RAPE CULTURE

Recently an associate of mine disclosed to me she was almost raped. In a situation where things were getting hot and heavy physically, she asked her date to stop and pull the breaks. However, he kept going.  After repeating “stop” several times and having him dismiss her request, she managed to push him off her. Distraught and upset, she confronted him about his actions, only to have him laugh the entire thing off.

As she told me this story I began to cry.  I was devastated by the thought of not only another woman, but someone close to me, being violated in such a way.  However, she was quite surprised by my reaction, telling me that other people she had mentioned this incident to had made comments like “What did you expect getting yourself in that situation?” and “It’s like taking a horse to a lake to drink water, but then not letting it”.

Those responses to her experience are a part of the everyday cultural practices that excuse and tolerate sexual violence. By subtly saying that “girls allow themselves to be raped”, society not only further victimises women and their experience with rape and sexual assault, it also legitimises the entitlement and ownership men have to women and their bodies.  And this is just one of the many forms of how gender oppression works.

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WHAT IS IN A NAME?

Society constantly reaffirms to women that in order to be respectable they must fulfill their maternal nature by getting married and having children. This is while men are told to be power and success driven. It is for this exact reason we see such a gender imbalance in our education, government, health, legal and polictical systems, majority of which are all run by men. It is imbedded in men that they should be running the show, while women take a back seat at home, baking muffins in the kitchen and raising children who will continue to fall into the trap of a patriarchal social structure.

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SUCCESS: A PERSONAL PRESPECTIVE

Name: Nabila Farhat

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Occupation: Full-time consultant at ANZ bank, part-time women’s advocate at Shakti Australia & casual writing enthusiast.

Idea of success: Growing up I had my parents constantly drill into me the importance of education.  Their motto was: ‘Knowledge is power’.  I suppose I adopted that motto, however, not in the way they had hoped as I pursed psychology, a line work that my parents believe undermines my intelligence.  People often dismiss what I am studying as ‘overrated’, even worse, mock me by making jokes that insinuate that my psychological state resembles that of my ‘crazy’ patients. What they fail to recognise is the amount of work that psychology students have to put into actually succeeding in a very competitive industry.

At any university undergraduate psychology usually starts off with 800 students, 4th year psychology dwindles that down to 300 students and then those 300 students are further dwindled down to 18 students who go on to become clinical psychologists. I am currently one of those 300 students and I hope at the end of this year I will become one of those 18 students that goes on to fulfil her dreams of becoming a clinical psychologist at a doctorate level.

Success for me is following what I am passionate about.  It is putting aside everyone else’s dreams and hopes for me and pursuing my own.  It is about making my own choices and holding myself accountable for my personal failings and triumphs.  It is being able to flourish in all aspects of my life and not have my identity be fuelled by my occupation.  But most importantly, it is about failing and in amongst that finding the courage to move forward with a sense of happiness and hope. 

In five year time I want to be established in my career as a Child Protection Practitioner, an advocate for women and focusing on my personal life, that is,hopefully finding someone who I share my successes with and travel the world with.


Name: Luisa Low

Occupation: Copywriter.

Idea of success: I studied a degree in Ancient History & Art History at the university of Sydney. During my degree I became an artist understudy for 3 years (it’s my fourth year now). Essentially mine was a degree in writing and thinking; I have financial aspirations which journalism just wouldn’t provide, so I applied for a Junior Copywriting role. I was promoted to a mid weight copywriter within 6 months.

My idea of success is not simply to be ‘happy’, all that does for me is conjure images of happy families eating chia porridge in Bondi, taking snaps to the hashtags #yoga #cleaneating. I’d like to be known, but I don’t want to be a celebrity. I want to make money, build an estate ala Carlo Scarpa, get married some time in the next 18 months and have a baby. A koi pond would be nice too. That would be success for me.

In 5 years I would like to be married and have a baby. I’d like to be working as a creative or senior copywriter. I’d like to own my own home with a happy husband and have lived with him overseas for a year.


Name: Sadia Karim

Occupation: Bachelor of Software Engineering student.

Idea of success: I’m a student at Monash University, studying Bachelor of Software Engineering. My road to this degree wasn’t an easy one. In high school, my parents constantly pushed me to do medicine, so I convinced myself over and over that that’s what I wanted too, but when the time came, I couldn’t do it. I could never see myself being a doctor. It wasn’t something I wanted to dedicate my life towards. So that left me in the ugly position of having no idea about what I wanted to study at university, and preferences had to be in soon. So I once again turned to my parents and they recommended civil engineering. I had no idea what civil engineering was, but I put it down as my first preference anyway. And I got it.

I started my degree and I hated it. I didn’t understand why people said uni was one of the best parts of your life. I hated every second of every lecture and tute I attended. I often sat there thinking why I was doing it and came to the same conclusion every time: because my parents told me to do it. Nowhere along this journey had I sat down and asked myself what it was that “I” wanted. It was always about what my parents wanted. By then I was three years into a four year degree, deep in depression with no-one to turn to (so I thought). When I finally had enough, I told my parents that I couldn’t do it anymore. They were surprised, but what surprised me the most was how supportive they were. Even though they were disappointed that I was quitting the degree so close to graduation, I honestly don’t think I would’ve made it through another week doing civil.

So I guess that brings me to my definition of success and how I measure it. For me, success is about fighting your battles and growing stronger from them. I would not have been successful if I managed to finish my civil degree. I would take that as running away from the war. The hardest battles are the ones you wage against yourself. How do you win when you’re the ally and the enemy? It’s the worst when everyone else around you seems to have everything figured out. You feel alone and different. The more you learn that you are in control of your life and choices, and the more you exercise these rights and achieve what YOU want, and do what makes YOU happy, then that makes you successful.

In 5 years’ time, hopefully I’ll be done with my Masters in Engineering, working somewhere in the States for a techology company like Google (HAH! That’s the dream!). But hey, that’s my dream. That’s what I want to do. That’s what makes me happy. And I can safely say I’ve won the war against the part of myself that was too scared to do what she wanted.


Name: Dima El-Alam

 

Occupation: Color Creative (fancy name for makeup artist) and Assistant business Manager at Illamasqua Sydney.

Idea of success: I got to my current position by choosing a course that I was passionate about, working my hardest to ace it, and then constantly doing what was required of me in my job to excel.

I measure success by the achievement of personal goals I’ve set for myself. A goal is usually something you need to work towards, put extra energy into, even learn extra skills for so the end result of an achievement is true success to me.

In 5 years time, I see myself tying up the last few loose ends in my life before starting a family and becoming a stay at home mum.