Friday, August 5, 2016

#PrataOmDet / #TalkAboutIt

The first few people I told about being raped either didn't take me seriously (Shanghainese police) or didn't believe me (members of the Australian Consulate/Embassy in Shanghai). What I mean when I say the police didn't take me seriously is this: They nodded when I explained what happened and took the offender in for questioning immediately, but neglected to interview me in any depth and dismissed both of us after (allegedly) beating the offender up. (I only have the offender's word that the beating happened, though it does seem, in my opinion, likely to have happened; the offender sought medical help and seemed unsettled afterwards.)
Perhaps more damaging to me was the female worker at the embassy/consulate who immediately questioned my account of what happened. I believe she said something like: 'If you were raped, why did you keep sharing the same hotel room with him?' She non-verbally implied that I was a threat to the offender's reputation. Always placing the man's authority higher than the woman's. Even though he wasn't in the room and she had never talked to him, the offender had a voice more powerful than mine. This was 2006, before the current feminist revival.
All this denial of justice and my authentic voice led me to believe that, in China, 'rape' doesn't exist. I believed that the Communist party had brainwashed the populace into denying the existence of anything that could be described as rape. I told this to my Dad when I was in the hospital. He didn't reply. He must have thought that nothing I said during that time made sense. He had no idea what I was going through, although he loved me and wanted me to feel better.

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25% of women describe being forced to have sexual intercourse against their will. In other words, 25% of women admit to being raped (though not exactly in those words). Remember that.

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I hate to admit it, but I am still somewhat afraid of disclosing what happened to me. I'm aware that victim blaming is rampant, and many out there consider women who are raped to be 'damaged goods'. I'm happy that I stay far away from the misogyny I identify as such. I don't emote with men (or women) who slut-shame, or espouse puritanical views. I surround myself with proud, capable women who consciously identify as feminists. I get my emotional cues from them.

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Be part of the solution: Talk about it. Talk about when someone crossed your boundaries. Talk about when you crossed someone else's boundaries and feel guilty. The more we talk about these things, the more we can put them into context, mobilise to act based on new knowledge, and change the system. 

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