On Rape (trigger warning)

The universe is trying to tell me to use the anger I have this week to write a post about rape.

Well, honestly, I don’t know if that is true. But in the last 4 days I have seen numerous articles, tv shows, posts, and comments about rape. All of them include a “blame the victim” theme. All of them talk about how the woman should not have been in a bar, should not have gone to a party, should not have worn certain clothes, should keep their wits about them (don’t drink) so they don’t get raped. One tv special included a young woman telling the world not to let their daughters go to high school parties. Another story was a judge letting the attacker off easy while lecturing the victim for being in a bar. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/09/07/809861/judge-to-woman-sexually-assaulted-by-cop-when-you-blame-others-you-give-up-your-power-to-change/ 

Let me be as clear as I possibly can here. This. Is. All. Bullshit.

One more time:

This. Is. All. Bullshit.

I am going to use “women” as the term for victim here, and “men” as the term for the perpetrators. Please understand I know men and women can both be victims and attackers. I am simply trying to make my point more easily understood.

Let me break it down for all the people out there who don’t understand that what a woman (or little girl) wears does NOT have any bearing on them being raped.

Rapists are not interested in sex. They are interested in power. Sexual contact is simply the way they use that power in these instances. 

When we talk about how a woman was dressed, what type of environment they were in, whether they were alone at night, whether they smiled at their attacker earlier, whether they went on a date with their attacker, whether they might have kissed or held hands with their attacker, whether they had a drink or two before the attack, we TAKE THE FOCUS OFF OF THE ATTACKER, AND PUT IT ON THE VICTIM.

This is unacceptable. 

In our society we allow rape to continue by the use of the dialogue we have surrounding rape. We tell our daughters to watch out for themselves, to be on the defense, to walk with keys in their fingers, to stay in well lit areas, to wear modest clothes, to stay away from bars/parties/campus at night/male friends alone/frat houses/dark parks/parking lots after dark/jogging trails between certain hours…. The. list. is. endless.

THEN we tell them what to do if you are IN that situation. If you are attacked. We tell them to fight, to claw and bite and scream. To do what the person says if that’s what gets you out alive. To never give up. To follow your gut. To give in. To not give in. How to kick out the tail light on a car in case you are thrown into a trunk…. Again – endless.

(I can’t even start on the babies in bikinis or halter tops conversation.)


Where is that conversation? 

How many people have conversations with their sons about “do not rape”?

How many people out there talk about no meaning maybe and maybe meaning later and not right now meaning sometime in front of their sons? 

How many people out there say “Unless you have express, no enthusiastic, consent from the other person, RED LIGHT, stop, do not pass go, put that train in reverse and get the hell out of there.” And say it at a young age, and say it loudly and more than once?

How many of us do that?

I have a son. He loves girls. He loves 14-17 year old pretty girls. We all think it’s cute for him to walk up and hug the babysitter 3 times before she leaves and tell us she is pretty. Aw, that is so cute! He is only 5. He means nothing by it. But am I teaching him to get permission before he touches someone? Am I teaching him to say “can I have a hug?” before wrapping his arms around her waist? Where are those conversations? From me, a devout feminist and anti rape advocate? What am I doing?

Here is what I think we need to do. We need to change the direction of the conversation. We need to teach our boys what rape is. We need to teach our boys that no means no. That you ask before you touch. That you touch with gentleness and kindness and listen to what your partner is saying. 

We need to make it clear to society that we DON’T CARE what any circumstances were. We don’t CARE if she was _____________________. 

We DO CARE that someone raped someone else. We care and we care a lot. We want those people off our streets. We want our children and neighbors and sisters and friends protected. 

We need to shift the conversation away from “men are such brutes, they can’t even control themselves, so YOU have to control the situation, my daughter.” to “THIS is unacceptable in our society. For anyone. Anywhere.” 

That is the only way we will start to get a handle on the epidemic of rape in our country.

And men, I want YOU to start speaking up. When the conversation turns to “what she was wearing, what she was drinking, where she was at”, YOU need to speak up. Because basically what is being said in that conversation is that males are so base, they are so animalisitc, that they walk around all day barely able to keep their hands off every woman they see. In fact, they are so primitive that if a woman walks by in a short skirt or is in a bar, they simply can’t control themselves and, OF COURSE, someone is going to get raped. Is that true men? Is that what you want society to think of you?

I don’t believe it is true. I don’t believe that because I go to places all the time with good and decent and kind men where women are dressed provocatively, or where women are dressed in bathing suits, or where women are having drinks, and I don’t see men running around attacking women at every turn. Because men do know the difference between “I am wearing a halter top” and “I want to have sex with you.” And there ARE no mixed signals when women do these things. That is an excuse, and a poor one, and one that falsely puts the blame on the victim.

I don’t believe we want our society to give people a free pass for such heinous things. I don’t believe we want our daughters walking around in fear and our sons being compared to apes. Because they aren’t. 

 The dialogue must change. We have a chance, as aware and enlightened parents to change the conversation and change the epidemic of rape.

Seize that chance with me.


2 thoughts on “On Rape (trigger warning)

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