Survivor support is crucial, and undoubtedly the vicious bullying Parsons was subject to after her rape drove her to such drastic measures. But unless we are resigned to rape as an inevitability, we have to intervene before violence ever occurs.
Last night, when I mentioned to my roommate that I was working on this article, she told me she wanted action. She didn’t want just another essay pointing out how terrible rape is; she wanted something to do about it. She’s right. Instead of wallowing in injustice, let’s finally wake up from the delusion that we have any more time to waste. Rape culture kills. Rehtaeh Parsons is dead and we are in a state of emergency.
Organize your neighborhood or school against rape culture: run consent education workshops and recruit participants to pledge their stance against violence. March, demonstrate, to publicly prove to all that those who inflict violence on others will not be supported or included by your community. Every time a publication runs a piece promoting rape culture, write a letter in response. Reject slut-shaming and victim-blaming of all forms. Loudly. Model respect for others’ bodily autonomy and stand up for your own in everyday situations to promote a culture of consent. Intervene if you see a dangerous situation developing, and teach others to do the same. Combat the transmission of rape culture from one generation to the next: teach kids to be better than we are. Don’t invite rapists to your parties (I can’t believe I even have to say that, but I do). Make sure survivors in your area have somewhere to turn for justice and support, and to stop their rapists from re-offending. If this resource doesn’t exist, create it. Refuse to tolerate speech that promotes rape; speak up even–no, especially–when to do so would be rude. Listen to a survivor when no one else will.