Saturday, 3 September 2011

Challenging rape stereotypes.

Today I held my first workshop at the DIY feminist festival in Manchester. For the subject I chose rape myths. When asked, the group discussed what rape myths are and provided a variety of excellent examples. One that they neglected to mention however, is the myth that you can tell a rapist through their appearance and that you can tell who is a real victim through what they look and act like.

I asked the group to draw a stereotypical rapist and then what they think a real rapist actually looks like. I gave them the option to do the same thing with the stereotypical view of a victim. The results were interesting, as well as having a good laugh at our drawings we discovered that a few different people drew very similar things.

The victim stereotype was repeatedly drawn as:
-Big breasted
-Dressed provocatively

The rapist stereotype was repeatedly drawn as:
-Well built
-Strong features
-Big eye-brows
-Angry and evil looking (knives and fangs)
-Jumping from a bush or alley way

These are really excellent observations of stereotypes we are all passively fed all the time. Everyone drew similar things, which shows it’s a shared stereotype that is widespread. The ‘realistic’ drawings showed a real understanding of the type of people who really do commit rape - the complete opposite of the stereotype.
My favourite is Ellen’s drawing of a geeky looking boyfriend holding gifts and love hearts because the most common perpetrators of rape are partners, not knife wheedling fanged maniacs in bushes.

Thank you to the ladies who came to the workshop for letting me post their drawings - they’re all really good and you all had some interesting and well informed things to say.