Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

Never tired enough to stop

I am tired of rape in South Africa. I am tired of thinking about it, reading about it, hearing about it. I am tired of the fact that last year more than 60 000 women (enough to fill the Greenpoint Stadium) reported a rape to the police, and hundreds of thousands more women were raped but did not report.

I am tired of a criminal justice system that is failing women. Of a police system that fails women — traumatises them, blames them, and rejects their right to bodily integrity. Of a police system that drops cases, fails to investigate or fumbles investigations to the point where the information is not useful in court. I am tired of a court system that doesn’t fund enough support rooms so that many survivors must walk into a court room alone to face the magistrate who is meant to protect them, but often does not. Who would want to report a rape in conditions like this?

I am tired of people asking me if most women become lesbians because they have been raped, and of reading stories where men rape lesbians to make them straight.

I am tired of women leaders in government who spend more time defending male politicians’ reputations, than acting with integrity in the interests of women.

I am tired of law and policy that doesn’t serve women, isn’t implemented or is useless against the public opinion that a woman’s body is not her own.

I am tired of violence against women being ignored at key opportunities. I am tired of male political leaders who fail to condemn rape at every opportunity, or who jump on the women’s day bandwagon as though this is meaningful.

I am tired of the rape of girls and boys and babies and the elderly. I am tired of magistrates who don’t protect these vulnerable people and others by imprisoning rapists because their victims did not show any physical injury. Rape is an injury.

I am tired of knowing that if a male celebrity, sports star or politician is charged with rape, he will get away with it.

I am tired of bigots who say all feminists believe sex is rape — as though we are so fucking stupid to want rights for women that we must not be able to tell the difference between having pleasurable, stimulating sex and being violated.

I am tired of trying to convince men that rape is not only a woman’s issue. It is men who are raping. Rape is at its core a men’s issue. It is the failure of men to accept that their manhood need not be founded on violence. It is the failure of men to accept a woman’s right to say no, to ask them to stop. It is a failure of good men to bring up rape and sex in discussion — discussion, not jokes — and to talk about what they can do to stop it.

I am tired of media reports that say things like ”forcibly raped”. One in three women across the globe has been a victim of rape. Some have survived, others have not. Some spend their lives in fear, waiting for their turn. In all cases force was used — psychological, economic, physical — the force of a system that will not listen to them.

I am tired of rape jokes. There is nothing funny about rape. I am tired of advertising that portrays rape as glamorous or woman as sex objects. Rape is unwanted, violent, soul destroying. It is not sexy. Women are not objects.

I am tired of having to plead for changes. Of having to frame woman as mothers, sisters, daughters or as in relation to men — ”what if it was your girlfriend?” I am tired of having to make it seem as though you shouldn’t rape women because they are nice.

So on February 14 I’ll be supporting One Billion Rising — a movement that will voice its frustration with all of these things. Because I am tired, but I will never be tired enough to stop fighting for women’s right to sexual pleasure, sexual freedom and sexual equality.

Inspired by this piece.

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