Hi hello friends and strangers. I very much did not think I was going to write this, nor did I necessarily want to write this, but I have things to say and therefore my voice deserves to be heard.
Let’s forget about the current case gripping the nation, this is very much not a post aimed at any particular party or person. I have absolutely no agenda in posting this other than to share my opinion and hope you can see things from a young woman’s perspective.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in their lives. That means that, statistically speaking, out of the (roughly) 30 girls in my graduating class, 6 of us will be raped at some point in our lives. 6 of the girls I knew from age 10 on. That is an absolutely disgusting thing to have to think about.
At age 14, trucks would honk at me as I ran by; at age 15, a boy told me girls were only good for one thing; at age 16, I was told no one would want to date me if I didn’t want to have sex; at age 17, I sometimes forgot that my body was my own. And now, at age 18, I am terrified to walk around a college campus at night, for fear of unwanted advances.
Is it sexist of me to be scared of men? Is it wrong of me to not trust a guy to walk me home simply because they’re male? If you’re answering yes (even a little bit) let’s talk about it.
Say I did walk home with that guy I met at a party, say something happened, say I was taken advantage of. What would you say then? I can almost guarantee it would be along the lines of “poor girl, but she put herself in that situation”. You’d ask what I was wearing, if I had anything to drink, if I had led him on in anyway, and why did I walk home with him if I didn’t want anything to happen?
I remember telling my best friend about an uncomfortable encounter I’d had with a guy one time. I hadn’t really wanted to do anything, but he did. I hadn’t said no, but I certainly hadn’t said yes, and I can assure you I was not asked for consent to begin with. But as I sat on the carpet of my friend’s room, I made excuses for him. “I didn’t really make it clear. It was my fault. I should have said something, he didn’t know what I was thinking.” “Yea,” she responded, “but did he ask?” “No, but I still should have said something.” She practically rolled her eyes and called me out on my hypocrisy. I am always preaching about how no one should victim blame, and there I was doing it to myself. Now, I am not saying I went through something terribly traumatic or anything near the level of the brave women coming forward, but it was still an uncomfortable situation that I should have never been put in to begin with. And, hey parents, guess what? There’s a 67% chance that this has happened to your daughter (or son)!
And you know what is even more disturbing? A study conducted in 2002 found that 63.3% of men who self-reported rape, or attempts at rape, admitted to committing repeated rapes. And, yes, there is bias in self-reported statistics, but if anything that would mean this number is lower than the true percentage. And no this is not just the way it is and women should just be more careful. I refuse to accept that as the response to all this. I will not tolerate teaching young women to hide themselves for fear of accidentally attracting a rapist! And, yes, that sentence sounds ridiculous, and it’s very rare that anyone has ever said those words, but the implications are often there.
In seventh grade, I was told that “us girls” should follow the dress code so we didn’t distract our fellow-brothers-in-christ.
Just let that sync in for a second. We were twelve and thirteen and already being taught to accommodate for the men in our lives. And I love my fellow brothers in christ, but those homeboys are gonna have to learn how to keep their eyes on the board because my shoulders are going absolutely nowhere.
And for those of you asking why now? Why report these crimes now? Let’s look at the statistics, with convenient links to the research so you can do further research when you try to prove me wrong! Rape is the most underrated crime; 63% of sexual assaults go unreported. For all my college buds, more than 90% of us who are assaulted don’t report it. Why, you ask, why? What a fantastic inquisition, thank you so much for asking.
Because no one effing believes victims. (We have now reached the point of this ted talk where you are thinking oh geez here she goes. She’s getting awfully passionate. And yea, you know why? Because this affects me! And you! And all of the fantastic people in my life! And I wish you could feel just as passionate as me!) If you no longer want to listen to an 18 year old girl spit some hardcore facts at you then I’d recommend reading this article.
Victims, often women, are almost always blamed for sexual assault. What were you wearing, how much did you have to drink, did you make eye contact with him, smile at him, dance with him, did you agree to go back to his place, did you get in bed with him. Apparently those are all valid ways of proving someone consented to unwanted sexual encounters. Listen, I can get dressed to the nines, talk to you at a party, and maybe even exchange snapchats, and still not want to have sex with you! It’s a fairly simple concept! And maybe you’ve been taught wrong and that’s not your fault, but buckle up buttercup it’s time to learn the new ways of the force.
When/if victims come forward, their lives are usually ruined. They are called liars and publicly harassed. They are often called sluts, whores, or that they were-asking-for-it and are forced to relive the memories each and every time they are asked about it. Would any of you want that in your lives? I certainly wouldn’t. Victims who come out are incredibly brave, so so so incredibly brave. Because the consequences are often terrifying.
But what about all those false accusations that ruin mens lives, huh? Well, howdy-hey, I’m quite glad you asked in such a respectful manner. Did you know that only 2% of reported rapes turn out to be false accusations. And that’s out of the roughly 38% of assaults that are actually reported!!! Meaning, if all sexual assaults were reported that number would go way way way down.
Long story short, victims are tired of being called liars, so they choose to stay quiet, to live with horrid memories, to see their rapists faces on national TV, at the Student Store, on Franklin Street, in positions of power. Victims that come forward should be listened to and respected.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. And please, if I have misspoken or those links are wrong, let me know! Life is a journey of growing, and I recognize my journey is still in progress, as is yours. I always do my best to be educated on a topic before I speak on it, and I’d recommend you try doing that too!