Being a young female nearly every day I witness and am occasionally a 'victim' of male privilege. A lot of male friends I have don't necessarily believe that such a thing exists in this day and age but that is simply because they themselves never are negatively effected by it.
To give you a better understanding of what I am talking about, male privilege is saying "I have a boyfriend" being the only thing that stops a man from hitting on you because they have more respect for another man than respect for your lack of interest and rejection. There have been countless amounts of times when I myself go out and have to come up with stories so that a man would leave me alone, this even happens to men that are really nice but they just have this idea that what they want they can have. This has happened to me on numerous occasions as well - a man has become somewhat interested in me and has made out with me without my consent. They did it in not a malicious way and they weren't meaning to be harmful but because they think that it's a 'romantic' thing to do, or, again, because they think they can just get what they want.
There is also the idea of 'cock blocking' - both my friends and I have experienced being called a 'cock block'. We'll be at a bar, pub or club and one of us gets unwelcomed advances from a guy so another one of us steps in to get rid of him, then having them call us a 'cock block'. In actual fact half the time the friend doing the 'cock blocking' was following orders from the friend that the guy is hitting on. When going out we tend to have two signals for our friends: "I'm into him" and "Help me outta this!!!". The amount of "get me out of here" tactics that women have among their friends should be enough evidence of the fact that rape culture does exist.
I don't want to make this post the length of an essay but just quickly for those who don't know what rape culture is, it is an environment where rape is prevalent and sexual violence against women is normalised and excused in both media and popular culture. This kind of culture is preserved through the use of misogynistic language, objectifying women's bodies and also glamourising sexual violence - this all creates a society that disregards the safety and rights of women. Most women and girls limit their behaviour because of the existence of rape, even unknowingly. Women do this through not walking down certain streets, holding their keys in their hand as a weapon when they walk alone just in case, locking all of their car doors when they get in their care at a parking lot etc and most of this is done without women realising as it has become just a part of their every day routine. This cycle of fear is the legacy of rape culture.
Some examples of rape culture are blaming the victim, triviliasing sexual assault, sexually explicit jokes, tolerance of sexual harassment, publicly scrutinising a victims dress, mental state, motives and history, assuming only promiscuous women get raped, refusing to take rape accusations seriously, assuming that men don't get raped and teaching women how to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape.
While all of this sounds negative and dark there are ways that you can combat rape culture! You can avoid using language that objectifies or degrades women, think critically about the media's messages about women, men, relationships and violence, speak out if you hear someone else making an offensive joke or triviliasing rape and by defining your own womanhood or manhood, not letting stereotypes shape your actions! These are just a few way that we can change society for the better.
Lots of love,