Trigger warning for discussions of rape culture.
I've spent a lot of the last week thinking about rape culture. This is partly because I don't spend enough time at parties, but mainly because there seems to be a lot of it about lately. Take last Monday, for example, when overproduction at the fuckwit factory produced the #ItsNotRapeIf hashtag. Surprisingly, for something that should have been pretty straightforward, the sheer weight of inaccurate definitions made the hashtag trend, at which point most of my feed began either stabbing their own eyes out or mercilessly mocking the cockends responsible.
A day or so beforehand, and just two years after the rest of the internt, I'd discovered the Dickwolves controversy. To be honest, in this case I was more shocked by the whiney, butthurt and self-righteous response of the comic's authors than by the joke itself. That's not to say the original comic didn't cross a line - it did - but it edged across it, while the #ItsNotRapeIf hashtag cleared the thing like a triple jumper.
Then last night The Guardian reported that another member of the Met's specialist anti-rape unit may have in fact been working for the Met's secret specialist pro-rape unit, both of which have the exact same name and membership. At least two officers from the Sapphire unit are now under investigation for tampering with evidence in order to sabotage, derail or simply end ongoing rape investigations. Read that again. Police officers have been breaking the law in order to help rapists get away with it. I genuinely thought the behaviour of our constabulary couldn't shock me any more - I expect them to be venal, violent, self-serving, greedy, corrupt, selfish, lazy, uncaring and bastards - but something about this really took my breath away. While we don't know all the facts yet, the most likely explanation for this bullshit behaviour is that officers routinely assumed that women who reported crimes were lying. Indeed they were so sure of this fact that they broke the law in order to make sure that no proper investigation could be conducted.
It's sometimes hard to see the links between rape culture and its effects, but in this case I think the lines between the dots are clear and stark. These are men so distrustful, hateful or contemptuous of survivors that they'd risk everything to help those accused escape justice. This is rape culture made flesh, the logical end product of a society that thinks that rape is something safe to joke about and acceptable to ignore.
I could write a long, sad, angry missive about these things and how they tesselate, but this clusterfuck of misogyny has already made me feel pretty shit and powerless. So instead I'd like to ask: what can we do about it? The police may be broadly untouchable - you can't even shoot at them these days without the nanny state breathing down your neck - but rape culture, while pernicious, is surely something we can have an effect on? I'd like to write more about how here, but the topic is far too big to tackle in a single sitting. To that end I'll be applying both of my brain cells to the problem in upcoming blog/s, and sharing my naive/patronising thoughts with you, my already well informed readers. Feel free to tell me this is a bad idea. Otherwise, stay tuned.