#HearMeToo: The Rape Culture In Malaysia Is More Common Than You Think
Growing up a cisgender female, especially in countries where the males can be so uncivilised, is not easy. They would stare at you for the wrong reasons, say dirty stuff about your boobs as if you’re an object, and then there are also those who would touch your ass without warning, without consent, while walking past you. No bueno.
It pains me when I hear stories of women being raped by randos, young girls who became victims of sexual assault by their own family members and those who even got pregnant as a result of the abuse. What’s worse, most people tend to blame the girls for donning clothes that are too short or revealing, but.. how would they know what these girls were wearing at that point of time?
Regardless, why must anyone be blamed for their clothing choices?
Boys are just being boys
Before you start, let me acknowledge that this is not an anti-men article, but on many occasions, it seems like men often get away with everything. I’m pretty sure that a lot would agree with this statement after you’ve watched our #HearMeToo video.
When I was about 13-years-old, a male relative touched my boobs and clitoris. I was devastated that my mom told me to keep the information to myself, and avoid it from reaching my dad’s knowledge. I felt like an embarrassment, and at that point of time, I had the mindset that boys were just being boys.
But the thing is, why do we let men and boys think that it is okay for them to act that way? For instance, since we were little, if boys acted wild to girls such as pulling our hair or teasing us based on what we wear, parents would say that they are just being playful. Thus, as these boys grow up, they would believe that these actions are socially acceptable.
When will we win?
Women are just as vulnerable as before, and if we are unfortunate enough to be raped, some will still subject us to humiliation, doubt and question our promiscuity. Newsflash: Women are assaulted because someone made the decision to commit a violent act against us, in spite of where we are, how we dress, or whether we’re too social.
Young girls are always being asked so many questions by our parents, like “where are you off to?”. But do these parents ask their sons where they are going? If men are never judged for being out late, for dating, or for drinking, why should we?
The thing is, our society likes to find fault in women, saying that we are supposed to dress in certain ways, stop us from doing certain things, but nobody is looking at the real culprit here — the rapists. It sucks that because of our gender, women have to take additional precautions to keep ourselves safe from sexual assault, because, unfortunately, no one else will.
So until that happens, it’s important for you to know what you can do to protect yourselves from assault:
1. Trust your instincts
If you feel unsafe, or even just uncomfortable, go with your gut — leave the party, tell the dude you were flirting with that you don’t want to go home with him, whatever. Don’t worry about what others think or whether you’ll hurt someone’s feelings, because your safety comes first.
2. Charge your battery
Make sure your phone is fully charged before you go out, and if you find yourself in a sketchy situation — for example, a party with a guy who gives you a bad vibe, shoot a quick text to a friend and ask her to pick you up.
3. Watch your drink or ditch it
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories of young girls being drugged while out with a bunch of guys at homely bars such as those at Bangsar. Date rape drugs (anti-anxiety medications are a popular black-out favorite) are becoming more common and can be easily slipped into an unattended beverage leaving no visible trace or odour. If you have to step away, either finish your beverage or leave it behind.
4. Always carry a sharp object with you
When walking alone, at night or during the broad daylight, it is wise for you to keep some sort of a weapon handy. This may include a tiny knife pocket, pepper spray, long, sharp nails — or anything, really, that might help you fight that bastard.
5. Learn self-defense
I’m not asking you to master Taekwondo until you achieve the coveted black belt, but it would be extremely beneficial if you have the basics to fend yourself. Remember when a stalker tried to kidnap Gigi Hadid? The supermodel managed to escape the attack by utilising her boxing skills.
6. Always have your friends’ back
If one of your girls seems out of it, is way too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol she’s had, or is acting out of character, get her to a safe place.
7. If you see something, say something
Intervene if you witness an encounter that looks like another girl’s safety could be at risk. Let’s say a guy is chatting up a super drunk girl and you get a bad feeling. Step in and tell him you’re going to take her back to her dorm or apartment, or call one of her friends to come help her out.
On another note, some women can be too well-behaved. If a man ogles or gropes you, then you should slap him hard — with a chair. You should be more aggressive and scream for help to make it clear you won’t tolerate any nonsense.
So in cases where you or a friend is assaulted, you may not be sure what to do next. It’s important for you to seek help, and start the healing process by acknowledging the experience, and don’t brush it off or be in denial about it. Do not judge or blame yourself for what you did or didn’t do, because you did the best you could for yourself in that moment.
Lastly, you should always keep in mind that it is okay for you to talk about it and don’t suffer in silence. There are people out there who can help you. Speaking up can help you manage problems that are related to the assault, like nightmares, difficulty concentrating, depression, anxiety, and relationship concerns.
As for the society, perhaps, we can start playing a role to prevent these cases by teaching boys, especially during their formative years, that abuse or violence in any form is a big NO.