Maintain the Rage!

I’m still in the midst of an unprovoked writer’s strike. I had so many things to be indignant about and so many things to say, but no words to put them in. I am so despondent to the state of my nation right now, victim blaming, jobs insecurity, racism, inequality. It’s all happening and I feel absolutely powerless to fight. So in order to stop bottling up the angst (and also to give my gorgeous Twitter people a break from me) I’m writing.

Trigger warning for rape and violence. Language warning: NSFW.

A fourteen year old girl says she was gang raped in a suburban park on the weekend. She described her alleged attackers to the police who then released these descriptions in the hope someone in the community comes forward. Which then activates the victim blaming questions: Why was she out so late? What was she wearing? Why was she on her own? Even the media waters the severity down “An unprovoked sexual assault”. Really? Which rapes are provoked? Why is there such hesitation to use the word rape? Then of course the racism starts “Oh look at the men from that culture who brutalise women and gang rape” Blergh. Because no white guy has ever raped and certainly no group of white guys have ever gang raped *insert sarcasm emoticon here*.

What about “Why the hell are there six men gang raping a young girl”?” “How the fuck did these six men discover that they all enjoyed to pack rape?” “Why on earth do they think it’s okay?” Where are the men in our community coming forward to denounce these crimes?

This article is actually good:

Another recent and still developing story is a 13 year old girl ‘married’ off in an illegal under Australian law, religious ceremony. Her ‘husband’ is 26 years old and was discovered when he tried to enroll her in high school.

What the actual fuck?

A Lebanese university student accused of marrying and having a sexual relationship with 13-year-old girl was formally refused bail by a Sydney court on Friday.

The man, 26, was living in Australia on a student visa when police arrested and charged him with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with an underage child.

No that’s rape. She is underage and uninformed. She is deemed too immature by Australian law to make a decision to engage in a sexual relationship with anyone. Yet here we are saying it’s ‘sexual intercourse’ like it’s okay because they were ‘married’.
I’m trying to maintain the rage, but I feel so bloody defeated. You know, I don’t go out after dark, even though I should be able to, because of the risk of attack. We know the statistics in this country means I am actually more likely to be attacked by someone I know, in my own home, yet the rape culture that exists means that I have to stay indoors unless I’m with someone else (my husband) after dark. It means that I can say “no” to a man when I’m in a social situation, but he keeps on pressuring me to talk to him and expecting me to go home with him (I don’t think I blogged about my work Christmas party experience, it wasn’t bad by any standards but it was unpleasant to eventually be pushed to say that my husband was at home with my two year old daughter and I have not been engaging in any conversation with you tonight besides “yeah the weather is a bit warm, isn’t it?”) Maybe it was the dress I was wearing. However there’s that culture shining through again. I should be able to wear whatever the fuck I want without sending some fucked up message to a guy that I’m an easy target. Who decides which outfits mean a lady is happy to sleep with you anyway?
Women such as Jill Meagher, Anita Cobby and Joan Ryther are the examples our community uses to highlight rape culture. These women were all doing what was their right to do. They were all ‘good’ members of society, a media employee, a registered nurse, a sales attendant in a fast food restaurant. They were all married. All ‘attractive’. Two were walking home and one was walking to work. All were after dark, all were ‘unprovoked’ (as the media so distastefully likes to report, because you know, I’m sure all of these women would have asked to be violently raped and murdered) and all were major cases in Australian history.
In recent times, two young men have died in very high profile circumstances as a result of being punched (again that word ‘unprovoked rears its ugly head) in the head by someone who was very drunk in the infamous Kings Cross area of Sydney. These two deaths were absolutely abhorrent, the community and the media rightfully stepped in to try and seek some justice for the two dead men and also to do what was possible to prevent it happening to anyone else’s son. I have a 22 year old brother, he likes to party in Kings Cross and I know I do not want to be going to the morgue to identify him. So yeah, anything to try and prevent this senseless (there’s another totally useless describing word which states the obvious) violence is okay by me.
Among the initiatives are mandatory eight-year prison terms for anyone who fatally punches someone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
Hang on a second. “Eight-year minimum sentencing for alcohol or drug-fuelled assaults ending in death.” Does this mean that if the offender isn’t drunk, they don’t get punished? What if the offender bashes the person senselss, or kicks them in the head, is there room for movement legally? “CBD/Kings Cross venues to have 1:30am lockouts with drinks stopping at 3:00am”. Oh good, lets turf all of the drunk people out into the street to fend for themselves with no taxis (3am is change of shift) and reduced means of other public transport as the trains stop at 2am. 
So where does the community stand on violence against women?
Domestic violence may end in homicide. Through the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP), the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) monitors trends and patterns in homicide across Australian jurisdictions. The NHMP data are the most comprehensive collection on homicide in Australia, providing details of victims, offenders and the circumstances of incidents. Of the 260 homicide incidents in 2007–08, the majority (52 per cent) were classified domestic homicides involving one or more victims who shared a family or domestic relationship with the offender. Thirty-one per cent were intimate partner homicides. Fifty-five per cent of female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner compared with 11 per cent of male homicide victims. Indigenous people were overrepresented in intimate partner homicides; one in five (20 per cent) victims were Indigenous, as were nearly one in four offenders (24 per cent)
Where is the rage? Where is the mandatory minimum sentencing for the perpetrators of domestic violence homicides? Where are the public campaigns to change the mentality regarding domestic violence? Why do we as a society care more for young guys who die in violent attacks, over people who are killed by their partners in their home? Neither is more important than the other, both examples of life are of equal value. Yet while the front page of the tabloids are screaming in disgust over the deaths of two young men at the hands of drunken violence, stories of women who are killed at the hands of the men who are meant to love them, are left to languish on page 12 or not even make it print.
Of course not all women who die as a result of domestic violence are ignored by the media. In Sydney today, Simon Gittany was sentenced to a non-parole period of eighteen years, maximum twenty six years, for throwing his fiance Lisa Harnum off the fifteenth floor balcony of their apartment in the Sydney CBD, resulting in her death. The city has been captivated by the case where witnesses saw the lifeless body of Ms Harnum plummeting to the ground and the CCTV footage of Gittany smothering her face with his hand while he restrained her, in the elevator of their apartment block.
Although I accept that the intention to kill was formed suddenly and in a state of rage, it was facilitated by a sense of ownership and a lack of any true respect for the autonomy of the woman he claimed to love.
Changing culture doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over time and only when many people change their mindset. Teach your sons to respect women, teach your daughters that it is okay to be independent and get help if they fall victim. If you hear somebody say “Well what was she wearing?” challenge them by asking “What does it matter? He should not have raped her!” We as a community need to stand up and say that violence against women is not acceptable. That violence is unacceptable regardless of the person who is being victimised. Our sons should be able to go to a pub without fear of being punched and killed. Our daughters should be able to live in their homes without the fear that their partner will beat them to death. Our children should be able to walk home from their friends’ house without the fear of being attacked.
I would love to know your thoughts, please be aware that I have moderation for comments switched on.

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