Less than a couple of weeks ago, the Roastbusters revelations rocked the news and the blogosphere. It was huge, it was horrific, and it got the idea of rape culture into the mainstream media. It was the start of some really important conversations about consent, about what rape is, about how we treat rape survivors. It was A Big Deal.
But less than a couple of weeks later, it’s settled down. The important open conversations about rape, victims, and law enforcement processes have died down in the public eye, and we just don’t know what has happened behind the closed doors of police policy-makers and national law-makers. It’s a dead topic out here though.
The great dissemination of information about consent and rape culture that was happening all around and the push of feminism into the mainstream has also died away. Average Joe has forgotten about it – it’s yesterday’s news.
This is what happens when something dramatic like this explodes all over the news. It has a distinct shelf life, and that shelf life is not long at all. When time is up, it fades away, and fades from memory. It’s why disaster relief is advertised in the media long after the first shock is over – they still need help, but the news window is firmly closed.
It was great to get the ideas of consent and rape culture out to the public. Some of it will stick with some of them, and it will change a few lives. But next time something like this comes out, we will still get people like John Tamihere and Willie Jackson making misogynist, hurtful remarks about people who have already suffered so much. There are still going to be people who will say things like ‘she was asking for it’. The media rush about a single event like this is just never going to touch that kind of people.
It there and answer to this, a way to keep the message alive and let it sink in? I think it starts with kids. Teaching in school sex ed needs to cover ideas about consent, the need to detail exactly what rape is and who ‘deserves’ it (psst, it’s no-one). They need to be upfront and frank about those things the way they are about the biological processes.
I don’t think that will happen any time soon. There are too many conservative parents and lobby groups who already hate sex ed in it’s current form, and change will take a while. I hope that I see it, maybe even as soon as when my girls hit high school.