I came across the It Happens Here campaign on the weekend via twitter. I am deeply saddened that Oxford University Students Union is running such a badly designed campaign.
The article “Making Consent Count: Rape Culture in Oxford and Beyond” written by Sarah Pine demonstrates many of the problems with the campaign; most of which can be summed up with this sentence: “(t)he lack of communication during sex leads to rape.” This sentence genuinely appears in a paragraph extolling the virtues of checking consent.
A “lack of communication” does not lead to rape. Rapists rape because they chose too; not because they forget to “communicate” with their “partner”. This is a rape myth. This is why rape culture flourishes: because people genuinely believe that rape is a failure to communicate. A campaign about rape culture which lists this myth as fact is not a safe space for victims of sexual violence.
The article goes on to discuss how stranger rape is the most uncommon form. It then suggests that the vast majority of rapes can be prevented by the perpetrator checking for consent:
Whilst there are occasions that don’t fit this pattern, many of these encounters could be avoided if the perpetrator had cared to check for the consent of their partner.
I am honestly in shock at this statement. Pine basically claims that rape happens because rapists don’t value communication enough to check that they have consent. Rapists are not misunderstood men with poor communication skills. Rapists don’t check for consent because they don’t care. Rapists rape because they chose to rape and not because they are confused about “communication”.
Ironically, Pine, who is the Vice President [Women] of the OUSU, genuinely seems to believe that the importance of the campaign is that we live in a “world that normalizes sexual violence, and excuses perpetrators from any responsibility for what they have done.” The entirety of her article excuses male sexual violence against women. It creates rape as a misunderstanding rather than a crime with a clear perpetrator who choses to rape.
I came across this article when I googled the campaign. This is the page that I first came across on twitter:
- Do you recognise yourself in one of the stories shared on this blog?
Or does a story remind you of something you once did?
Realising you may have perpetrated sexual violence against another can be a harrowing experience. Please think carefully about how you choose to respond:
- Please have a look at the Respect website, and consider using The Respect Phoneline – freephone 0808 802 4040 – a confidential helpline for domestic violence perpetrators.
- You might also consider contacting the University Counselling Service for support.
- If you want to be in touch with the person you have offended against, you must recognise that this may re-traumatise the survivor. Therefore, do not make contact with them directly. You may wish to approach someone at your college – such as a welfare officer – as an intermediary to convey your wish to communicate to the survivor. If they choose not to respond, you must respect this.
- You might consider sharing a story on our blog, from your perspective. Please note, however, this will be subject to the blog’s moderation policy. Particularly, it will not be posted if it in any way appears to excuse or glorify sexual violence.
- Harassment by aggrieved perpetrators or other parties, either to survivors or the
- website administrators will not be tolerated, and will be reported to the appropriate authorities.
There is so much wrong with this page that I am genuinely struggling to know where to start.
- Rapists do not “realise” they have committed sexual assault. Rapists rape because they chose too. They know perfectly well they are rapists and do not need to read the stories of victims to “realise” this.
- Being raped is a “harrowing” experience. Being a rapist is not.
- Rapists do not need to contact University Counselling Services for “support”. They need to contact the police for the protection of women.
- Victims need support. Rapists need to stop raping.
- Rapists have no right whatsoever to contact the woman they raped. Even suggesting this is disgraceful.
- A university welfare officer who contacts a rape victim on behalf of their rapist should be fired immediately. That is the very antithesis of a “welfare officer”.
- Giving rapists a platform to share their story does nothing to end rape culture. It just perpetuates it.
Rape Crisis [England/Wales]: 0808 802 9999
Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088010302
NIA: Delivering Cutting Edge Services to End Violence Against Women and Children: 02076831270