The song became a viral phenomenon that has circled the globe — from Chile to Turkey, from Mexico to New York City.
It’s far from a bit of pop confection, however: “The Rapist in Your Path” is a full-throated cri de couer that names the state, the police, and the man on the street as perpetrators of everyday violence that women endure the world over.
Victims name and blame
The lyrics are compellingly direct and completely unforgiving: “It’s the judges, the state, the president, the oppressive state is the rapist. It’s not my fault or how I dressed. The rapist is you!”
The song itself is full of compelling, rhythmic chanting, and coordinated dance moves that on the street combine the power of a protest movement and the apparent spontaneity of a flash mob.
And the context in which it which first emerged into the public consciousness — on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Santiago, Chile, amid the ongoing uprisings in that country against a range of societal ills — is telling.
As Chile exploded into its largest expression of public discontent in decades, the world watched in horror as women protestors were brutalized by the police.
Indeed, one of the song’s key barbs is its merciless mockery of a Chilean police ditty about protecting women:
“Sleep calmly, innocent girl / Without worrying about the bandit / For over your smiling, sweet dreams / watches your loving cop.”
The anti-rapist anthem was the brainchild of the Chilean feminist collective Lastesis, which was in turn inspired by the work of Argentinian feminist Rita Laura Segato, who argues that violence against women — from harassment and rape all the way to gender-driven murder (femicide), is ultimately the fault of a patriarchal society.
The song quickly went viral, and has since been performed across the world.
In New York City, a flash mob chanted, sang and danced outside the courthouse where the rape trial of movie-mogul Harvey Weinstein is currently unfolding.
In Turkey, eight female members of parliament sang it to highlight violence against women in their country, where 38 percent of Turkish women are abused by male partners (versus 25 percent in Europe, still an unacceptably hgh number).
In 2018 in Turkey 440 women were murdered—a number that has increased precipitously in recent years.
In Mexico, a staggering 3,000 women are killed every year — but only 10 percent of these crimes is ever solved.
Femicide — along with rape and other types of exploitation of women — are overwhelmingly important social issues, but a recent performance of the song in Mexico City drew mockery, contempt and parody videos from Mexican soccer players, members of the Marines, and a hip-hop artist.
Feminist Maynna Alex Cortes commented that the videos don’t have “a single ounce of empathy” toward the plight of Mexican women.
Though the videos were retracted and their perpetrators disciplined, the fact that they were made at all shows how Mexican women are still “invisible,” Cortes says.
Sources: The Guardian, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, Quartz, Variety