1. Were you aware that women are told how “avoid” getting raped more than men are educated on how to treat women? That there is a prevalent attitude about women that is finger-pointed with extreme victim-blaming. The kind of accusatory messaging that stops women from wanting to report it, or, you know, makes them fearful about admitting their “promiscuous” pasts to their husbands. Did you know that over three million women are searching for this on Google: “Was I raped?”
For so long all of our energy has been directed at women, teaching them to be more “ladylike” and to not be “promiscuous” to not drink too much or to not wear a skirt. Newsflash: men don’t decide to become rapists because they spot a woman dressed like a video vixen or because a girl has been sexually assertive.
How about we teach young men when a woman says stop, they stop? How about we teach young men that when a woman has too much to drink that they should not have sex with her, if for no other reason but to protect themselves from being accused of a crime? How about we teach young men that when they see their friends doing something inappropriate to intervene or to stop being friends? The culture that allows men to violate women will continue to flourish so long as there is no great social consequence for men who do so.
2. Did you know that men–especially in date rape situations where 84 % of women kn0w their attacker– often think that they’re just being too rough. Or that the girl enjoyed it. That part of the foreplay was saying “no” or that she wanted it that way, you know, ala Jodi Foster in “The Accused.” And because the occurrence is so high–one in four women are victims of rape or attempted rape–women often take the blame off the men and instead blame themselves or make excuses for him.
Says xoJane writer Emily McCombs whose rapist friended her on Facebook (Yes, you read that right, he “friended” her):
When the rapist who took my virginity smiled and walked me home afterward, singing songs to “cheer me up” while my bloody underwear was balled up in my pocket, I told myself, “He didn’t know what he was doing.”
3. This weekend in Salon, Tracy Clark-Flory writes about Maggie Mayhem, a 27-year-old sex-educator and fetish model who detailed her rape for an audience at San Francisco’s Center for Sex and Culture for a “consent culture” fundrasier. Her attacker: a respected person in the S&M community.
The scene that they negotiated was “fantastic,” Mayhem says, but then things took a turn. “I found myself tied up and unable to get away when that individual decided that he was going to have sex with me,” she says, tears welling in her eyes, “even though we’d specifically negotiated against it, even though I was saying that it needed to stop, and even though he was not wearing a condom at the time.”
5. I’ve been in situations with men where my “no” was pushed and prodded and twisted and convinced to the point that I assumed a “yes” because as an insecure teenager and 20-something, I thought that is how I was supposed to act. Maybe stating this –that I was pushed into sex, that I was pushed into losing my virginity–shows how little I know about rape culture. That maybe I was closer to a sexually violating experience than I realize because of this rape culture. Not only did I lose my virginity to someone who pressured me into it, but this same guy, who said he was my friend, that I believed was my friend (why?) caressed my breasts when I was recovering from surgery while I was drugged up on codine. Because he thought I would like it. (I was nothing like this badass who will tell you that slut-shaming is part of the rape culture). My act was firey and sexually secure. My act was to dismiss it. I can take it. It was my fault for trusting him again. My fault. My fault. My fault.
6. About 15 years ago, I wrote a short story about a teenage girl who gets date-raped. She was a victim in that story. Her emotions questioned why did this happen to me? Her actions did nothing more. I’ve turned the story into a YA novel. Not finished with it yet. In it, I write about girl-on-girl victim blaming. Slut-shaming ensues.
But my main character? She’s no longer a victim. She’s a survivor. One who fights back. I’ll have to finish the book and you can see how.
Image: Jack Batchelor