Published in The Malay Mail Online
When is it okay for a woman to be gang-raped?
If a recent Twitter kerfuffle is to believed, it is when you are infuriated by the woman, and when that woman has wounded your racial pride.
Just a few days ago, a number of Twitter users were up in arms against an aliased woman, whom we shall refer to as Ms A, who tweeted: “Tak kagetlah kalau satu hari nanti Ms B (name also redacted) kena rogol beramai-ramai gara-gara mulut lancangnya. Itu pun kalau orang selera lah.”
Ms A’s tweet roughly translates to “Not shocking if one day Ms B gets gang-raped because of her sassy mouth. That is, provided, there are those with an appetite for it.”
It is important to note here that Ms A has apologised for the tweet, which she has called an out-of-character heat-of-the-moment thing, and has since deleted it.
I bear her no ill-will over that tweet, nor do I think she should be judged solely by that tweet, but I do feel a discourse on the significance of that rape-enabling tweet necessary.
Her apology did come two days after the sickening tweet but that was only after several attempts by Ms A to justify it, sometimes with claims that she was misquoted.
According to her, she did not wish for Ms B to be gang-raped, but only that she would not be shocked if Ms B was indeed gang-raped.
Is that supposed to be any better?
Firstly, we should be shocked whenever somebody gets gang-raped. The moment we think a gang rape is fine and dandy, or even worse justified, that is when rape culture wins.
To put it simply, rape culture is when rape is considered an acceptable and normal consequence for the victims, who are mostly women, and that the victims are responsible for getting raped in the first place.
It is when rape is excused, tolerated, and even condoned.
Which brings me to the second point in the tweet, in which Ms A thought it would be normal if Ms B gets gang-raped because of her words.
In what way is a woman allegedly being mouthy an excuse for her to deserve sexual violence?
Do we think it is wrong for a woman to be able to express her mind freely, regardless whether she offended someone else or not?
Would it be okay if an offensive man gets gang-raped? Of course not, but at the same time, it also seems unlikely that somebody would wish him that.
It is much easier to bully a woman for not conforming to some sort of patriarchal standard — in this case, a woman cannot be sharp-tongued, foul-mouthed, or even opinionated — lest the men get upset with her before proceeding to a gang-rape.
This was one of the lines of defence used by Ms A against Ms B, whom she claimed was hated by so many people for her opinions on a certain seemingly-privileged race group, that she was bound to be gang-raped one day.
She even compared it as such: a sassy woman would be gang-raped, as naturally as somebody who eats eight bushels of rice would get fat.
Which brings me to the third point in that tweet, that people will only rape because they “have an appetite” for it, or in other words the sexual urges to do so.
This is a fallacy, for rape is not about sex. It is about power.
Reading rape news in the media would easily tell us that there are no boundaries for rape: every strata of women can be affected, from the very young to the very old, from the very poor to the very rich.
It has never been so much about the rapists being sexually attracted to the victims, but instead a psychotic need to exercise their power over the victims.
Perhaps, it is too easy to attribute this to a culture that so easily blames the victims for “leading on” the rapists.
We see so many mothers in denial whenever their daughters complain of sexual harassment from the fathers, with the daughters scolded for supposedly fibbing.
We see politicians, spiritual leaders, supposed paragons of religion, saying that it is only natural for “sexy” and scantily-clothed” women to get sexually harassed and raped.
We see cases where the authorities feel the need to ignore rape complaints, or even cover it up, to keep the good name of highly-ranked and “respectable” figures.
But I am starting to think that the blame is on us. For keeping nonchalant when somebody, even women as in this case, make threatening rape remarks on others.
The blame is on the women, whom after seeing Ms A’s tweets, not only failed to call her out but proudly pledged support for her against Ms B whom they so hated.
The blame is on Ms A, for not only saying it in the first place, but even after apologising, labelled those who spoke up for women and against rape, as mere “keyboard warriors” looking to fit in.
When is gang-rape okay? Never. Gang rape is never okay.