Much has been written about rape culture. That we have a culture nearly world wide that routinely puts the fault of rape on the victim instead of the perpetrator, that routinely normalizes rape by making light of it in popular culture, that routinely expects victims to protect themselves against sexual assault instead of putting that onus on the rapist is deplorable and flat fucking infuriating.
Yet when it continues to happen, when every single day I run into instances where this rape culture continually slaps me in the face with little jabs here and there does nothing but underscores why I a) do the work I presently do (I am an advocate for victims of sexual assault in Anchorage, Alaska) and b) continue to speak up publicly about these injustices even when it can and probably will cause problems in my personal life.
This is no place to mince words. It’s been awhile since either myself or my blogmate and fellow Mouthy Marie (Mouthy C) have posted here it doesn’t lessen the impact of this post. It doesn’t take away the gravity of this problem. Don’t call it a come back, I’ve been here all along. Prepare yourselves this is about to get ugly.
If you are a human being who resides on planet Earth, rape is something that affects you. End of discussion. Chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted. Or you know someone who has sexually assaulted someone. Or you have been assaulted. Or, and God help you if you’re reading this, you’ve assaulted someone. If you can’t think of anyone who fits these categories, just wait. You will. That’s the sad fucked up truth. In your lifetime you will know someone who is affected by sexual assault. And there’s a good chance they won’t report it. Or maybe even tell you about it.
Why wouldn’t someone report something so fucked up that happened to them? Why wouldn’t you want to see the person who assaulted you brought to justice? Because we’ve been trained that we won’t be believed. That we will be put on trial for our sexual histories. That the person who did this will get away with it anyways. Because statements like “the bitch made it up” and “she’s just crying rape” and “men can’t get raped” still get made by ignorant people who don’t know the gravity of what they’re saying. Every time you say something so incredibly fucking stupid you are furthering the stigma victims face after they’ve been assaulted. You are telling the people around you that victims are not to be believed, that they are responsible for their assault, that it wasn’t possible that it even happened, that they misremembered it or that they just flat-out don’t know what happened to them.
Consent is simple. Seriously. So stupidly simple. Yes means yes. No means no. No can happen at any point in a sexual encounter. Even if you started saying yes but change your mind and say no. It’s still a no. If you were too drunk to say yes, it’s a no. If you’re too young to say yes, it’s a no. If you’re unconscious, intoxicated, under the age of consent, mentally incapacitated in any way it’s an automatic no. There is no such thing as ‘grey’ rape. Rape is rape is rape. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, where you were at, how many people you’ve had sex with before, what you do for work, whether you’ve had sex with your attacker or not, whether you’re married to your attacker, whether your attacker is in a position of authority. Whether you’re a drug addict, prostitute, alcoholic, welfare recipient, college graduate, virgin or sexually liberated lady about town. It does not matter. If you didn’t want to have sexual contact and it was forced on you, it is rape. Plain and simple.
The fucking end. I don’t understand why we have to keep saying this. It’s so simple. It’s so basic and fundamentally inherent in the idea, the very concept of free will.
I’m not sure if maybe people just don’t realize how arduous the process of reporting a sexual assault is. You’d have to be either pathologically stupid, criminally insane or a sadist to go through with a SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) exam if you weren’t actually assaulted. First you are interviewed by a detective, you are asked incredibly personal questions about your sexual history, asked to give dates and times and details of every sexual encounter you’ve had in recent and not so recent history. Then you’re asked to recount, in minute detail, every second of your assault. Sometimes mere hours after it’s occurred. Depending on the sensitivity level of the person interviewing you are asked things like “why didn’t you just leave?” and “what were you wearing?” as though that somehow determines whether you were actually attacked.
Then once that indignity has passed you are subjected to the most thorough exam you’ve ever had. Every orifice is poked and prodded and they’ve brought a high-powered digital camera! They take pictures of your naked body, they ask about every bruise and scrape you have on you. They pluck hair from your head and pubic area. Then they focus on your genitals. All of them. Vagina and anus if you’re a woman. They photograph you inside and out. Penis and anus if you’re a man. Same thing, inside and out. They take swabs. They package all this information up and send it out to be tested. They treat you for STD’s, they scare the shit out of you with information about every possible STD you could have been exposed to thanks to your attacker.
Then you wait. Sometimes they can make an arrest right away. Sometimes they can’t. Sometimes they make an arrest and then your attacker is released on bail. If you’re from a small community (like much of my home state of Alaska is) chances are you’ll run the risk of running into your attacker again. Then you get to wait for a trial, a plea agreement, sentencing. It can take years. You’ll be forced to not only live with this thing that happened to you but you’ll have to tell your story over and over and over again.
And then to add insult to injury people are going to say shit like “the bitch made it up.”
Just for moment, before you ever say that again, before you ever don’t believe a victim, think about all they’ve been through before you even found out about the allegations. Think about all that stuff I just listed that they went through. Probably in the middle of the night, scared and alone. If they’re lucky they live in a state that provides an advocate. If they’re not lucky this is happening in an emergency room somewhere with no privacy. Just seriously, think about all of that before you dismiss a victims allegation out of hand. You have no idea what inner torment they’re going through, you don’t need to fucking add to it, you insensitive ass.