I stumbled upon this little gem a couple of weeks ago in the backroom of a Wellington nightclub. I don’t ordinarily frequent the shambolic, gear-strewn spaces where bands do whatever they do to performance prepare, but this evening I was helping a friend to shoot some footage for a music video. While stashing all the unneeded equipment I did a little bit of wall-reading. Most of it was pretty benign but this tag stuck out.
I can only assume a guy wrote this, thinking that he was somehow being cleverly funny. Yeah, it might have been a woman, but bets are it wasn’t. I’ve spent a couple of unsuccessful hours on the web trying to find a Guardian article about rape in the UK, which is what immediately poppped into my head when I read this vandal’s contribution to the wall decorations. The article had some crazy statistic from a study in primary school children in the USA – California, I think. This study showed that something like 76% of primary school boys thought it was not rape if you forced your girlfriend to have sex with you. And something like 50% of primary school girls agreed. It blew me away.
Why this came to mind as I read the wall was because at best, it reeked of a similar ignorance for what rape is in its cruel, vicious reality. And at worst, it symbolises a cavalier disregard for the absolute central importance of full and free consent in all sexual relations. What kind of idiot thinks for a second that physcially forcing your penis – or any other part of your body – into a woman, girl, boy or man who does not give full consent is somehow as trivial as a suprise? Or even acceptable? I just don’t get it. Or maybe I do all too well but it is too sad and disheartening to think about just how far we have yet to go to achieve a society where rape is intolerable no matter what. But what is going on in somebody’s head to even think it is something to make a joke about?
If I get a chance, I’m heading back to that nightclub with a black marker pen. Underneath that tag, I will write in bold, strong letters: I’m not laughing. Why are you?
Footnote: Don’t quote those numbers above – it was a couple of years ago and while I know the stats were bad, I can’t vouch that these are the exact numbers. That’s why I wanted to find the article, but no luck.