TW: mention of rape, sexual harassment/assault
guest post by Ana
[Re-posted with permission. Original post can be found on Ana’s blog.]
How I know Rape Culture exists at BYU:
Because my bishop taught about chastity a few months ago in Relief Society, and instead of talking about growing closer to God, he talked about how if you get raped while dressed immodestly, then it’s your fault.
Because after that lesson, my RA had to pull aside the girls on my floor and remind us that rape is never the victim’s fault.
Because my Relief Society advisor’s lesson on Visiting Teaching ended with ten minutes of advice on how to survive college, and instead of talking about how to study or how to do well she gave advice on how to not get raped. She told us to just not go dancing, to not stay out late, to use the buddy system. Instead of teaching the men to respect us and not rape us, she spent a good chunk of our worship service teaching us to protect ourselves and to avoid situations in which men could hurt us.
Because when people commend me for dressing modestly, they’re commending me not because I’m trying to grow closer to God or to show my divine worth as a daughter of God, but because I’m doing my part to keep the minds of the men around me pure.
Because before every date, my RA offers to let me borrow one of her cans of pepper spray (meaning she owns multiple cans of pepper spray).
Because when my mom heard about my RA’s pepper spray, she wanted to buy me my own can.
Because when I go running, I have to be back before dark, but my guy friends often don’t start running until after 9. They don’t understand why I feel unsafe running in the dark.
Because when I have to go up Freshman Hill in the dark at 4 A.M. on my way to work, I run as fast as I can, even though the path is well lit.
Reasons I get frustrated when people act like rape culture doesn’t exist at BYU:
Because in a survey from 2003, 90% of rapes in Provo were not reported to the police.
Because there are signs posted around campus reminding women not to walk alone after dark.
Because when I go running in the middle of the day, in very modest workout clothes, I still get cat calls and rude comments from men.
Because last semester, I was studying in the sunshine outside of Hinckley Hall wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, and a group of guys walking past started cat calling me and making rude comments like, “She wants to go out with me!” “Give me your number!” “She wants me,” “Take your clothes off!” and other comments that made me no longer feel comfortable studying anywhere but in the safety of my dorm room. It doesn’t matter what I wear, some men still view me as an object instead of a human being.
Because when I told people about the above encounter, I received comments like, “Were they cute?” “Well did you give them your number?” and “It must feel nice to get so much attention from boys.”
Because some of the campus police have the sole job of investigating sexual assault and rape (meaning that although many people I know think of BYU as a safe campus, there are enough cases of sexual assault and rape for it to be basically the main focus of those police officers)
Why I need feminism and why I need Rape Culture to die:
Because when I was 12, I wasn’t allowed to walk literally a block to the library to do my homework without taking my tiny, scrawny 10 year old brother to protect me. The logic behind this was not that he would physically protect me in any way, but that his presence would either deter an attacker or he would be able to run for help if I was attacked.
Because when I walk down the street, some guys will walk right into me if I don’t move out of the way for them.
Because I’m already mentally preparing myself to be paid less than my male coworkers when I start my career after college.
Because some people don’t take me and my feelings seriously just because I’m a woman and I’m young.
Because when I go dancing, men assume that I want to dance with them simply because I’m there even though I don’t know them and I’ve shown zero interest in them.
Because when I tell people about my plans to work for Amigos de las Americas after college and how I want to live abroad people ask, “Well what about when you get married?” because not only do they think marriage should be my only goal in life and that I need to sacrifice all my other dreams to get married, but also because it’s my second semester in college at age 18 and already my future husband’s dreams and goals are more important than mine.
Because I don’t feel safe on BYU’s campus!
Note: author has also written an addendum with more info about her post. Find it here: http://watercolors-and-wishes.blogspot.com/2015/09/an-addendum.html