Rape is worth the alarm

What does it mean to live in a society where “rape culture” exists? I found out on-field when I was covering a local breaking story.

The news was about alleged cases of hold-up, robbery, and rape in Dasmariñas that went viral through an alarming tweet of a young woman. I went to the police station to verify what was otherwise hearsay. For the nature of my job, I needed to find out the truth about the cases. But I found out more than that.

That day, I was sent to the women and children crime division where I waited to get an initial interview with who supposedly is the head of the department. While I waited, two police officers were in the room with me, and we all talked about what I came there for. So it went on, but later for the sake of proving a point, the male police officer told me “sa lahat naman ng lugar may ganiyan (rape).”

“Lalo na sa tulad ninyong mga babae, walang kalaban-laban.”

I was appalled. He was obviously trying to trivialize what happened, true or not, to say that it wasn’t worth the alarm. If I had let him speak further he would have continued his monologue about us, the youth, and our overreaction. I told him it wasn’t our fault we are scared, but I was too dumbfounded with his misogynistic remarks to say anything more than that. 

His point, if carefully thought about is this: don’t make a fuss out of it, rape is everywhere. 

If one thing comes and passes by, it’s sadly true that it becomes a thriving culture that is accepted, but you don’t need to be a law enforcer to help stop welcoming rape in the city. The thing is, if we don’t change the way we think, there will be more cases of sexual violence that will be seen as a part of an endless, helpless loop that’s not worth the alarm. Nothing could be worse than rape culture in a country of impunity.

According to the Center for Women’s Resources in 2017, one woman is raped every hour in the Philippines. This hard fact, however, isn’t the entire problem yet, but the cultural and social stigmatization that force women to keep silent and belittle their own suffering.

if we don’t change the way we think, there will be more cases of sexual violence that will be seen as a part of an endless, helpless loop that’s not worth the alarm

In the book “Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture”, Roxane Gay writes about spending half her life succumbing to society’s notion that what happened to her isn’t that bad, and that she was lucky she was just raped but not killed. 

“I fostered wildly unrealistic expectations of the kinds of experiences worthy of suffering until very little was worthy of suffering,” she writes. 

Suffice to say, this is what it means to live in a society where rape culture exists: women are told to their faces that rape is everywhere, women are forced to rethink damage, and women should apologize for the alarm.

Thank God, I’m not killed.

Sorry to have made a fuss about it.

If I could go back to the conversation I had with the police officer, I’d flip out Roxane Gay’s book and read these words: “No, I will not be grateful for my rights. I will stand with two feet on this earth and I will always say thank you when someone does something kind and sorry when I’ve done something wrong and never outside of that. And yes, I am furious that I am pulled between poles of gratitude and apology—both of which are violent erasures.”

And probably add: rape is not everywhere. Rapists are.

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