Content Warning: this blog post covers topics of sexual violence.
The phrase “national rape day” has over 72,000 monthly searches on Google and over 30 million views on TikTok for related hashtags. But where did this “day” come from? Who started it and why?
National Rape Day started from a TikTok that was made in April of 2021, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, that declared April 24th as “National Rape Day”. The original video was allegedly made by a group of men, encouraging others to commit acts of sexual assault on this day, saying it was legal to do so.
Some sources say talks of this day actually started on 4chan and then became a TikTok trend, but there seems to be no widely agreed-upon consensus on who exactly is responsible for starting this disgusting concept.
Thousands of videos were made in response to the original TikTok. These response videos consisted of safety warnings, telling women to not leave the house on April 24th or to only travel in groups. Other videos contained threats against anyone who committed acts of sexual assault on this day.
Tiktok responded to the threat of a National Rape Day being started on their platform with the following in an email to USA Today, "Keeping our community safe is our priority, and we do not tolerate content that promotes or glorifies non-consensual sexual acts including rape and sexual assault,” a TikTok spokesperson wrote in an email. “While we have not found evidence on our platform of any videos related to this subject, our safety team is remaining vigilant and we will remove content that violates our policies."
Many media sources referred to the entire situation as a hoax, with multiple sites claiming that they were unable to find the original video that started National Rape Day despite digging through the many videos on Tiktok’s platform. Multiple tiktok users said that they had not seen the original video, but rather saw a response video that prompted them to make a response of their own.
Tiktok users agreed that it didn’t matter whether or not it was a social media prank, they stood by their videos that denounced the day and anyone who participated or perpetuated the idea that sexual violence is ever okay.
Tiktok, like most social media platforms, has well-defined community guidelines that forbid such content from being posted.
The following can be found on their community guidelines page:
Criminal activities cover a wide spectrum of acts punishable by law, including theft, assault, human exploitation, counterfeiting, and other harmful behavior. To prevent such behavior from being normalized, imitated, or facilitated, we remove content that promotes or enables criminal activities.
Do not post, upload, stream, or share:
And yet, every day, people post videos that promote violence against women. Just last month there was a viral Tiktok trend that involved men posting videos that described their fantasies of taking a woman on a date and murdering her in some kind of gruesome fashion.
So, while there may be no original National Rape Day video, and there is no evidence to support that more acts of sexual violence were committed on this day, versus any other day, there is still plenty of reason to discuss and condemn these social media trends that make women and survivors fear for their safety, even more than they already do.
When men threaten women with violence and then later play it off as a joke, they are making light of the very real danger that women and vulnerable people face every single day. These TikTok videos are classic examples of the intimidation and minimization tactics that abusers use to secure and maintain power and control over their victims, and these trends, regardless of whether or not their threats are substantiated, are extremely triggering to victims and survivors of sexual and physical violence.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. You would be hard-pressed to find a woman in this world who has not been/does not know someone who has been sexually assaulted. We are very much aware of the prevalence of SA and many of us live in fear because of it.
However, trends like National Rape Day and videos joking about dating violence, make it clear that men still do not understand the critical role they play in prevention. Preventing sexual assault, at its very core, relies on everyone understanding the severity of the problem, educating those who do not, and calling out anyone who makes light of any type of gender-based violence.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual violence, help is available. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline: RAINN or visit chayn.co for global resources for victims and survivors
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