Trigger up: What rape culture can do

06/22/2011

Hey reader! This post is about police violence, rape culture, and the international phenomenon of the Slutwalk. I consider this subject matter to be fairly triggering, so please take care of yourself and click away as needed. Consensual Xs and Ohs! -RD

Despite many misgivings, I decided to attend the Slutwalk in my city. Slutwalk started in response to a Toronto cop who in a fit of classic victim-blaming, told a group of students that if women didn’t want to get raped, “[they] should stop dressing like sluts.” It’s exciting that large-scale feminist demonstrations like this one are happening in my city. But I was utterly dismayed as I walked up to the initial rally not only to find a massive faction of cops rambling around, but also to overhear folks affirming the choice of the organizers to have cops present.

There were lots of sharp, insightful signs, but there were also questionable signs that enforced hierarchies of privilege. For the purposes of documentation, I tried to photograph signs moreso than any individual people or faces.  Being able to appear at any public protest (particularly this one) without fear of repercussions from one’s employer, religious community, family, partner(s), etc, is a privilege, and I didn’t want to diminish that for anyone, although there were copious other photographers present, most of whom appeared to be male and photographing people indiscriminately.

After the march we convened for a second rally. While there, I was a party to the following:

A skinny young white woman (let’s call her Pink Flamingo, or PF, okay?) is walking briskly after an older heavyset man in a green sweater (let’s call him Rat Bastard, or RB, okay?), calling out after RB “delete that picture! delete that picture! delete that picture!” PF blocks his path, “delete that picture. Please delete that picture.”

RB responds “No,” and tries to keep walking and to enter a store. One of my comrades and I follow, comrade calmly says something to the effect of “what’s going on here?”. PF tries to block RB’s path again and RB grabs her as PF says “I just want you to delete that picture.”

“Hey! keep your hands OFF OF HER!” I yell. I was upset before, but now I’m absolutely fucking livid.

An employee of the store keeps saying “this is a business, this is a business,” and another employee is getting a cop from just outside the doors. Everything happens so fast, and I am shaking, worried that PF will be arrested, or all of us.

The cops separate everyone out and talk to RB and PF. I can’t here what they’re saying to PF, but I do hear what the pig is saying to RB: “If they’re in public, you can take a picture of whoever you want.”

I wish I could think in words when I’m mad, but I can’t. If I could, I would have yelled this is what rape culture is, pig! This is why we’re here! The appearance of one’s body in public is not consent.

But this is not an isolated instance. Cops enforce rape culture every day. It’s more visible when they enforce rape culture on young, white cis-gendered people, but just as sinister (or even moreso) is the effect of police violence and rape culture on people who are marginalized by mainstream pro-cop, pro-state, pro-PIC organizing.

Some tuff bitches said:

It is not enough to ask for reform from a system that disappears people through the construction of borders and jails, while affirming cultural values about rape, gender, race and straightness. The only people who should be in the business of articulating and setting boundaries for how they experience their bodies are people themselves, NOT the State, NOT the police, and certainly not industries hellbent on manifesting insecurities that keep us tied to mythical protectors. Instead, let us consider other ways of affirming our own agency and dismantling the apparatus of the State and all of its constituents.

As anarchists, we want the extinction of police and prison culture. As survivors, we want to set the boundaries for how and when we fight back against sexual violence.

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