Nicole: one trans woman’s perspective

4/21/13

Reposted without permission from: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/lifestyle/4867253/pre-op-transgender-woman-takes-revenge-on-childhood-bully.html

 

Bloke who ogled me in bar called me Glenda the bender when I was a boy

Nicole’s revenge as she waits to have sex op

Transgender Nicole

Looking to the future … 32-year-old pre-op transgender Nicole Gibson
Stewart Williams
Exclusive
By JENNY FRANCIS
Last Updated: 01st April 2013
 
 
 
 

PULLING pints behind the bar, stunning Nicole Gibson’s slender figure and long blonde hair never fail to get attention from men.

At 6ft and with shapely curves, the barmaid loves the compliments but admits she is still getting used to them.

Because despite her striking good looks, Nicole, 32, was born a BOY and, although now living as a female, is still pre-op transgender.

Born Glen, Nicole — who changed her name last year — was relentlessly bullied as a child and cruelly named “Glenda the bender” by some boys at school.

But now she has had the last laugh, as one of her childhood bullies flirted with her at the bar, unaware who she was.

Nicole, from Horsham, West Sussex, who is due to have the operation to complete her sex change later this year, explains: “No one can believe I’m the same person.

“When I was at school I tried to fit in with the other boys but I was a target for bullies.

 

Pre-op transgender Nicole

Curves … Nicole shows off her feminine figure
Stewart Williams

 

“I was working a shift in the local pub last year when I heard a guy behind me say, ‘Who’s that behind the bar? Phwoar! I would’. When I turned round, I realised it was one of the boys who teased me at school.

“I couldn’t resist confronting him so I walked over and told him who I was.

“The look on his face was priceless and it made up for how terrible they made me feel at school. It’s funny that the boy they bullied for being gay is now a 6ft blonde woman they all fancy.”

Nicole changed her name by deed poll last year and is now legally recognised as a woman on her passport and driving licence.

On hormone medication to help her develop breasts since June 2011, she now has a 34B bust and will have a full sex change operation later this year on the NHS.

She says: “When I was referred for treatment I wished I’d done it sooner.

“I couldn’t wait to start taking the hormones and I was shocked at how quickly they worked and I started developing hips, a bum and boobs.

“If I’m honest, I always worried people would be able to tell I was transgender.

“But I’ve been amazed at how well I carry it off and 99 per cent of people I meet have no idea. It is very flattering and has made me realise just how feminine I really am.”

After developing her new curves, a photographer friend was so impressed that he invited her in for a photoshoot.

 

Transgender Nicole

Smiling through the pain … Nicole would sneak out at night in make-up in her twenties
Stewart Williams

 

She says: “I was shocked that he asked me and didn’t think I’d look as womanly in just my underwear. But I loved the pictures and realised I was actually quite sexy.

“People who have seen the photos tell me I could give the Victoria’s Secret Angels a run for their money.”

It is not just her friends who think Nicole has the ability to wow. She attracts the attention of a lot of men.

She says: “I get chatted up a lot but I’m always aware there is a bit of a time limit on things, as I can’t let things get physical — it’s not fair on the guy.

“It’s important to be honest so I don’t want to trick a guy into bed only for him to have a shock when we get there.

“I met an amazing man last year and he knew from very early on about my gender change.

“He was OK with it and said he was shocked with himself that he fell for someone like me, but we decided we didn’t want to take things further until I’d had my operation. We’re still friends but it just didn’t feel right when we couldn’t be a couple in the normal way.”

Now Nicole is counting down the days to her sex change op, where surgeons will remove her penis and create female genitalia, giving her the body she has always dreamed of.

She says: “I can’t wait to have sex as a woman for the first time, and having seen how much interest I get from men it’s something I can’t stop thinking about.

“I’m sure there are some guys out there who wouldn’t mind experimenting, but sex as a man doesn’t feel right to me.

“I enjoy a snog but that’s as far as it goes now. I’m saving myself.”

As a youngster, Nicole could not understand why she was not allowed to wear pretty dresses.

Coming out as gay aged 16, instead of feeling relieved she knew something was still wrong.

 

Transgender Nicole as a schoolboy

Past … Glen aged nine
Stewart Williams

 

By 21 she was secretly sneaking out at night wearing heels and make-up.

She says: “At school I was bullied a lot by boys who couldn’t understand why I was different and they used to taunt me about being gay.

“They used to shout ‘Glenda the bender’ and made me feel horrible throughout my education. It was a very hard time for me.”

As she grew older, Nicole’s female urges only got stronger.

She says: “It sounds silly but I used to get jealous when I walked past a building site with my female friends and the guys wolf-whistled at them.

“I wanted for that to be me and for people to find me sexy as a woman, not as a man.

“I had relationships with gay men but it never really felt right.

“I didn’t feel good about myself unless I looked feminine.”

At 25 Nicole began growing her hair and wearing women’s clothes, but she did not approach her doctor about surgery until three years later.

She says: “My friends and family knew I wanted to become a female so no one was shocked when I made the decision.

“My family were supportive and as I’ve always been open with them, nothing has come as a surprise.

“I’m really lucky as my mum’s been brilliant and loves having another girl around.

“My dad’s been great too — he totally accepts me for who I am. He’s so sweet and always panics when he slips up and calls me ‘son’.”

Nicole began intensive counselling in October 2010 before psychologists decided she was emotionally ready to start hormone treatment the following June.

She says: “My GP was amazing and told me she had been wondering when we would have the sex change conversation.

“I was her first transgender patient but I think she knew instinctively that I would never be happy as a man. I had to attend a lot of counselling sessions to make sure I was ready to start the hormone therapy.

“But I already had long blonde hair and a wardrobe full of girl’s clothes so I knew I couldn’t live as anything other than a woman.

“The hormones were amazing. I grew in confidence and my curves helped me pass as a woman even more convincingly.”

When she started work at a local bar Nicole’s colleagues were all amazed she was born a male and she says they agreed she was the most feminine person there.

Nicole adds: “I passed so well that people were actually shocked when I told them.

“I couldn’t believe how well I fitted into life as a woman.

“Then when my old school bullies came into the pub and were leering at me it was the ultimate confidence-booster.

“It serves them right for bullying me as a child and I hope they feel bad for causing me so much stress.”

Now looking forward to the future, Nicole says she has never been happier.

She explains: “I’ll be on the hormone treatment for the rest of my life, and every woman knows that sometimes hormones can make you a bit loopy, but it’s worth it as I feel more like myself every day.

“People not knowing I was born a male is very comforting.

“Now I can’t go anywhere without men staring at me and trying to chat me up.”

jenny.francis@the-sun.co.uk

Additional reporting: GERALDINE McKELVIE

 
 

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/lifestyle/4867253/pre-op-transgender-woman-takes-revenge-on-childhood-bully.html#ixzz2R8g3IfIg

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J: “It’s like I don’t have the right to feel a certain way about my own body because I’m loaning it out at the moment.”

4/9/13

1) What physical spaces do you feel safe or unsafe in? Emotional spaces? How does this relate to your race, age, sexual orientation, background, class, etc?

I tend to feel unsafe in certain public spaces when I’m alone. I didn’t always feel this way, but it’s fairly recent that since I’ve been pregnant (currently in my 7th month), I tend to feel more vulnerable. This is especially true here in the south (living in SC – if you can believe it). I actually don’t feel that way as much when I’m visiting back in the Philly/Jersey area. I think it has more to do with the culture down here. It’s very conservative and women are more obviously objectified or ignored (one or the other).

Before I was pregnant, I worked as a waitress for over 16 years. I felt incredibly unsafe in the restaurant environment. A lot of it has to do with class, but it was mostly about being a woman that led me to feel this way. In fact, the more that I learned about power dynamics, oppression, and sexism, the worse I felt about my position as a server. I felt kind of like a whore because my income was based on whether people liked me or not (although it was really based on what kind of a tipper they were to begin with). Because restaurant owners only pay 2.13 per hour, it felt to me like I was nothing more than a charity case – even though I worked in some pretty high end places and learned how to provide excellent service. It’s just an internal feeling I always had.

2) How do you perceive your own physical appearance and those of other women? How do you think others perceive you physically? What elements contribute to these perceptions?

I used to perceive myself as attractive, but had some minor things that I would have changed about myself if I could have – although nothing too drastic. I tend to think that most humans feel that way. Before I got pregnant, I had gained 25 pounds fairly quickly and felt like I was inhabiting a different person’s body. Now that I’m pregnant and have gained another 25 pounds on top of that, I feel disgusted with my appearance. I get really annoyed when I express how I feel about myself and someone tries to talk me out of it. That seems a bit insensitive and unsupportive to me. It’s like I don’t have the right to feel a certain way about my own body because I’m loaning it out at the moment. I do, however, keep that in perspective – because I have made the commitment to have this child and therefore my personal feelings about how I look are sort of silly right now…since I know it’s only temporary. I feel a bit worried that I might be stuck this way, but I’m extremely motivated to get back into shape after he’s born.

I don’t really measure myself up to other women because I was raised by a crazy woman who always told me I was ugly and I learned how to ignore a lot of the opinions of other women. I really don’t know how other people, in general, perceive me – except from what they say directly. Pre-pregnancy, not many people would comment (besides sexual/romantic partners). Now that I’m carrying a baby, it feels like everyone (including strangers) feels like they have permission to comment on my body. A lady at the bank insisted that I must be having twins and was very quick to tell me how “huge” I am.

I find certain women incredibly attractive. I think I have a “type” that I’m specifically drawn to when it comes to sexual attraction. I have no idea where that comes from, but all I can say is that petite women with small boobs that have a certain style, certain features, and a certain personality really turn me on. Although I don’t really label my sexual orientation as anything, I’d have to say that on the KInsey scale I’m leaning a bit towards the middle, although I’m mostly hetero-identified.

Aside from sexually attractive women, there are plenty of other women I find physically attractive because I appreciate the diversity of beauty in general. I don’t really follow a lot of the typical standards of beauty because I’m not usually a fan of the barbie doll look. I think that understanding media literacy helps me to say, “fuck that.”

3) How do you feel walking outside as a woman? Does this change depending on where you are, how you are dressed, who you are with, who else is around?

It does depend on where I am, who I’m with, and who else is around. Mostly I feel vulnerable though, unfortunately. I really don’t want to feel that way – especially being a feminist. I want to feel empowered and strong (which I’d like to think I’m still empowered and strong, despite vulnerability at times). It’s just that once my eyes had been opened to sexism, there was no going back. I learned that at a young age instinctively, but then I studied about these things as an adult and it only added more to what I was already feeling inside.
I’m happy that I’m a woman. I enjoy being a woman very much and I love women, but I don’t like feeling like I have to prove my intelligence or worth (outside of what my body may be worth) constantly.

4) What does the intersection of your woman-ness with other elements mean to you? I.E. race, class, age, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, I’m sure I’m missing some.

For me, personally, it’s always been my woman-ness and my class placement in society. I suppose there’s also a mental health component that is very much a part of me. I grew up in an abusive and highly dysfunctional household. So much of who I have become is in response to being female, growing up blue collar, and being raised by a woman who has many serious pathological issues.
I think that I’m lucky to have had a rebellious spirit. My family looks down on women (which is one reason why they are SO happy that I’m having a boy – and that grosses me out to no end that they have this preference). And I ended up a feminist. My family doesn’t understand why I’m still in school, but I am working on a second master’s (and racking up student loans that would make a doctor have a heart attack). And, lastly, my mother’s pathologies continue to haunt me and affect me, but I have differentiated myself enough to understand that I will never be like her in those ways.

TRIGGERING

4/2/13

 

Annotation:

When I found these shirts via a link from a friend, they were already pulled down.  Should that make me feel better? Relatively speaking, better not for sale and general consumption by the public than for sale and general consumption by the public.  I guess.  But someone MADE these.

Someone thought of it, then thought it was funny enough to invest time and energy into doing it, then weighed the pros and cons and was relatively unafraid of backlash of any serious kind, then thought enough other people would find this FUNNY that they would make money off of it.  Someone hates women enough to make this.  You can not sell them but you can’t- “unexist” them.  It’s only a matter of time before someone prints their own.  And then they will be out there in the world, where I walk down the street, possibly next to someone who, had these remained for sale on amazon, would have bought it. In a world where people think it is okay to feel and advertise your desire to hurt and rape women.

In way, I wish they had sold them.  That way I would know you if I was walking down the street next to you, sharing a pole with you on the subway car, behind you in line at the supermarket.  If you can’t announce your LOVE of RAPE and VIOLENCE, how do I know who to be scared of?

It is at these moments that feminists, women, are accused of “over-reacting,” of “having no sense of humor.” I’ve stopped caring about these comments. The world is sometimes too scary to laugh at.

Update: I returned to this after several lengthy discussions concerning the race and class of certain acts of misogyny, specifically the common perception of street harassment as done primarily by men of color in poor and working-class neighborhoods. Although I later heard that this was an “automated” design- which further presents the problem of how a verb list could let this one “slip through, which I find fairly unbelievable- the person responsible for this “fluke” is Michael Fowler, a White company CEO. This requires that we think of harassment in broader terms, no matter how much we like to keep it in a race and class box.

Assuming this “fluke” though: how were no shirts printed that “accidentally” said, “Keep calm and rape HIM”?

So you’re tired of hearing about “rape culture”?

3/19/13

 

Reposted without permission from:

http://rantagainsttherandom.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/so-youre-tired-of-hearing-about-rape-culture/

So you’re tired of hearing about “rape culture”?

19MAR

TRIGGER WARNING:

The following includes descriptions, photos, and video that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised. 

Someone asked me today, “What is ‘rape culture’ anyway? I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Yeah, I hear ya. I’m tired of talking about it. But I’m going to keep talking about it because people like you keep asking that question.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, no one says, “Stop.”

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, they can’t get anyone to come forward.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and adults are informed of it, but no consequences are doled out because the boys “said nothing happened.”

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and we later find out that their coaches were “joking about it” and “took care of it.” 

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and even though there is documentation of the coaching staff sweeping it under the rug, they get to keep their jobs.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and one of the coaches involved in the cover-up threatens a reporter – saying, “You’re going to get yours. And if you don’t get yours, somebody close to you will.” – but the town is more worried about keeping their coaching talent than his integrity.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, take pictures of the process, and it becomes a source of ridicule along social networks, whitewashing the crime with hashtags.

rapeinstagram

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and then joke about it on video – saying, ““She is so raped,” “They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson!”, “They raped her more than the Duke lacrosse team!”, and she was “deader than Trayvon Martin.” – while everyone else laughs. (Warning: this video will make you sick to your stomach.)

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and the town is more concerned with preserving their football program than the fact that their children are attacking others without remorse.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and the mainstream media laments the fact that their “promising futures” have been dashed by their crimes – as though THEY are the victims.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and even though she’s been through enough, the 16 year old victim’s name is shared on national television.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, but because it happens at a party where both sexes were drinking, complete strangers on the internet argue ferociously that she is to blame for being attacked.

Click to embiggen. Warning: it will make you sick.

Click to zoom. Warning: it will make you sick.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and members of the community issue death threats against the victim.

death threats

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and it is documented across social media channels, and the media informs us that the takeaway is to be more careful about what we post to social media.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and when a cover-up is exposed by a group of hackers, we call them “terrorists” and the culpable “victims.” 

Yeah, I’m talking about Steubenville. Tired of hearing about it? Ok, let’s talk about something else.

Rape culture is when the Steubenville is far from the first instance of athletic clubs covering up sexual violence allegations. See: SanduskyMichigan State 2010Arizona State 2008University of Colarado 2006University of Iowa 2008Lincoln High School 2012University of Montana 2012Marquette 2011, plus this research (and there’s more to find if you dig)

Rape culture is when universities across the country do not report rape to the police, but handle the matter via “honor boards” – ultimately shielding perpetrators from criminal consequences.

Rape culture is when universities threaten to expel a student for speaking out about her rape (without ever identifying her attacker) because it’s harassment to talk about her suffering.

Rape culture is when a comedian has a long history of making jokes about rape and sexual assault, is defended from backlash by the comic community, and doesn’t lose his fan base.

Rape culture is when a journalist says this ….

I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.

… and the public responds with this….

rape

Rape culture is when politicians don’t understand how requiring a transvaginal ultrasound of a rape victim seeking an abortion is like raping her all over again.

Rape culture is when political candidates say that God sometimes intends rape, and that some girls just “rape easy,” and that “legitimate rape” does not result in pregnancy… and do not lose the backing of their party or party leaders.

Rape culture is when a speaker at a political convention makes a rape joke about a sexual violence victim advocate, and he brings the house down with laughter.

Rape culture is when we spend all our time telling women to avoid being raped by modifying their behavior, inferring blame back onto the victim.

Rape culture is when stunning displays of privilege and willful ignorance combine to create this:

voice for MEN

and this:

no rape culture

Rape culture is when a woman speaks out about rape culture, and gets subjected to this.

Rape culture is when we see ads like these on a far too frequent basis:

belvedere adrape jumpgrossfriendzonedrinkdominos

Rape culture is when you’re tired of hearing about “rape culture” because it makes you uncomfortable, as your attempt to silence discourse on the subject means we never raise enough awareness to combat it – and that’s part of why it sticks around.

So yeah, I’m sorry you’re tired of hearing about it. But I wouldn’t expect us to shut up anytime soon. Nor should we.

UPDATE: I will no longer be publishing comments which caveat the discussion of rape culture with false rape accusation concerns. There is a reason for this,which you can read here

Nab the Victim

3/15/13

Reposted without permission from:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/nypd_nab_the_victim_lXiQhecmrcMWX01cMEJ5JJ

  • By JAMIE SCHRAM and DAN MANGAN
  • Last Updated: 9:15 AM, March 15, 2013
  • Posted: 1:15 AM, March 15, 2013

EXCLUSIVE

Women who report domestic violence are exposing themselves to arrest under a new NYPD directive that orders cops to run criminal checks on the accused and the accuser, The Post has learned.

The memo by Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski requires detectives to look at open warrants, complaint histories and even the driving records of both parties.

“You have no choice but to lock them up” if the victims turn out to have warrants, including for minor offenses like unpaid tickets, a police source said.

“This is going to deter victims of domestic violence . . . They’re going to be scared to come forward.”

The directive tells detectives that when they are investigating cases of domestic violence, they should run a search that cross-references all NYPD databases.

Beside warrants, a person’s criminal record and history of making criminal complaints should be checked, the directive says.

A source said that even if detectives wanted to take pity on someone who was battered by a spouse, they would feel pressure to make an arrest to avoid getting in trouble with superiors.

“We have every right to arrest that person at that moment,” the source said.

Reacting to the March 5 memo, another source fumed, “There’s a lack of common sense in this department right now.”

Marilyn Chinitz, a matrimonial lawyer who often represents abused women, said the policy harms those police should be protecting.

“You’re arresting the victim?” Chinitz said. “That is crazy.

“That is very, very frightening. It would absolutely dissuade people. They would not report a crime because they would fear getting locked up.

“It would empower the perpetrator, and there’s going to be more domestic violence as a consequence, and you’re endangering children,” Chinitz said, noting that kids often live in households where one parent is being abused.

Joseph Tacopina, a defense attorney and former prosecutor, said the new policy will have a “massive chilling effect” on domestic-violence victims, particularly women reluctant to call cops on their partners.

“The majority of domestic-violence cases go unreported,” Tacopina noted. “This is just going to increase this percentage.”

Pulaski’s memo is the latest in nearly 90 instructional memos the former civil engineer and lawyer has issued to NYPD detectives since he was appointed their boss by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in the fall of 2009.

Those memos range from the most mundane tasks to how to grill a suspect.

10 Things to End Rape Culture

2/4/13

Reposted without permission from:

http://www.thenation.com/article/172643/ten-things-end-rape-culture#

Rape culture exists because we don’t believe it does.  From tacit acceptance of misogyny in everything from casual conversations with our peers to the media we consume, we accept the degradation of women and posit uncontrollable hyper-sexuality of men as the norm. But rape is endemic to our culture because there’s no widely accepted cultural definition of what it actually is.  As Nation contributor and co-editor of the anthology Yes Means Yes Jessica Valenti explains, “Rape is a standard result of a culture mired in misogyny, but for whatever reason—denial, self-preservation, sexism—Americans bend over backwards to make excuses for male violence.” But recent headline-grabbing instances of sexual assault, from Steubenville, Ohio, to Delhi, India, are prodding Americans to become self-aware about the role we play in propagating a culture that not only allows but justifies sexual violence against women. Activists Eesha PanditJaclyn Friedman, filmmaker Nuala Cabral and The Nation’s Valenti believe that we can end rape culture. They’ve suggested the following “Ten Things” to end our collective tolerance for violence against women and create an environment that empowers both men and women to change the status quo.

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1. Name the real problemsViolent masculinity and victim-blaming. These are the cornerstones of rape culture and they go hand in hand. When an instance of sexual assault makes the news and the first questions the media asks are about the victim’s sobriety, or clothes, or sexuality, we should all be prepared to pivot to ask, instead, what messages the perpetrators received over their lifetime about rape and about “being a man.” Here’s a tip: the right question is not, “What was she doing/wearing/saying when she was raped?” The right question is, “What made him think this is acceptable?” Sexual violence is a pervasive problem that cannot be solved by analyzing an individual situation. Learn 50 key facts about domestic violence. Here’s one: the likelihood that a woman will die a violent death increases 270% once a gun is present in the home Remember, a violent act is not a tragic event done by an individual or a group of crazies.  Violence functions in society as” a means of asserting and securing power.”

2. Re-examine and re-imagine masculinity: Once we name violent masculinity as a root cause of violence against women, we have to ask: Is masculinity inherently violent? How can you be a man/masculine without being violent?  Understand that rape is not a normal or natural masculine urge. Join organizations working to redefine masculinity and participate in the national conversations on the topic.

3. Get enthusiastic about enthusiastic consent. Rape culture relies on our collective inclination to blame the victim and find excuses for the rapist. Enthusiastic consent — the idea that we’re all responsible to make sure that our partners are actively into whatever’s going down between us sexually — takes a lot of those excuses away. Rather than looking for a “no,” make sure there’s an active “yes.” If you adopt enthusiastic consent yourself, and then teach it to those around you, it can soon become a community value. Then, if someone is raped, the question won’t be, well, what was she doing there, or did she really say no clearly enough? It will be: what did you do to make sure she was really into it? Check out this Tumblr page on enthusiastic consent.

4. Speak up for what you really really want. Because so much victim-blaming relies on outdated ideas about women and men’s sexuality, taking the time to figure out what you actually want from sex for yourself and learning how to speak up about it can be a revolutionary act, and inspire others to follow suit. Bonus: it will almost always improve your sex life, too! Jaclyn Friedman wrote a whole book on the topic.

5. Get media literate. Media, like everything else we consume, is a product; someone imagined, created and implemented it. Ask the right questions about who creates media that profits off the objectification of women, especially women of color.  Feed your mind and heart with media that portrays women as full human beings with the right to bodily autonomy. Go to FAAN Mail to learn how to “Talk Back” to media creators and browse their Facebook page for alternative artists. You’ll not only be healthier yourself, but you’ll be simultaneously calling into being a media ecosystem that will be healthier for everyone.

6.  Globalize your awareness of rape culture. Yes, different societies have particularities when it comes to gender based violence, but it is counterproductive to essentialize entire nations/cultures/races. Look to global strategies—like creating momentum for the US to ratify the global Convention on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and participate in addressing the phenomenon of rape as a tool of war. Also, let’s reauthorize Violence Against Women Act before we cast aspersions on the misogyny of other cultures, shall we?

7. Know your history: For those of us who live here in the US, we must acknowledge and learn from the US’s long history of state sanctioned violence. Consider the genocide of Native and First Nations people, the ever-present legacy of slavery, the lackadaisical relationship we have with due process (i.e. Japanese internment, Guantanamo) and the gendered nature of all this. There are no quick links for this one: you’ll have to read some big books.

8. Take an intersectional approach. The numbers tell us most but not all of what we need to know. What the numbers can elide is the lived reality of women, LGBTQ people and others of us whose stories don’t make it to the headlines. Don’t forget that sex and gender are different and there are more genders than two. People who are gender-non-conforming, gender queer, trans and/or those who complicate the gender binary experience violence at disproportionate rates. Think about how a person’s income, race, sexuality, and citizenship and immigration status would impact their ability to use the criminal justice system as recourse, and come up with strategies that addressthose challenges. Move the most vulnerable from the margin to the center to develop effective solutions.

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9. Practice real politics. You may be crystal clear about your own rejection of rape culture, but when someone you know calls a woman a slut, approach him/her from a place of empathy. Try telling them that you know they probably meant no harm, but that you’re concerned that they may be doing some anyhow. And then explain why. And be patient: very few of us change our views in an instant. It may take time and repetition for it to start to sink in.

10. Lobby your community. Rape culture thrives in passive acceptance of female degradation, victim-blaming and hyper-masculinity in our communities, both physical and digital. Report abuse on Facebook. Lobby college administrators for more safe spaces to discuss sexual assault on campus. One in five women are assaulted during their college years, yet many colleges don’t have a competent system for reporting incidences and punishing perpetrators.  Go here to learn what to do about rape on your campus.

Two More Ways to Fight Rape Culture

Don’t laugh at rape. Most people aren’t rapists. But most rapists believe that everyone does it. What’s more, you can’t tell if you’re in the presence of a rapist. They don’t look any different from the rest of us, and may be perfectly good company. So while it might seem harmless to you to laugh at a joke that makes light of rape, your laughter could be telling an unknown rapist in your midst that you think rape is hilarious. And what’s worse: letting go of a laugh once in a while, or accidentally enabling a rapist? Your call.

Tell your story. Every political issue has a personal narrative that helps form connections to the issue and bolster support for present and future victims. Read Akiba Solomon’s account of the how she bridged the personal and the political in the struggle over reproductive justice. If your personal account is not ready for an audience, start by telling your story to yourself.

It is not enough to bring individual perpetrators of rape and sexual violence to justice.  Since the problem lies in a culture that is entertained by degrading acts and images of women, the solution is to look at the individual acts as a symptom of rape culture and solve it holistically.  We all have a part to play in allowing rape culture to exist—so, we can all do something to eradicate it.

Conceived by Walter Moseley and co-edited by Rae Gomes.