As Hot Yellow Fellows put it, I can't believe I'm having to make this post. Except that I can. Because the moment the post that's spurring all of this on went up, I knew full well what was coming. Why? Because she deserved it? No. Because people are often predictable, in a really horrific, terrifying way.
I'm going to start with something simple. A very simple statement of what should be obvious fact, which every decent-hearted human being should be able to agree with. Without hesitation. Without a "however" or a "but" or a "having said that". Without a disclaimer. Without correction. Without justification. A woman should be able to wear whatever she wants, drink whatever she wants, fall asleep wherever she wants, talk to whomever she wants, take whomever she wants home, start to have sex with whomever she wants, 'lead on' whomever she wants, 'send signals' to whomever she wants and not wake up raped the next morning. There is nothing anybody on the face of this planet can do that invites, validates, excuses, causes or deserves being raped. Nothing. Ever. Under any circumstances.
Do we live in a world where women have to be careful? Yeah. We do. Why? Because people make excuses for rape for more readily than they make excuses for any other kind of disgusting behavior. No one wants to accept that. It sounds terrifying, and it's hard to believe of humankind. But it's true. If your friend were to get mugged at gunpoint walking home past dark with a wallet full of cash, would your first instinct be to inform him that he should have (not) done "x", "y" and "z"? Did he deserve to get mugged? Was he asking for it? Did he invite it? Did he bring it on himself? If you thought so, would you feel the need to tell him?
More to the point, why don't men 'need to be careful'? If your male friend met a guy at a club and in a drunken haze, let the guy into his apartment to crash out for the night, and woke up with the guy fucking him up the ass, would you tell him he should have been more careful? Or would you finally see it for the truly horrific thing that it is? When you take away the aspect of a woman needing to know better, a woman needing to watch out for herself, a woman being the one in the situation who is responsible for a man's behavior?
But whatever. I'm tired of trying to explain these kinds of things. You think she deserved it. That she had it coming. That she invited it. Fine. That's your own fucked up logic. You have to live with that. You're making your choices in reasoning out of a pathetic fear-based sense that if you can somehow make it her fault, you don't have to face up to the fact that it could very easily happen to you, or to a woman you love. But you need to keep that to yourself. And here's why: Because statistics say that it has already happened to you, or to a woman you love.
No? Am I wrong on this one? Surely if something like that had happened to someone you love, they would have told you about it. You would know. But, to the best of our knowledge on this very murky, very hesitantly reported issue, one in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One in four college women report having survived rape or attempted rape since their fourteenth birthday. Do you love at least six women? Do you love four? Take a second to count up your female relatives. Ex girlfriends. Do the math for yourself.
This part is especially for the men, because I have an idea that the women already know. Or should know. We don't talk to you about this. This is an area of our reality that you are almost completely locked out of. Why? Because so many times, it's already happened. We get up the nerve to bring it up, to point it out, to speak with a loved and trusted male relative, friend or lover. And what comes out of their mouths in response? Doubt. Questions. Should-haves. Let it happen to you one time. Let yourself open up to someone about one of the most horrific things that can ever happen to a human being having happened to you, and let that person who you've loved and trusted with the most vulnerable part of you turn around and immediately question the validity of that experience, or your responsibility in that experience, and see how eager you are to even chance it happening a second time. Let that person be a person who you've trusted with your body, who is now somehow justifying the worst thing anyone ever did to it. Lay awake at night and think about what that means about his way of thinking about your body, and what rights he may or may not have in relation to it.
I know why you do it. I know you don't want to think about the fact that one in six women is sexually assaulted, and 99% of rape is perpetrated by men. I know you don't want to think about what that does to women, in relation to men, or even worse..... what that means about the fact that you definitely know more than six men. I know you don't want to think about how your mom, plus your grandmother, plus your two sisters, your girlfriend and your aunt equals six. I know you don't want to wonder, which one?
But this is reality we're dealing with. These are facts. Facts that women don't get a choice in facing. So why don't you have to? Why don't you have to take responsibility for your words and your thoughts? It's not enough to relieve the men who rape of their responsibility not to rape, but now we're supposed to excuse you from yours in how you think and talk about rape?
That's fine. Don't take responsibility for it. But know this: the next time the conversation 'hypothetically' goes there, or you post something on the internet for all to see, think about the women who are present at the table, in the room, or who read your blog, facebook, or forums. Think about what, statistically, is likely to have happened to them. Think about how it will make them feel to hear or see those words coming from you. Someone they love. Someone they've trusted. Think about how many times they've had to sit there and silently endure this 'hypothetical' conversation before, how many other men they've heard say, "Yeah, but to be fair.... " or, "I'm not saying she was asking for it, but..." Think about how much she's already lost to that one 'mistake'. That one time she had one drink too many. That one time she decided to let the wrong guy into her home. That one time she should have known better. But she didn't. And she was raped. And she had her whole world turned upside down. And she can't even tell anyone about it, because all they will do is tell her what she already knows. What she can't go back and change. About what she did not deserve. Under any circumstances. What she will spend the rest of her life coping with.
Does she need to hear you say it? Does she need to hear you say it?
Then don't say it.