Thursday, June 16, 2005

21st Century news flash

Rape is a crime against women, and not a crime for which women are to blame. We were screaming this at the top of our lungs in the 70's, and here we are, in a new century, screaming it again. Hello, we're still here, and what part of "against her will" don't you understand?

A man who was convicted of raping a woman (and for that matter, physically abusing a number of men) went to prison but didn't miss a beat in his reign as a sports icon. A man who repeatedly sexually assaulted women, one of whom allegedly was an adolescent, was elected governor of California. Rape and sexual assault run rampant in the U.S. military, both in the field and at military academies, and women who report it are punished. A man who has been accused by his former wife of forcing her to participate in group sex is the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

If I were given to riffing on the catchphrases of moronic hypocrites, I'd say that what we have here is a culture of rape.

If a man walks down the street alone counting the bills in his money clip and stops to talk to a stranger who then robs him, there is not a discussion the next day at every coffee shop in America about what an idiot the man was. There is certainly not a consensus that the robbery was his fault. Because it wasn't. But if the same scene involves a woman walking by herself and getting raped or sexually assaulted, well, what was she doing out alone? Didn't she know not to talk to strangers? I heard she'd been drinking. Not only that, she was wearing a cropped shirt.

No one said about the guy in Deliverance "What the hell was he doing alone in that swamp?"

Becoming hyper-cautious doesn't work, either. Once, I was walking alone in a big city. A man came toward me on the sidewalk, and my instincts told me to avoid eye contact. When we passed, he moved over to where I was, got in my face, and said "Scared bitch!" to me.

I thought that now that I was older, I was forever finished hearing the verbal assaults of men who still haven't gotten the message that it is crude to yell sexual things to women. No way. Several months ago, I went to a nearby city and was walking around in the university area when a group of young men yelled and whooped at me from the balcony of a fraternity house.

It is true that some young women do use very poor judgment in choosing to go off with men whom they do not know. However, "young" and "poor judgment" go hand in hand. I shudder to think of some of the stupid things I did when I was a very young woman.

It is also important to note that many of these young women were victims of childhood sexual abuse, often by family members. Their boundaries have been violated in such a way that they no longer have a clear idea of what their boundaries are, and they are prone to make poor decisions regarding them. Also, many of them believe, at least unconsciously, that they are not particularly good for anything but attracting men. And they are almost always unconsciously seductive. In short, they need help, not more sexual assault and rape.

The American culture absolutely supports the sexual assault and rape of women and girls. I no longer have any doubt about that. The rapists have the public on their side (though the public is probably willing to capitulate if the victim is white and the perpetrator is of color), and women and girls who report rape--and thousands of them don't--are shamed just as much today as they were thirty years ago.

8 Comments:

You are utterly and completely right - brilliant post.

And add to that how ghastly the legal system treats women who are raped. It's basically insult to injury. Most times the rape victim is revictimized by having her entire private life put out there for all to see - as if that has anything whatsoever to do with her having been raped.

Even the victim's therapist or psychiatrist's records can be subpoenaed. It's horrific.

"Culture of rape" is an apt description of our society. I have been harassed in just about every office I've ever worked in. One went so far I had to file suit, and it settled, but it dragged on for 2 years and of course I'd never want to have that experience again. Women don't even KNOW they are being harassed because they get used to it.

Harassment is just "rape lite" in my opinion. It's a victimization based on gender that is perpetrated by a man in order to exert his power over a woman; it's a way to cause fear and shame. Isn't that rape? It's just not necessarily physical. And I will tell you that my therapist explained to me that the symptoms I was experiencing at the time of the harassment were the same that many women show after being raped or abused or harassed.

That whole deal where it's immediately asked what the victim was wearing or if she was out late, drinking, etc. makes my blood boil. That whole concept that the woman causes her own rape by being too enticing is so archaic and idiotic. When will our society learn?

By Blogger Unknown, at 12:22 PM  

"It is also important to note that many of these young women were victims of childhood sexual abuse, often by family members. Their boundaries have been violated in such a way that they no longer have a clear idea of what their boundaries are, and they are prone to make poor decisions regarding them. Also, many of them believe, at least unconsciously, that they are not particularly good for anything but attracting men. And they are almost always unconsciously seductive. In short, they need help, not more sexual assault and rape."

Thank you for this paragraph. It's painfully, painfully true.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:08 PM  

I forgot to mention that only days after Ah-nold's "bombshell" accusation, apparently, he appeared on Oprah with his wife, and Oprah totally backed Ahnold and has always been behind him, all because she's friends with Maria Shriver. Those rich 'n' famous folk sure do stick by each other no matter what!

For someone who suffered sexual abuse herself, cries about it on her show, and is constantly claiming to want to help women who have suffered abuse, how dare she promote the governorship of this molester jackass?

I didn't see the show but did read about it. I don't watch Oprah anyway, and I already sort of hated her for making that nasty Dr. Phil famous...

By Blogger Unknown, at 8:29 PM  

Oprah has become an ass. Supporting Schwarzenegger, parading one animal abuser after another on her show, promoting the eternally creepy Dr. Phil--I can't stand it.

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