I laughed quite a lot when I first watched this video over a month ago, partly because I could really relate to what she’s saying.
I’ve been afraid of rape since I was eight years old*, probably around the same time I started worrying about breast cancer**. For some reason, the newspapers of choice in our house were a couple of those tabloids, which always seemed to relish describing the sordid details of attacks on women, and for some reason, my parents weren’t especially strict about monitoring my reading habits. Hence, I fed myself a daily diet of rape news stories. They were not good things for a kid to learn about, but they certainly opened my eyes to the fact that such brutality exists and that it was probably a good idea for me to wear two pairs of shorts*** underneath my school uniform. Since then, I’ve been on the alert for weird behavior from males in my vicinity. In fourth grade, I noticed one of the school janitors eyeing me in a funny way, and while that often made me feel uncomfortable, I didn’t know what to do about it. Do I tell someone and if I do, will they just tell me I’m imagining things? I ended up not saying a word to anyone and just steered clear of the janitor, or always making sure there are loads of people around whenever he’s in the area. Fortunately, nothing untoward ever happened, apart from his highly suspicious grins.
It’s an issue that has never stopped to worry me, of course, and angers me at the same time, given that women are often blamed for getting themselves raped by wearing this, doing that, going to this place, and for not knowing any better, when what people should really be doing is to teach boys to, oh, I dunno, never rape.
* I was a weird kid.
** I read about breast cancer at that age, and at some point, I accidentally struck myself with the business end of a pencil and worried I gave myself breast cancer. What? I was eight.
*** Cycling shorts and a heavily buttoned pair of denim shorts, the better to deter possible rapists. My sister laughed at me when she found out.