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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why I Need Feminism: Because "wasn't she drunk" isn't an excuse.

Last semester, a friend and I were discussing the details of the Steubenville High School Rape Trial. He hadn't heard much about the case so I was explaining what occurred when he paused and asked the dumbest question - wasn't she drunk? I stopped mid sentence and didn't know how to respond. I'm not sure if he realized it, but he was trying to justify her rape. After overcoming my initial shock, I told him her alcohol level shouldn't have been a reason why her rape was "okay." Before I move on, I would like to clarify. It doesn't matter if she was drunk. Drugged. Dressed like a "slut." You don't have the right to rape her.  

Unfortunately, too many people don't see this problem. Rape and sexual assaults are not just plot lines of a Lifetime movie. Having an two X chromosomes means that I am ten times more likely to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. One in four college women are victims of rape or sexual assault. 42% of those women will never tell anyone and only 5% will report their attack to the police. What does that mean in context? In my 500 person chemistry class (assuming a 50% are females), 63 women are victims, 26 of those women will never tell anyone and only 3 will report their crime to the police (Rape on College Campuses).

As a female, I have been warned of the "too much" rules. I'm not supposed to wear clothes that are too much (too tight, too revealing, too short) and I'm not supposed to drink too much. I've been taught to carry pepper spray, watch my drink, walk in groups and avoid being in risky situations. I appreciate this advice. I really do understand where you are coming from. If I go to the savannah, I should understand that a lion could attack me. But this isn't the savannah. Men are not wild creatures and going to my car at night isn't a "fight for survival." While I'm being lectured at in every moment, men hear a quick and often confusing lesson about consent. Overwhelmingly, the message is don't get raped instead of don't rape. As a female, you are burdened fear and responsibility every time you leave a secure place. Caitlin O'Donnell describes it perfectly when she says "to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it's a weapon we hold between our fingers when we're walking alone at night." And this needs to change.

I don't have a magic answer and I'm sure if someone did, I wouldn't be writing this post. But I do have a few requests. 1. Understand that rape is never the victims fault. 2. Your "rape joke" isn't funny. At all. Making light of this crime is why so many never report it. 3. Learn more about consent. Whether you are male, female, or somewhere in-between. Let your no be no's and your yes be yes. 4. Talk more about sexual assault. Remove the stigma. Support survivors. Punish the criminals.

Learn more,
Christle

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