TW- Sexual Assault and Rape
What is ‘Everyone is Invited’?
‘Everyone is Invited’ is a movement calling for the end of rape culture in our society, with a dedicated website and Instagram account. The website allows for anonymous testimonials to be written and recently has named a whopping 2962 schools where abuse and rape has occurred. This number is only growing as more testimonials are being added. One of the most shocking factors is the number of primary schools listed, currently 406, which shows just how prevalent this kind of abuse is and how early it starts. ‘Everyone is Invited’ was founded by Soma Sara, a UCL graduate who began sharing her experiences on Instagram. After a positive response, ‘Everyone is Invited’ was formed in June 2020. Currently, there are more than 50,000 testimonies on the website, including my own.
What is Rape Culture and Why We Need to End it?
Rape culture involves normalised behaviours in our society that allows sexual violence to be justified, and is deeply rooted in the way we talk, think and in our actions. Often jokes that seem harmless or catcalling may not seem all that terrible, however they add to this uncomfortable culture that makes people feel unsafe and can be gateways to sexual violence. We may all be familiar with Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, which talked about the blurred lines of consent. This is a classic example of how pop culture continues to include misogynistic lyrics and enables rape culture. Although there have been movements to ‘cancel’ celebrities and influencers who create this culture, such as James Charles for inappropriately messaging teenage boys, I would question whether this is enough. This can be highlighted by the countless sexual assault and rapes that occur, with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealing that 1.6 million adults have been raped from the age of 16 in the UK. It is also clear from ‘Everyone is Invited’ that not everyone reports sexual assault and hardly any perpetrators are convicted, with RAINN noting that 975 out of 1000 sexual assaulters will walk free. It is no wonder that many victims choose to not come forwards, and this shows just how important websites like ‘Everyone is Invited’ is for anonymous testimonials. Rape culture must end for reporting sexual crimes to be easier and for convictions to be given.
Abuse Outside of Schools
‘Everyone is Invited’ not only talks about abuse that happens in schools but also at university, listing 119 institutions. This may be highlighted by many universities’ heavy drinking culture within sports teams. A study carried out in 2016 notes that more than half of male sports players at university admit to sexually coercing women with a definition that amounts to rape. Due to my own experiences within the sports societies at my university, I am not surprised. When talking about a sports member at university, one anonymous user on ‘Everyone is invited’ writes “I ended up pretending to be okay with it. He was on a team with lots of people I knew so I was really worried about the rumours. He ended up telling people and I got braded a slut”. This backs up RAINN’s statement that female students are less likely to report sexual assault.
This can be seen in the infamous Brock Turner case of 2015, where he only spent 3 months of his 6-month conviction in prison. The 23-year-old victim said in her victim statement “I was pummelled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life; inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name”. This shows how incredibly difficult it is to come forwards, and once again reiterates how important a platform like ‘Everyone is Invited’ is.
What Can You Do to Help?
UN Women note that there are lots of ways we can help to end rape culture in our society, some of which include: speaking up against root causes, changing the way we see masculinity, having a zero-tolerance policy and listening to survivors. It is clear from the number of schools listed by ‘Everyone is Invited’ that rape culture starts at a young age, so the sooner these behaviours are called out the better. The website also has a suggestion box for any ideas that could help and a survey that can help understand which areas of rape culture need to be addressed. There are many charities that can be donated to, such as Rapecrisis and Refuge, as well as general mental health services to help survivors such as Mind.
Reading the testimonials on the ‘Everyone is Invited’ website may be overwhelming, but it is incredibly important to understand how prevalent this issue is. The first step to aiding this crisis is listening and talking about it. Through doing this, I have realised that I do not have a single female friend or family member who has not in some way been sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. Claire Barnett, the executive director of UN Women UK explains that this is a human rights crisis and that it is not enough to say it is a “problem that is too difficult to solve”, and that we must act now.
I will have graduated from Keele University, where I have studied Law, in summer 2021. I am on the path to becoming a solicitor, starting my LPC in September alongside an Msc in Law, Business and Management. I am keen to enter the corporate field and currently volunteer with Citizens Advice