You know what I love?
Horse racing. It's quite literally my favorite thing in the entire world.
From the very first time my mom took me to the track when I was in elementary school, I knew I loved it. What I didn't know then was that twenty years later I'd be making a living watching it, writing about it, following it, talking about it, and basically living my dream surrounded by all things horse racing all the time.
But you know what I don't love?
That horse racing, my favorite thing ever, gave me a nasty reminder that there really isn't any place anywhere that isn't affected by rape culture.
Why, just last night at Charles Town Race Track and Slots in West Virginia, a runner named No Means Yes was sent off as the heavy 2-5 favorite in the 4th race, and won.
As the community's certified eyebrow actor, this is giving me a raging case of the sighbrows, Shakers.
While I'm thrilled for all the bettors who analyzed the race and are able to bask in the glory of their $0.80 profit for getting it right, I can't help but wonder how many people who threw their dollars at that horse even thought for one moment about the fact that the horse is named No Means Yes. I, for one, could only think about that as I listened to the track announcer call her name over and over during the running of the race.
Oh yea, did I mention that the horse is a mare? Surprise, surprise, a female horse called No Means Yes.
The fact that someone bought this horse, and when tasked with coming up with a name for her, landed on No Means Yes, can only further speak to just how pervasive rape culture is.
I'm further disappointed because I'm privy to the knowledge that people by and large take naming their horses very, very, seriously. It's almost a discipline all its own, coming up with the perfect name for a horse. Sometimes that name is some combination of the horse's parents, sometimes it's a touching tribute to someone else, other times it's an inside joke. That's why it's even more upsetting, because when given the opportunity to name this runner and give her a moniker that she'd race with for all of her days, the idea that consent is a constant that is also given through use of the word "no" was the best this owner could do.
When does no mean yes? Never.
The idea that "no means yes" is not just some cute, throwaway saying that you give to a horse as a name. It's a disgusting concept that has been used time and again to reinforce the idea that sexual assault survivors really wanted it and were really giving consent when they repeatedly said "no."
And in a somewhat sexist, hardly progressive environment like horse racing, naturally I'd be labeled a hysteric for commenting on this. I'd be accused of making it a bigger deal than it is – that is, if anyone would even be willing to acknowledge that it was a problem in the first place, an idea I'd label a longshot if I've ever seen one.
[Commenting Guidelines from Liss: This is a thread about the insidious ubiquity of the rape culture; please note that comments discussing the merits/ethics of horseracing and/or gambling will not only be considered off-topic, but will rightly be regarded as an attempt to derail a conversation about the rape culture.]