This is not my first, nor will it be my last, blog post about the way women are viewed, disrespected, and poorly treated in our society. I have written posts about the ways schools use dress codes as a means of blaming teenage girls for the natural changes taking place in their bodies and the hormones running rampant among the teenage boys in their classes. I have written about the ways that female sports are seen as less important, taking away their gym time and their chances at scholarships. I have written about the way society groups everything into pink or blue, and the damage it causes little girls to be told over and over that they are nothing but a pretty little princess.
And now, after reading some disturbing articles in this week's news, here I am - once again - writing about how hard women really do have it, in an America that slut shames, places blame, and does not protect its women.
Disturbing article read in this week's news: A female college student gets raped in her dorm room and there are no consequences to the male student from the school. The female student, in an effort to publicly put on blast the shame she carries around knowing that her perpetrator is still on campus, carries her twin mattress around school with her all day every day. This is happening, on a college campus in America, as I type this blog.
This story (and the thread of comments on social media, blaming the whole ordeal on her) made me sick.
No, it made me want to arrive on this campus, mattress in tow, and walk to classes with this chick so she's not alone in her crusade. How is it possible that in 2014 we are still even remotely suggesting that rape, in any form, falls on the fault of the victim?! Whether this young woman was drunk or high or out at night or dressed provocatively, did not give any young man any right to her body, did not give him any right to follow her home and attack her. This is an issue that seems to be all over social media forums recently, and I can't even grasp why it is a debatable question: if you put your dick in someone's vagina who did not ask you to do so, you are fully in the wrong.
I was - unfortunately - part of a conversation last Thanksgiving with a group of guys after dinner. We had been drinking, we'd had a huge meal, and they were yelling about the football game. Somehow the conversation shifted to the subject of rape (I think there was something in the news at that time as well, that brought it up). One of the guys at the table said, and I quote "if a chick is wet enough that you can even get it in, it's not rape...that means she's gotta be into it at least a little."
I'll assume you all just fell out of your chair, so I'll wait to go on.
Yes. A guy said this to me. And no, not a punk brainless teenager. A man, my age, who by the way I had never met before, looked me in the eye and argued with me that it was not a rape against a woman, if her vagina physically allowed a man's dick to enter it. Fucking what the fuck did you just say?! And don't make fucking excuses for him as you're reading this either, or you are contributing to the entire problem and should be ashamed of yourself. No he was not joking. Even if he was, that is not an okay joke to make to a woman you are in an apartment with, whom you have never met. And like I said, he wasn't joking.
Let's talk science for a second. Or anatomy, or whatever. It is, in fact, possible that a vagina might be a little bit wet at any given moment, for any given reason. A woman's vagina, despite what you read in the Science of Pornography, does not turn from a dry, dusty wasteland to a sopping puddle of pleasure just when she's about to have sex (and I mean consensual here). There is no standing room temperature of the vagina, nor is there any rhyme or reason behind how wet a vagina is throughout the day. And also, as many of us have learned from having (consensual) sex before we knew what the hell we were doing, a guy's penis can actually make it's way into a dry vagina, though it is certainly not a comfortable circumstance.
Scientifically speaking, it is in fact, physically possible for a woman to have sex that she does not want to be having in the slightest, with a man who is attacking her, even if her vagina is "wet enough to get it in." It worries me, for my entire generation and the lack of appropriate sex education, that you might actually believe otherwise.
Men like this guy are the reason that women are blamed for their own rapes, for their own attacks. They are the reason that when a woman is raped, the first questions she gets asked are, what was she wearing, and how drunk was she. They are reason that men are not expelled from school after they follow girls back to their bedrooms after parties. Men like this guy are the reason college girls are carrying their mattresses around campus.
When a man rapes a woman, it is one hundred percent his fault, and literally zero percent hers. It doesn't matter if she is drunk or dressed "like a whore," or whether she is out late at a party or a bar and walking to her car in the dark. The suggestion that a woman plays any role in her own rape is something that happens every day in America, something that reminds women every single day, that no one is looking out for us. It is something that reminds me that when I go out to a bar, I need to keep one hand on my beer at all times, and that I should choose what I wear based on whether I am meeting a friend or going alone to grab a bite. It is something that reminds me to wear shoes I can run in, to get my keys out of my bag before I go outside, to never get too drunk to drive - even at the neighborhood bar I could walk home from, because I can't be outside alone at night. Society's suggestion that should I be attacked, I can expect to be asked what I was wearing, is a reminder to check what I'm wearing for length and appropriateness, in case I have to answer that.
A woman should never be ashamed that she was raped. She. Was. Raped. Someone else raped her. Someone else attacked her. She did nothing wrong. Chances are, in fact, she did everything right. Most likely, she had her car keys in her hand before she walked outside. She probably wore something socially acceptable that made her feel like she looked pretty; she likely had her hair and makeup the way she felt made her look her best. She did nothing wrong. She watched her drink all night, never letting it out of her sight because she knew better. Most likely she was not alone, but with girlfriends, and maybe she got a little buzzed, but she never let herself become unaware of her surroundings. She did nothing wrong. And she was attacked. A man attacked her. A man followed her, or hit her, or drugged her, or in his own way, took her. And that is not her fault.
If you are raising a daughter in America, continue to teach her to be careful. Sadly, we need to be careful, no matter where we are. But also remember to teach her that should something horrible happen to her, that it did not happen because of her, but rather because of a man who chose to take what he wanted of her. She is not to blame. She is not a slut. She is not a whore. She is a woman who left the house and was violated. Don't let her feel shame or fault or guilt or remorse. Help her feel safe and secure and strong. Teach her to stand up for her girlfriends and to march with her mattress alongside her roommate should her roommate need the support. Make sure she has a voice that she is not afraid to use.
Even more importantly, if you are raising a son in America, teach him that he is not entitled or deserving of any part of any woman. Teach him that no means no, not maybe. Teach him that a short skirt or a low cut top does not give him right to a girl's body. He is not entitled. No woman is his. Don't let him grow up to be demanding or aggressive; help him instead to be aware and considerate. Teach him what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman. Make him aware that women are constantly afraid of what he and his friends may do to them at a party if they get to drunk, that they are constantly faced with the fear of walking home or to their cars in the dark. Make sure he understands the fear women feel, and teach him how to be a source of change.
That is the only way we will ever change this disgusting cycle of victim shaming in America. Do your homework. Read the hundreds of thousands of #yesallwomen tweets (if you don't know what that is, look it up). Read them and take them seriously. Read them with your sons and daughters. Educate yourself on what it means to be slut shamed, what it means to be a victim. Read, learn, and make a statement. And when no one listens, pick up your mattress, and carry it around town.