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At Vidcon 2015, we sat down with Peter Musser, Rhiannon McGavin, and Mary Kate Wiles to deconstruct rape culture.

THIS WEEK'S CALL TO ACTION: How can we protect ourselves from rape without spreading fear?

Engage by Uplift tackles the difficult issues surrounding sexual abuse that the YouTube and online communities face. We're starting real talk for real change.

Each week, our host Kat Lazo discusses abuse and how it manifests in virtual spaces. Watch and collaborate with us through weekly calls to action, and join in with some of your favorite YouTubers as they consider the issues in round table discussions.

Panelists:
Peter Musser: https://twitter.com/the_musser
Rhiannon McGavin: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGeekyBlonde
Mary Kate Wiles: https://www.youtube.com/user/emkaysmiles

Hosted by Kat Lazo: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheeKatsMeoww

Directed by Kelly Kend: http://kellykend.com/



Real talk for Real Change. #EngageUplift
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Kat Lazo: Hi everyone, I'm Kat Lazo, also known as TheeKatsMeoww, and welcome to another episode of Engage by Uplift.

I'm here with Peter Musser,

Peter: Hey everybody.

Kat: Rhiannon McGavin,

Rhiannon: Hi!

Kat: and Mary Kate Wiles.

Mary Kate: Hello.

Kat: So, today we're going to be deconstructing rape culture.

Mary Kate: Let's do it.

Kat: Yes. So I think that one way that rape culture spreads is through fear, right? Through "watch your drink", "don't walk alone", "don't wear this, don't wear that", How effective are these messages in preventing rape?

Rhiannon: Well, the main message that I always get from those is it's not so much about protecting me, it's making sure that the hypothetical rapist gets the other girl.

Kat: It kind of tells me that it's something we can't combat.

Mary Kate: What do you do? Like of course, any time I'm alone at night, I'm scared. You know what I mean? I can't just say, "Well, I shouldn't be scared because we should live in a society where people don't rape," which, yes, we should. But we don't.

Peter: A lot of that really perpetuates this myth of the person who's going to be your sexual assaulter is going to be somebody who's on the street, that you've never met before. When, statistically speaking, the majority of the time, it is somebody the victim -- the survivor -- knows.

Kat: So where are we getting these skewed messages that, you know, it's the scary person in an alleyway?

Peter: Movies. ALL: Movies.

Rhiannon: Media.

Kat: The news especially! Right, it's always like, "Oh, this person on the street did that!" and like, "They came out of nowhere, and it was late at night!" And I think to myself, I'm like, wow, but this isn't the majority. Right?

Mary Kate: I don't know, it took a long time for me to sort of realize what consent truly meant. Like, we all know, oh rape is this bad thing. But I don't think people realize that you can be raped by someone that you are maybe in a relationship with, or whatever, because we're just not educating people in this way.

Kat: How can combating gender roles also combat rape culture?

Peter: I am totally on board with the idea that how we do gender roles in our culture, and in a lot of cultures, is super destructive. And in, like, eighty percent of the time -- pardon my language -- total bullshit.


Rhiannon: Like, rape culture affects everyone living in the rape culture. No one escapes unscathed.

Peter: And I think rape culture -- we call it that and it's not just that, because it's part of the bigger picture of misogyny, and the need for having a strong feminist movement in our society is what-- like rape is the end product of this rape culture; it's the terrible negative. But it ties in with things like boys can't being -- boys can't be who they are, boys can't express themselves, they have to wear certain colors, they have to put up a front.

Rhiannon: You know, the hypermasculinity, which is so toxic and terrible, and it's like, you can't cry, you can't show your weakness, you can't be vulnerable. And for male victims of sexual assault, that destroys them.

Peter: A lot of times they won't seek help because it is such a -- perceived as -- shameful thing. It's seen as weakness. And that means that they don't get the help they need. They aren't willing to talk to anybody about it. They aren't going to do anything about it. They're just going to let it sit. And that can destroy somebody from the inside.

Kat: A recent study came out that showed that sex education that asked women to talk about their boundaries before having sex actually boosted their confidence, and led to lower incidences of sexual assault. Why do you think that would be more effective than instilling fear?

Mary Kate: I just think it's so -- It's just so important to instill in women that we don't have to be polite. The fact that we will go to any lengths to not upset someone, no matter what they are doing to us is just ludicrous. And it's just sad! It makes me so angry. And again, I say this, and like, I still do it! Some guy will say something to me and I'm like, [nervous laughter]. You know what I mean? Like, I try. I feel like I have to be like, "oh, your joke was funny." It wasn't funny. It made me feel uncomfortable. It's just bananas!

Peter: And a lot of it also has to do with -- since sex is such a weird taboo thing to talk about -- a lot of times we don't have the vocabulary to process what we're experiencing. We don't have the comfortability to process what we're experiencing. And so sometimes maybe we find ourselves at that awkward grey area -- especially as teenagers, like, you're 15, 16, 17 -- and you're just discovering this thing called sex. And everyone says it's the greatest but you don't really know a whole lot about it. So if we can find a way to talk about sex in a place that isn't about sex, I think that does wonders, because it removes the stigma, it makes it less taboo, it lets us be more willing to talk to each other about what we like and what we don't like. And I think that's hugely important.

Rhiannon: Otherwise they'll like get educated through porn. Which is what we don't want.

Kat: Let's not do that. So how can we build a culture of looking out for one another, rather than a culture of fear?

Peter: As far as ways we can help each other in the community, one is: don't be afraid to listen. It may be uncomfortable, but listen. I think that one of the most important things we can do is see where people are coming from, and don't necessarily succumb to the need to help, but just be there. Be a set of ears. Let them express themselves as necessary.

Kat: You were all so vulnerable today. Thank you for lending your voice to this very difficult topic. I think that we kind of deconstructed rape culture... like, a smidge. Yeah. Thank you for watching.

This was another episode of Engage by Uplift. 'Til next time. Thank you so much for watching don't forget to answer our call to action using the hashtag #EngageUplift on social media, or in the comments down below.

And while you're at it, why not subscribe? Thanks again. I'm Kat Lazo of TheeKatsMeoww. 'Til next time!