” Last year, soldiers were 15 times more likely to be raped by a comrade then killed by an enemy.”
This is a story a friend has bravely shared with me, a story about her experiences not only in the States but in other parts of the world as well.
Sometimes I wish I had been born ugly. Sometimes I wish I had been born a boy. As luck would have it though, I was born to blossom fully into womanhood at the young age of 10. Having an hourglass figure in primary school attracted the wrong sort of attention from men. I was just a child when a man in the back of a bus pinned me down like a butterfly and attempted to have his way with me. He picked the wrong girl to mess with. He wears a scar on his face. I wear a scar on my heart.
When I was still in grade school, I went to Louisiana with my youth group to help rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I helped to build a house for a man I would never forget. He told me I was the most remarkable lady he had ever met, and treated me with the utmost respect, until he didn’t. He would find me in dark rooms. In crawl spaces. He would whisper things to me that no 80 year old should whisper to a girl who had just become a teenager. He brushed my breasts and kissed my neck. He told me he would give me everything in his will if I stayed with him and married him. When I told my church director about it, they said they would keep a better eye on things. They didn’t.
When I was 18 years old, I went to a fair ground with my best friend. We met these cute twins who asked if we would like to have some beers with them. What we couldn’t know was that those beer cans had been injected with a needle. I woke up in a padded leather room with bunk beds in the back of a semi-truck, with a gun to my head and a man relieving himself between my thighs. When he finished, he was replaced by another man, and then another. I have no idea how many hours passed that way until the fight broke out. The men couldn’t agree on whose turn it was next. It was the distraction I needed to bolt out the door. I ran naked across the parking lot, being chased all the while by a man with a shotgun. He gave up when I made it to the road. Shaking and in shock, I threw up everywhere, and prayed to wake up. When people ask how I lost my virginity, this isn’t the story they expect. It wasn’t the one I expected either. I still believed I was saving myself for “the one.” That night shattered my world.
After that night I was scared of men. I was scared of alcohol. I was scared of parties. After that night I became a victim. I eventually found a sweet boy in college who I fell for in an instant, but took things slow with. He was understanding about my past and my fears, and eventually, I felt safe enough to date him…but I never liked having sex with him. When the sex started to hurt, I would remember that gun to my head, and would revert to a place deep inside myself where I wouldn’t feel anything until it was over. My boyfriend knew I didn’t want it, and didn’t enjoy it, but he pressured me into it all the same. I just figured I didn’t like sex. I also figured it was what I was supposed to do in my role as his girlfriend. I would stare at myself in the mirror, trying to psych myself up to sleep with him that night in hopes that maybe he would leave me alone for a few days after that. I didn’t know then the true meaning of consent. I didn’t understand that rape can happen in a quiet room with the one you love.
After four years of terrible sex I came into my own. I moved across the sea to Japan and enjoyed the new freedom of singledom to its finest. I learned that I could enjoy sex, so I did. Then one night I went on a date with a boy. Dinner and karaoke. I was a little nervous to be alone in a room with him, but there was a glass door that everyone could see in, so I figured I was okay. What I couldn’t know was that he had paid the men at the front desk so that no one would come down our hallway. When the struggle started, I gave in and did what I was conditioned to do. I curled up deep down inside myself and waited for it to be over. I hated myself for being a victim instead of a fighter. Where was the girl who had fought back so bravely in the bus? When he left me there, I slowly gathered up my clothes, and my sanity, and all of my rage. Rage at myself for not retaliating, for being stupid enough to put myself in that situation, yet again. Then rage that I lived in a world where I couldn’t feel safe on a public date.
I moved to Korea, a country that is 117th in the world in terms of gender equality. At the time, I didn’t comprehend what that meant for me. What is meant was men grabbing my crotch on the sidewalk, and masturbating next to me on the subway train. What it meant was learning to sit in the back of taxis so the drivers couldn’t touch my thighs, and that even wearing jeans and a t-shirt couldn’t exempt me from being asked “how much?” while walking home from work. What it meant was being picked up from behind with my arms pinned to my side and being dragged to a table with a group of men, kicking and screaming all the while, and then being asked what the hell was wrong with me, because he was a “nice guy.” What it meant was losing my right to vote, and my ability to fight back or speak out against these injustices without losing my job and being deported. I finally had the fight back within me, but I didn’t have a platform to use it. I loved the city, I loved my job, but I had had enough. My heart breaks for all the women who don’t have the ability to leave.
I hate to think of all the injustice out there in the world that I don’t ever see or hear about. All the quiet survivors. All the unnamed victims. It sure seems like I have had my fair share of harassment, when going through this list of events, and I am just one person. That’s not to say that it was all bad. Certainly, I have also experienced moments of love and true passion. I have experienced sex with respect and consent. Those should have been my only experiences, but I wasn’t born that way.
I was born a woman.
These are not stories I usually talk about. They are not your typical dinner conversation. They are not things that I like to remember. But, if my stories can teach anyone that they are not alone, that they have to right to consent, and that this world is in serious need of healing, then they are worth re-living.
1 in 5 women are assaulted in college compared to 1 out of 25 men.
An estimated 5% of college rapes are reported, making it one of the most underreported crimes.
4 out of 5 of these women suffer PTSD. So why is rape not taken seriously? Why is a student immediately kicked out for copying someone else’s work, but rapists are not? One of the popular cases regarding rape is at Columbia University, when the school refused to expel her rapist. In response, she started her own project, protesting the school’s decision.
Obama’s proposed budget does not fund abstinence based education, taking away a total of 10 million dollars. He is taking initiative and taking responsibility for American youths. This is a big step towards the right direction! Unfortunately, this is not a sure thing yet, as Congress has yet to discuss the proposal.
1/3 women has been harrassed at work. Read more here:
As women fight more to be equally dominating in all kinds of fields, they are, of course, often held back for a number of reasons, one of them being harassment. Only 29% of women reported sexual harassment, while only 15% of feel that the problems are handled appropriately. Women of higher positions are insulted, their hard work tainted by ugly rumors claiming they’re only there because they “slept their way to the top.” However, women of lower positions are more likely to experience sexual harassment. The problem goes both ways.
I asked some friends what rape culture is to them. Here are some responses:
“Victim blaming. The fact that people stand behind the rapist more so than the victim. The fact that it is always the victims fault, and that there’s an idea that the clothes a victim is wearing is due to their rape. People don’t question the mal intent of the rapist, just the fact that somehow, some way, the victim brought it upon their self”
“When people ask what the victim was wearing or doing and use it as justification for rape before they ask if the victim is okay (clearly not but still) or when the victims are ridiculed but the criminal is praised or not given punishment equal to or worse than what the victim had to go through. The fact that the victims are afraid to say something about what happened to them because chances are everyone will take the side of the criminal from the beginning or because even when victims speak out nothing happens to the criminals.”
“Rape culture is the personal belief among some members of society that there is a disproportionate likelihood of females being sexually assaulted because society condones it through movies, video games, etc. This is by no means true, and has been shown false many many times, but people keep talking about it as if it’s a reality. It’s a way for people to justify their internal biases, by pretending they have a basis in fact when in reality there is hardly any correlation statistically between a person’s gender and there likelihood of being sexually assaulted during their lifetime.”
“Rape culture is something that has been blown out of proportion with feminists and the media… It is something that they use to put the blame on others and avoid the bigger problem of rape..
I believe rape is terrible but the way that some women speak of it makes rape culture seem like it’s only a problem women face and not something that is a problem in society”
“To me rape is a desensitized word. People are more grossed out or disgusted by hearing words like moist or pussy but the word rape has no effect or reaction. It seems more of a statistic or number rather than an actual problem. to me rape is not seen as big of an issue as it should be. If someone talked about periods and pads and tampons everyone gets uncomfortable and grossed out but talking about rape? It’s usually not the same physical repulsion. I saw this post on tumblr one time that had a pad taped onto a traffic pole in public that read something like “what if people were as disgusted by rape as they are by this pad?” I think people understand the basis that: rape is bad. but a lot of people don’t understand the different kinds of sexual assault and rape and what consent is (aka if you are drunk or unconscious they are not giving consent, they don’t have the ability to) and they don’t understand it can happen to everyone : boys and girls. and it’s being desensitized and being seen as a joking mechanism by saying things like “this test is gonna brutally rape me” (I’ve heard this so many times) and it’s not something that should be jokes around at all. Because it’s not funny and it shouldn’t be made into a joke. Also, it doesn’t matter if a girl is flirty and wears low cut shirt or tight dress or short skirt. that isn’t giving another person permission and it doesn’t mean “she’s asking for it” just because she feels confident in what she wears and her body doesn’t mean she has to be subjugated and treated and talked to like an animal or an object. And just because a guy is weak or submissive doesn’t mean he can be taken advantage of. NO MEANS NO AND IF THEY ARE DRUNK OR UNCONSCIOUS THEN THAT EQUALS TO NO CONSENT. I don’t get how people could force themselves onto another person like that it boggles my mind. It makes me mad that rape isn’t taken seriously and it’s seen that women are being too sensitive or too provocative and women are the ones at fault somehow like don’t get raped!! don’t do this!! don’t wear that!! don’t go anywhere alone at night!! Why can’t people have the decency and ability to NOT RAPE, why aren’t people being told DON’T F*CKING RAPE and also why aren’t rape cases treated as harshly as they should be!!!!?”
While asking many of my peers for their opinions, I find it very interesting that while the females would mainly focus on the victim himself/herself and the way society views them, the males focus more on how men are equally victimized and call for the need for the focus to shift to men more.
Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped when she was 14 and raped daily. The question a lot of people have for her is, “Why didn’t she just ran away?” Elizabeth Smart discusses in the last article the reason why she didn’t “just run away.” She felt like she was disgusting, filthy, and unwanted because of her religious, abstinence-only upbringing. Comparing women to gum or flowers affected not only Elizabeth Smart in her traumatizing experience but the majority of women today. The ideology that sex is dirty leads to slut-shaming- putting women down for any sexual experiences they’ve, consensual or nonconsensual. It teaches women that their identities are intertwined with their virginities.
“Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.”
Only 2-8% of rape reports are false, so why is there always doubt surrounding any allegation of it? This VOX article explores the possible answers to this question by taking a look at history and at societal attitudes towards women and their emotions. Highly recommended article! Once certain perspectives are understood, change can be accelerated.
When Kesha wanted to stop working with her producer and alleged rapist, Dr. Luke, her case made national headlines when a judge dismissed her case,forcing Kesha to continue working with SONY because of her binding contract.