I wrote this a few weeks ago, after the Steubenville verdict and ensuing reaction from the press. I wrote it and I was afraid to post it here, choosing instead to hide it in some more secret, anonymous spaces. Well, today, I say “eff that.”
Because then I read this story (and others, but it was mostly this one). Every time this happens, which is far too often, I am heartbroken. Again.
I’m starting out leaving comments on but moderated, but I’ll close them if I feel I have to.
TW: discussion of rape and rape culture. not graphic
You’re fourteen, and you go with a friend to a party at some older kids’ house. One of the boys asks you if you want something to drink, and you refuse a couple of times before saying, “Okay, I’ll have a Coke.” They bring you the coke and it kind of tastes funny, so you take a couple of sips and leave it somewhere before slipping away.
You’re sixteen, and you’re with your boyfriend at a graduation party, and some of the guys are sneaking extra booze into that girl’s drink when she’s not looking, and they’re laughing and making jokes. You don’t think anything happened to her, but you’re terrified about what could have happened.
You’re eighteen, and you’re trying to break up with that same boyfriend. He threatens to rape you, because if you’re going to leave, you’re going to leave really hating him. You’ve never been so scared…but then he stops and begs you to forgive him. (And you do, sort of, because you’re not quite ready to get out of this mess yet.)
You’re twenty-five, and you’re on a beach vacation with your girlfriends. You and one of the other girls are dancing and having a good time, so you stay out while everyone else goes back to the house. The guys you’re hanging out with invite you to come back to where they’re staying, a few miles down the road. Your friend drives, and you follow them. The guy you’re hanging out with turns out to be very sweet, a total gentleman, and one of the last things you say to him is, “Thank you for being a good guy,” because you can’t stop thinking about how differently this night might have turned out.
You’re twenty-nine, and you’re going to meet a guy you’ve been chatting with on an online dating site. You tell your roommate where you’re going, like you always do, “just in case.” You make jokes about it, but deep down, you know you’re not really kidding.
A comedian makes a joke about a member of his audience getting gang-raped, and the Internet jumps to defend him.
A story breaks about the gang rape of an eleven-year-old girl in Texas, and the media writes about what she was wearing.
A story breaks about a gruesome gang rape in India, and the Internet won’t shut up about how we must do something about those horrible woman-hating rapists over there. People warn their female friends who are visiting India to be careful.
A story breaks about the rape of a teenage girl in Ohio, and even as evidence mounts against the rapists, people blame the victim. The rapists are found guilty, and the media wrings its hands about how those poor boys’ lives are ruined. They don’t say very much about the victim, except to point out, at every opportunity, that she was drunk.
Don’t wear a skirt that’s too short. Don’t get too drunk. Don’t let your drink out of your sight. Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t be a slut. (And don’t forget, you don’t get to determine what it means to be a slut. Everyone else does.) Don’t be out there looking to have sex, because everyone knows if you want to have sex with someone, that’s just as good as wanting to have sex with anyone.
Don’t get raped.
Because if you get raped, it was obviously your fault.
Because if we can believe that, we can believe that it won’t happen to us.
Because if we can believe that, we don’t have to do anything about this problem. We don’t have to try to do better.
Because we don’t have a problem, do we?
Some other good reading on this and related topics:
No, dude, it’s not bigotry
F*ck everything, let’s talk about rape
Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak) weighs in
UPDATE: this link is on the Laurie Halse Anderson post, but I wanted to add it here, too.
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