March 19, 2013

Rape Culture

Posted by meli on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 in , | No comments
I don't know how to start this, so I'll just get right to it.

I was raped when I was 15.

I knew immediately it was wrong and I called the police. An officer (just one) showed up to take my statement. After reading over my account of what happened, he asked me what I thought was going to happen when the man (a man, a 31 year old man who I worked with) knocked on my window. He asked me what I thought was going to happen when I made the decision to go outside and take a walk with the man in the middle of the night. He asked me what kind of message I thought I was giving to the man that made him believe sex with me was a probable.

The officer left my house when the only answer I had to any of his questions was tears.

I immediately talked myself out of it being rape. Told myself thing like:

"it's my fault I let it go so far in the first place",
"I didn't say no loud enough",
"I did make the decision to go with him. I have to take responsibility for that",
"I kissed him. I wanted to kiss him. I must have wanted more",
"it wasn't violent, so maybe it wasn't really even rape".

On and on I went until I manipulated myself into believing that 1. it wasn't rape, and 2. no matter, it was my fault anyway. I didn't tell anyone else about it for a long time. Not until after I was married.

That sucks. Everything about it sucks. I was violated twice that night. And I wish I could say "well, that was a long time ago ... our society has changed a lot since then".  But I can't. Sure, it was about 18 years ago, but not a whole helluva lot has changed. Our culture still puts more pressure on a person to not GET raped, then it does to NOT RAPE! Our society still likes to point fingers, humiliate and blame the victim (she shouldn't have been drinking, she shouldn't be wearing that, she shouldn't have gone off with him, etc etc etc). It's sick. And twisted. And fucked up!

I have obviously been following the Steubenville rape trial, and it is clearly triggering some shit in me.
A lot of feelings. Anger and disgust. Compassion and love. Frustration and rage. The whole thing is heart wrenching. And I feel it for all involved.

My compassion and empathy for all of the people involved in this is strong and unwavering.

But that compassion and empathy does NOT mean that I think both of the rapists, and every single witness that did nothing, should have lesser consequences. It does not mean that I am excusing their actions, and decreasing their blame. They made a choice to use a 16 year old girl for their own amusement. They dehumanized and humiliated her. They used her as a prop. They raped her. And they laughed about it. They cheered about it. They bragged about it. People who were witness to it took video of it. Photos. Sent them to social media sites. Laughed and encouraged. Each of them made a choice. And they are responsible for the consequences of those choices.

It's horrifying. The rape. The onlookers who encouraged it. The witnesses who did nothing to stop it. And while the courts determine their consequences (consequences that reach the fullest capacity as allowed by law, I would hope) ... we have to ask ourselves why? Why were so many of these kids ok with this? Why did no one do anything to stop it? Where are we failing our children? What responsibility do we, as a society, as a culture, have in this? I think everything. I think this horrific incident lies on all of us.

And I know that opinion is pissing a lot of you off. I'm ok with that. I'm ok pissing people off (shocker, right?) for the shit I believe in.

When an entire group of kids didn't feel that what was happening to this 16 year old girl was considered rape ... we've got more work to do. Especially considering the fact that this isn't an isolated case. This exact scenario is playing out in schools all across the country. Dolling out consequences to the specific individuals involved in this case is extremely important! Make no mistake. But feeling compassion, empathy, understanding to get us to ask ourselves the tough questions is just as important. Taking responsibility and fighting for the changes that will propel our culture forward is paramount.

Don't rape!
A simple concept.
A concept that too many are missing right now.
Ask yourself why.
And then do something about it!


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