With the Stanford rape case all over the place in the last few days, it’s become more apparent just how fucked up our culture is. A white, well-to-do, cis-gender, heterosexual male athlete can brutally rape someone in a dark alley and have very few repercussions. That’s disgusting. And unfortunately, common. A very high number of rape victims don’t report the crime…for many reasons – shame, fear, not wanting to recount the attack and relive it, but perhaps most importantly, because much of society will side with the attacker rather than the victim. Oh, sure, some will feel badly for the victim, but look at what has happened with this case: he got a slap on the wrist from the judge and his father described it as “20 minutes of action.” Seriously? That’s the reaction for such a heinous crime? If he were black, this story would be very different. If she were black, we probably wouldn’t have heard the story at all. If the story had involved members of the LGBTQ+ community, we either wouldn’t have heard about it or it would fuel the fire of the right winged anti-gay political candidates who don’t want people to be able to pee in public restrooms. But the story doesn’t involve any of “those” people, and instead is a simple and revolting look at the magnitude of the rape culture we have around us. And running through us.
As women, we’re taught that being pretty stands above any other qualities. Men tell us to “smile, honey” as we walk down the street. And we do. Why? Because, “Look mother fucker, I’m running late for an appointment and need to find this address, so I don’t need your objectification clouding my focus,” just isn’t ladylike. And beyond that, we’re taught that making a man angry could threaten our safety. We’re taught that “boys will be boys,” that when they poke, punch, chase, kick, or throw things at us as children, it’s because they like us. And we’re all taught that’s okay. That’s what’s supposed to happen. So when we grow up, we’re supposed to take it as a compliment when they hurt us. So we smile, because being paid the compliment of, “See, you’re so much prettier now,” though demeaning as fuck, is much easier to deal with than the possible vengeful reaction that may come if we stand up for ourselves. And because of this, it’s somehow our fault if anything bad happens. Instead of teaching men and boys to control themselves, we’ve taught women and girls to tiptoe around and control ourselves in order to prevent any sort of outburst that could put us in danger. Because men and boys are dangerous.
This kind of societal outlook is not only damaging to us, but also to them! “Hello there, little boy. You’re a menace. You’re allowed to behave in complete asinine ways and injure anyone you’d like along the way. You are not allowed to show any kind of emotion, and in fact, we encourage you to suppress all emotion until it wells inside you as rage. Meaningful connections with other humans are definitely out of the question, as that would put you at risk for feeling and expressing emotion. Stick your dick in anything that moves, whether the recipient is into it or not. You have the power. Power is all that matters.” <– What an awful message!
I sincerely hope, for the Stanford rape victim’s sake and the sake of all of us, that the media and social attention this is getting doesn’t just last a few days and fizzle out like so many other fads. I hope we can wake up and make some meaningful change. We need good sex education and consent education in our schools. Abstinence only education, or a complete lack of information altogether has put us on this path of destruction. Let’s change that. Let’s start teaching children about their bodies and boundaries, about the fact that everyone has different boundaries and those must be respected, about the changes their bodies go through, and when it comes time for them to start asking questions about sex, let’s teach them with quality about safe practices. Let’s work together toward prevention and put an end to rape culture.