Check yourself

Ending sexual violence may seem like an impossible goal. But change starts on a very basic level- with our own actions. Take a step back to evaluate your behaviours and see how we all contribute to sexual violence. Check yourself!

1. Do you joke about rape? Check yourself!

Have you ever said something like: “That math exam raped me” or “ I got totally raped in Call of Duty last night” or “Your team got raped!”

Using rape as a joke in conversation implies that you think rape is not a big deal and that rape does not have an impact on those around you. Although we don’t often think that a joke can affect others around us, it is important to consider that we may be silencing or upsetting our friends, family members, and acquaintances who have been impacted by sexual violence. Those people may be less likely to talk about their experience, report their assault, or seek support for coping if others brush off sexual violence as a joke.

 

2. Do you make excuses for your friends’ 'perpy' behaviour? Check yourself!

Have you ever had a friend who has…

  • pushed someone’s personal boundaries?
  • kissed, grabbed, or fondled someone without their consent?

 

The first step we can all make is to acknowledge that our friends are not exempt from being perpetrators or contributing to rape culture. The next step is to start actively condemning this behaviour, whether that means not laughing at offensive jokes and comments, removing yourself from problematic conversations, or when you feel safe to do so  – calling them out. 

 

3. Do you pass on 'tips' ? Check yourself!

Passing on “tips” or telling people that they need to do certain things to stop themselves from being sexually assaulted puts the responsibility of sexual assault on them instead of the perpetrators. 

4. Do you make your partner feel guilty for not wanting to engage in sexual activity? Check yourself!

If we guilt-trip someone about not having sex, then we are disrespecting and undermining their choice to say “no” and therefore their choice to freely say yes. Pressuring someone to have sex with you is a form of coercion. Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect for each other and their decisions. Consent must involve the active choice of both individuals. Wouldn’t you want your partner to respect your decision not to have sex when you don’t want to?

5. Do you refer to women as “sluts,” “whores,” or “bitches”? Check yourself!

These terms are very degrading to females. Even if you use these terms jokingly or lightly, this language reinforces ideas about women being inferior to men and less deserving of respect. When one group of people is valued less than another, people can easily use this as a justification for violence against them. So even if you mean nothing by using these terms, you’re inadvertently supporting people around you who may actually mean what they’re saying.

6. Do you expect sex when you do something nice for your partner? Check yourself!

  • Sex is not a favour or a reward.
  • Sex is not something you should earn or something you are owed.

 

By putting an expectation of sex on your partner when you do something nice, you are taking away much of their choice in the matter. Whenever someone’s choice to say no is compromised, this is coercion.

7. Do you whistle at or make rude comments to people on the street? Check yourself!

This is sexual harassment. Maybe you may think this is flattering, but when you’re whistling at or making sexual comments to a stranger on the street, think about your motivations. Are you doing this because you think the person would genuinely appreciate your actions, or are you doing this to impress your friends and because it’s funny to see people’s reactions? If it’s the latter, then your motivation is about getting power and control over someone. Not so flattering anymore, is it?

8. Do you make sexual jokes even when you know it makes someone uncomfortable? Check yourself!

No, they are not being “too sensitive.” They are uncomfortable because you are pushing their boundaries when they have made it clear that they are not okay with your actions. Making sexual comments or jokes that make that person uneasy is sexual harassment.

9. Do you spread rumours about people’s sex lives? Check yourself!

Think about the impacts before you make off-handed comments or start rumours about the personal details of an individual’s life. Talking about someone’s sex life without their consent is another form of sexual harassment; it is an invasion of both their privacy and their sexuality.

10. Do you grab or grope people without their consent? Check yourself!

Grabbing or groping someone without their consent is sexual assault. Even if you don’t think groping someone is a big deal, any form of sexual contact without voluntary consent is an invasion of personal boundaries and an example of sexual assault. It shouldn’t be socially acceptable to grab someone’s ass at a house party, or to grind someone on the dance floor without their consent.

We are all capable of engaging in some of these behaviours; it doesn’t mean that we are all bad people. We need to stop making excuses and recognize that these behaviours are contributing to the problem. This means holding ourselves and those we know accountable.