We have come a long way in routing the taboos that stand in the way of justice for victims of sexual assault. But there is still a distance to go. The problems are complex and rooted in centuries of culture and myth. The law, imperfect as it may be, is a powerful tool in achieving lasting change. But real justice will come only when we change attitudes—when respect for the autonomy of every person replaces old myths grounded in ownership, control, and power.

– Beverly McLachlin, Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law

Rape Culture Is Surveillance Culture

Scaachi Koul has written a piece that draws on her own experiences of men attempting to prey on her because she is a woman and while she engages in socially normal behaviour. Men who sought to prey on her were explicit in attempting to determine how they could take advantage, drug, or otherwise use her body without attempting to secure her genuine consent.

Koul’s writing makes clear the very normal, human, experiences of being targeted by men and how the intent of those attackers and potential attacker is normalized in contemporary society. The result is that Koul — and other women just like her — must treat social scenarios as a possible environments for attack or abuse. Her lived reality thus turns even seemingly benign situations into ones filled with risk. Koul’s ability to write as clearly and powerfully as she does should make clear to anyone who absolves sexual abuse on grounds of drinking that alcohol is not the problem: men who have internalized their own privilege and power and treat women as objects around them to be used are the problem.