Human Rights

#RapeThreatsNotOK and Other Movements at Change.org to Shut Down Rape Culture

Joshunda Sanders
Jul 25, 2017

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kayleen Moss, a 52nd Medical Operations Squadron pediatrics technician, and her husband, Brandon, pose for an anti-sexual assault campaign image at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aug. 13, 2014. The Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program provides services to assist victims and survivors of sexual violence. SAPR has an ongoing campaign to encourage people to step up and step in to prevent sexual assault.


*Trigger Warning for Survivors of Sexual Assault

In North Carolina, Amy Guy only agreed to have sex with her intoxicated estranged husband because he was drunk and she was afraid of what he might do if she said no. But then, Jonathan turned violent. Crying, she pleaded with him to stop.

By all logical definitions, it was rape. Because of an outdated law in the state, Jonathan was merely charged with assault on a female and served 10 months in jail instead of second-degree rape, punishable by 15 years in prison.

State Senator Jeff Jackson and petition starter Matt Citron are leading efforts in the state to change an old law so that this never happens to anyone else. (Jeff Jackson’s bill would become effective December 1st.) “Rape culture is more out of control than people may notice,” Matt Citron said. “I believe it’s your duty as a person in this world to stand up for the people around you. Especially if the people don’t have a voice as loud as yours.”

There are several organizers using the Change.org platform to raise their voices to change outdated policies and laws that perpetuate rape culture.

In Pennsylvania, Erin Zezzo’s 13-year-old daughter was subjected to 15,000 sexually explicit online posts over the course of four years before the 55-year-old man posting them was charged with a more serious cyberstalking charge. She started a petition to ensure that the perpetrator, Shane Holderer, was charged more seriously and has become a Change.org member to ensure she can carry on a long-term fight to change states and federal laws.

In California, Flannery Houston is working to ensure that California passes a sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights. That includes preventing law enforcement from destroying rape kit evidence from unsolved sexual assault case before at least 20 years.

Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor, and her son Darius have been campaigning to help put an end to the culture of sexual assault across college sports. Over the last year, they’ve pushed for the NCAA to change its policies around athletes who perpetuate sexual violence by making sure the punishment is as severe as the crime — although that is not historically the outcome. Brenda is also part of a campaign, led in India by famous singer Chinmayi Sripada, to combat the rape threats spewed at women worldwide on social media. Their global campaign, along with their 230,000 supporters, is urging Twitter to conduct a large-scale shut down of accounts that threaten women with rape to silence them into submission.

It is all too common for women in our culture to find out that old laws or loopholes in the legal system put them at risk for rape, cyberstalking and a litany of rape threats online. But that doesn’t mean that we are powerless to change things. We may not be able to end rape culture in a matter of weeks, months or years. But we can still empower women and their allies to make the changes they want to see — for the women who have survived sexual assault or even the threat of rape or sexual exploitation — so that girls growing up in this culture know that preying on women is not only unacceptable, but criminal — and that it should have consequences that match the severity of the crime.