Post by WAVAW Staff, Sonmin Bong
It was on my walk home from work. I was very much immersed in a conversation with my partner about ways, and I mean hundreds of different ways, women navigate misogyny and rape culture and cope with their own experiences. Yes, women’s resilience, strength, resistance, and survival strategies inspire and reinvigorate me. It was a casual (and very usual) evening conversation.
Until I spotted this sticker proudly displayed on what looked like an expensive sports car.
I stopped. I read the sticker once, twice, three times. I shouldn’t be but I was surprised that someone took the time to (a) purchase the sticker and (b) actually put it on their car. I stood there for a few seconds. I knew I had to share it with the other WAVAW women so I decided to take a picture of it. But first, I had to look around to make sure that no one was walking towards this car. After all, I didn’t want to get into a conversation with the car owner about what I think of their sticker. Not even a little bit. I knew I would feel extremely unsafe engaging in that conversation.
Ever wondered what we mean when we say we live in a ‘rape culture’? Here is a microcosm of that culture for you. Ever wondered what those ‘rape jokes’ are all about and why women can’t just take jokes? Take a look at the sticker again. Read it again. And this time read it out loud to yourself and someone else. Keep reading it and think about how many times a ‘joke’ has been made about this sticker. Think about how many times the car owner was asked how much ‘ass’ they have gotten in this car. Are you still laughing or are you starting to cringe a little bit?
This isn’t just a silly sticker someone decided to put on their car to crack a few jokes with their buddies. Instead, it speaks to the kind of climate we live in and serves to remind us that patriarchy and misogyny are alive and well.
It is more than a sticker; rather it is a reminder:
That women’s ass is a commodity that can be exchanged for a car ride;
That objectifying women’s bodies is acceptable;
That our ‘ass’ can be measured up to things like marijuana and gas;
That women can be expected and/or asked to pay back with our ‘ass’, which really means that rape is justified under the circumstances that women cannot pay back with marijuana or gas;
That our safety is not guaranteed and definitely negotiable in the hands of those who are doing us a favour;
That asking for a ride from someone we know instead of taking public transit at night does not equal safety whatsoever;
That women more likely to get sexually assaulted by someone they know;
That women should smile and nod at ‘jokes’ like this one just in case we ‘provoke’ the misogynist driver to inflict violence on us;
That our ways of navigating safety in rape culture could be interpreted as something as ridiculous as ‘implied consent’ in court;
That there is no definite way we will be safe from violence.
This is not just a sticker. This is a threat to our safety. This is your daily reminder of rape culture.