“Now, should we treat women as independent agents, responsible for themselves? Of course. But being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.”
― Jessica Valenti
She put on another coating of lipstick and looked at herself in the mirror. Being at this party was just what she needed. Yeah, she felt good, ready to live it up a bit. She’d had a tough week. Exams, exams, exams! And then Byron had broken up with her. She didn’t want to think of Byron and her best friend, Chrissie. Best friend, huh!
She was dazzled by the music and lights. She looked around and then she saw an arm waving. Oh, great, the gang were all here! Laughter, shouting to make herself heard and then a hand grabbed her and dragged her onto the dance floor. It felt so good to lose herself in the music, the beat, the pulse, the sweat of bodies. Shutting her eyes, she just let it all take over.
Coming off the dance floor, her arm was taken by an incredibly cute guy. He had dancing blue eyes that seemed to say: Laugh with me!
“You move beautifully. I couldn’t take my eyes off you!” He steered her towards the bar. “Come, let’s get a drink.”
“My names Angela,” she shouted as she raised the glass of wine to her lips.
“Tim,”he answered, “come let’s go outside where we can hear each other. I’ll take your wine and you get your coat. It’s cold out.”
She yelled at her party, “We’re going outside,” and waved.
The cold air was beautifully refreshing. She took the wine gratefully.
“Oh, I need a drink, thank you.” It wasn’t the best tasting wine but she was thirsty and with Tim looking at her in that particular way, who cared what the wine tasted like.
That was all Angela remembered. She woke the next morning in a strange bedroom, naked and alone. She put on her clothes which were lying in a heap and made her way home. Three days later, a video of her being raped by Tim and two other men was placed on the internet for the whole world to see.
Angela committed suicide three days later.
Date rape, it’s called. Date rape!
A friend of mine from England told me about a documentary she watched that featured a story about a 16 year old like Angela. I think the term date rape should be struck from the dictionary. More often than not, it is a case of a young woman being bought a drink by a total stranger, a person who was friendly and had a nice smile. This stranger then goes on to drug and rape his victim.
After my accident, I remember being desperate for a man in my life. I had men friends but they were all married. I didn’t know any single men. I signed up on the Internet dating agency and I started meeting single men. I used to go out on ‘dates’ with men that I had never met before. Yes, of course I had heard about men who picked up and raped women. The men that took me out on ‘dates’ were a different case completely. They had pleasant faces, made decent conversation and would never dream of doing anything unpleasant.
Glory be, how little I knew, how naive and how unbelievably ‘lucky’ I was. I would meet the man at a restaurant over the road from where I lived. Nice and safe! He would go to the bar and come back with drinks which I accepted with a smile. How easily he could have popped a pill in my drink. I wouldn’t have complained about the strange taste. I was nervous and battling to hear him and not make him aware of my deafness. He could quite easily have escorted a befuddled Gaynor to his car and a very different person would be writing this piece today.
The issue of date rape was recently brought to my attention by a group of graduate actors from the drama school, ACT in Cape Town. After the success of their production Girls Just Want To Have Fun, their writer and director, Nicola Hanekom has written a screenplay – Cut Out Girls. This is a spin off of their production and focuses on date rape. In it the raped young victims, the ‘Cut-out Girls’, refuse to become ‘prey’ and instead of being broken and humiliated, they choose to heal and rise. This is the story of how, through vigilance and courage, they choose to walk tall.
Ashleigh van der Hoven, one of the cast members of Girls Just Want To Have Fun says: “Nicola Hanekom has addressed a potentially very difficult subject matter by crafting a perfectly sensitive yet heroic story for the characters, precisely hitting all the right notes and themes when it comes to rape. From the pain, to the remorse, to the regret, to the warrior, to the victims, to revenge and finally acceptance with a refusal to not be defined by the trauma of another’s actions – this is what we stand for. That is why we are making this film and stories like these are the reason why we all chose to be artists.”
They have raised: R168 115 ($12 453) towards their first goal of R450 000. ($34 600) I would love for this screenplay to be converted to film. We need films such as this to be made.
In South Africa, the rape epidemic has laid siege to our country. An astounding and stupefying 1.4 million rapes take place a year. Rape has no boundaries. It can happen to rich, poor, male and female. It can happen to you or me. The most frightening thing of all is that it can be committed by anyone and to anyone. I was very interested in what my nieces, Kirsten and Sarah studying at university had to say.
“A friend of mine had her drink spiked,” said Kirsten, “but luckily when she started feeling bad, she called her parents immediately to come and fetch her from the party. To protect ourselves, we keep our drinks on us at all times – NEVER leave them unattended – even when going to the bathroom!
And we always go out with a group of friends who look out for each other. When leaving a party, we make sure that the group is together and that no one has been left behind.”
“Yes, Sarah added, “and be cautious of using glasses in bars because a substance can be placed at the bottom without you realising it and…the drink is spiked! So always keep an eye on your friends and their behaviour, as they keep an eye on you.” She backed up what Kirsten said. “Always keep a hand over the glass or a finger in the bottle opening.”
She finished: “I find it very sad that we have to protect ourselves against rape. It implies that if you are negligent then the rape is your fault.” In an almost plaintive way, she concluded: “In an ideal world, instead of telling girls not to get raped, people should just not rape.”
Isn’t it horrifying that we have to live like this nowadays. When I was at school and university, this drugging of drinks didn’t happen. Now we live in a totally different era. We live in an age where you have to exercise caution at all times. And so it is vital that the younger generation is warned. It is important that they know of the ever present danger lurking round about them. As the cop in Hill Street Blues says: “Hey, let’s be careful out there!”
And beware of good looking strangers with an easy laugh buying drinks at parties!
If you are interested in getting involved with Cut out Girls you can learn more on their crowdfunding page by clicking here!
This is a link to their Facebook page – www.facebook.com/cutoutgirlsfilm