During the past week, the horrendous TikTok trend encouraged men to go out on April 24th and rape and sexually harass as many women as they could, claiming that the day is National Rape Day. Women were on high alert, anxious to leave their homes and venture out knowing that even more danger lurked than there already was previous to the 24th.
Throughout several social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, women were sharing tips with each other on how to stay safe. This included where they could buy pepper spray, how to do the most damage to an attacker with a pair of keys, always watching your drinks, and apps to use if you had to walk home alone.
This incredulous challenge was initiated during Sexual Assault Awareness month, a month with the purpose of educating the public about sexual assault and how to prevent it. This is a month where survivor’s strength and courage are celebrated.
This so-called “challenge” that some say is a joke is not and will not ever be a laughing matter. Thousands upon thousands of people across the country are victims of sexual assault and have to live with that trauma every day. This challenge is a slap in the face to them.
This TikTok challenge goes to show that rape culture is still strongly present in our society and isn’t going away anytime soon. With the Internet, it seems to be only getting worse as people can hide behind screens and harass people from the ease of their homes, never having to worry about their identities being exposed.
A recent study from the United Kingdom has blown up as it discovered that 97% of women ages 18-24 have experienced some form of sexual harassment. While this shocked the world, it comes to no surprise to young women everywhere who have been dealing with cat-calling, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming for as long as they can remember.
This challenge further perpetuates that rape culture is unfortunately here to stay and isn’t going anywhere. This “joke” puts all the hard work and progress that has been made to end this centuries-long fight in the dust. It not only minimizes the work people have put in to stop this behavior, but it also hurts those who have dealt with sexual assault in the past.
The scary thing is that this is not the first or the last time that we will see a challenge or trend of this kind. It rattles me to my core that my own safety and health can be put in jeopardy with the publishing of a video or tweet. When you have a statistic telling you that 97% of women have experienced sexual harassment, every day is April 24th. No matter the day, we women will constantly be looking over our shoulders, locking our doors, and doing everything in our power to stay safe.