust and embarrassment, not to mention downright shame funny”.
That is the thing about rape culture, the people who make the jokes are not the ones dealing who have to deal with the devastating, long term impact rape inflicts on victims on a day to day basis. The girl I spoke to admits she took to “drinking a ridiculous amount” after the attack before she undertook counselling.
The account of the rape and the effects it had on the victim have been heavily condensed for this article, but the full account was one of the most upsetting things I have ever read. If I could give any advice to freshers it would be: help change the Lad culture at Loughborough and rape culture as a whole. During your time at Loughborough, you will undoubtedly incur the wrath of Campus Living and Unite and be slapped with a hefty fine, and you will, at some point, be as helpless as a baby in the kitchen for the first few weeks, but they are obstacles that are relatively easy to overcome.
The obstacle of rape culture is something that requires more effort on our part to overcome. Joking about rape or wearing “funny” t-shirts regarding rape is something some people find easy to do because they have never gone through it themselves, but victims of rape, both male and female, it is no joke but a reality.