This isn’t about me. It’s about you.
For the first time, I am disclosing, publicly, that I know rapists. Men whom I know have sexually assaulted women I know. Men whom I used to trust. Men whom I said hello to when I walked down the hall in school. Men whom I was friends with. Men whom volunteered. Men whom are outwardly likable. Men whom I’ve come across after I’ve learned of their assault, and whom I had to keep from crucifying publicly to protect the Survivors’ rights and autonomy, and to honor and respect these Survivors’ wishes.
You see, I am not someone who likes to see horrible people get away with horrible things without consequences. But obviously that seems basic. Even a rapist could relate to that.
I don’t want to brag, but, I’m a Feminist. And an Advocate. This post is not only close to my heart — it is a presentation of the matter occupying my brain for a majority of the day — all day — every day. And you, reader, are not angry enough. This should not be happening. This needs to stop.
I also know Survivors. Victims. Men and Women. This is an everyone problem.
And despite the way media (and by that I mean the definition of the term: the main means of mass communication regarded collectively) portrays “the world,” sexual assaults are overwhelmingly historically under-reported.
Someone can be sexually assaulted no matter his/her color, class, race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, financial status, marital status, age, weight, height, or intellect. Essentially, rape knows no boundaries. And because of the nature of the crime, Victims are ashamed to report. But let’s be clear. It has happened to people (PLURAL) that you know. That is a fact. And it has probably happened to someone who you are close to. Someone you see every day. Someone you love.
Sexual violence is about power and control. It is not about sex. That is also a fact. A couple of things. A women who has been sexually assaulted by a man is not “asking for it.” A man who has been sexually assaulted by another man does not automatically become gay, and he’s also not “asking for it.” Woman can be sexually assaulted by other women.
Although I get my fair share of what I call “intellectual idiocy,” I will say that the amount of positive feedback I receive because of my voice far surpasses the critics. And if you’re offended by what I have to say, well, take a number.
But drop your preconceived notions. I do not hate men. I don’t hate men for being men. I don’t automatically support women for being women. And I am not a stereotype.
Harassment. Within the last 3 months, two women who I know from different walks of life reached out to me to tell me they were harassed on the street. To paint a better picture, let me make it clear that these women did nothing except exist in order to receive this treatment. For logicians: they existed –> experienced harassment. Both women, when telling me their stories, had an instinct to correct something within themselves to prevent it from happening again. And that’s a problem. These women came away from these incidents feeling like they had done something wrong. And that’s a problem. And let me say that sexual violence, assault, and harassment are the primary crimes that elicit this reaction. The, “what should I have done differently?” reaction. And that’s a problem.
So when you see and/or hear me criticize the portrayal of women, it’s because it matters. Somewhere along the way, we, collectively, as a society, accepted that these things may happen. And I would argue that not only do they happen, but they are encouraged. They thrive and flourish. They are universally not appropriately addressed or corrected.
Let me tell you about the women and men I know who have been raped, sexually assaulted, and harassed. They are GORGEOUS — although this is not about their personalities. They are intelligent. They are funny. They were exclusively participating in an activity that should have been safe for them — across the board — when they were assaulted, raped, or harassed. And THEY DID NOT DESERVE IT. They didn’t deserve how it made them feel at the time (fear). They did not deserve how it made them feel after (guilty; ashamed; dirty). They did not deserve it at all.
In fact, even if a person is standing before you naked, he/she isn’t “asking for it” and doesn’t deserve anything. If someone drinks or drugs to the point that he/she cannot consent, it is not his/her fault for not being sober enough to stop the assault. What it is, is a crime.
And you need to get involved.
You need to intervene when you see someone being harassed. You need to help someone who looks like he/she could be taken advantage of. And you need to help complete strangers who need help. (For example, if I see a stranger on the street being harassed, I have, at times, walked up to her and said, “oh! There you are. I’ve been looking for you,” and escorted her away from a threat.) Simple. Lifesaving.
You see, we live in a society that asks “Why?” But not in the productive, scientific way. In the basest of ways. In the ways that say, “something must have provoked this treatment.” Wrong. The sole person at fault in any sexual assault, rape, or harassment scenario is the perpetrator or harasser. There is LITERALLY, and figuratively, NOTHING, ANYONE, can do that can justifiably provoke sexual assault, rape, or sexual harassment. And I’m going to go ahead and affirmatively say that if you disagree, you are wrong. If you disagree with that statement, you need to sit down and think about what actions you could take that would make it acceptable or appropriate for someone to sexually assault or harass you. Is the answer, “no acts. None.”? I thought so.
This is just the tip of the iceberg as to where my feminism and anger come from. And to those of you who have been monitoring my crusade into public awareness and outrage, hopefully this gives you a little more perspective as to why.
I want to live in a world where people I know, who know I’m “safe” to talk to because I will never blame them, do not reach out to me to tell me they’ve been harassed [again]. I want to live in a world where my friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and co-workers don’t disclose to me their stories after they know how passionate I am about this. I want to live in a world where the victims of sexual assault, rape, and sexual harassment do not feel guilty because of what some criminal did to him/her. I want to live in a world that condemns attackers. I want it to never be okay for someone to get away with: cat-calling, pulling over on the side of the road to intimidate someone walking to his/her job, forcing himself/herself on someone who trusts the assailant, pouring a girlfriend another drink so she won’t be conscious enough to make a decision, or drugging someone at a party and raping her. I want to live in a world where an observer to behavior consistent with these actions will step forward, and say something.
But until we do, I want to and will help these Survivors and Victims carry the weight that waits for them at the end of every assault.
If you or anyone you know is a Survivor or a Victim, I encourage you to seek resources to help you through your trauma. You are not alone. People, like me, do care about you. I’m not a police officer who will want you to press charges. I am not a doctor who will want to run tests on you whether you like it or not to see the extent of your assault.
I am an Advocate who wants you to know your rights and options. Who wants to tell you that no matter what situation you were in, and who you were with, and what you were wearing, you are not at fault. I want you to know that whatever it is you need to get through it, there is someone who wants to help.
I will not ask you why this happened to you, because I already know.
And I believe you.
And I stand with you.
And I will fight for you.