The Rape Culture We’ve Created

steubenvilleWhile checking Twitter for something unrelated the following tweet came across my screen:

“@TIME I don’t believe in “sexual assault” is never your fault” in every situation. The 16 yr old girl wasn’t forced to drink – [she] set herself up” – @TheDianeLe

When this tweet entered my timeline I wasn’t thinking about rape. I was thinking about a headache, a date, work. But, as we women know, the subject of violent assault creeps up on us from time to time. We are constantly being reminded to remain vigilant and to be aware of our surroundings.

And so we do. On evenings out we make a pact with girlfriends not to stray too far from the group. Jokes are made about not having our drinks “roofied” when we set them down among friends. As a woman we are taught to be cautious. Far more cautious than our male counterparts. Because you just never know.

 

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The tweet above pissed me off as it should piss off most any female who has spent most of her lifetime being taught how not to be sexually assaulted. When in reality it should be that young men are taught that women are not their personal property or to be used for their amusement. We, women, are human beings who deserve not to be attacked simply because we let our guard down or because we had a drink or because we bared cleavage or because our hemline was too short or because of the number of reasons for which we, women, can be attacked.

Because it’s our fault. That’s what it comes down to. And if we are careful then we won’t become raped. What kind of effed up rationale is that? Why do we, as a society, accept this as fact? Why is nothing done about it? Why is it that when we say that no means no or we express the needed outrage towards ‘rape culture’ that we are threatened even more?

Why?

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For some reason sexual assault became part of the second amendment debate. The reason being that women are more likely to be attacked therefore women need to have a gun in order to protect themselves. When progressive columnist Zerlina Maxwell said on the Sean Hannity show that the onus shouldn’t be on women to prevent rape - the full quote is here: “”I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything,” Maxwell said during the show. “I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.” – she was attacked. Not physically but with words threatening her with bodily harm, having her throat slit, and, of course, with rape.

This is where we are today: be a woman who feels that she shouldn’t be solely responsible for preventing her rape because WHY IS SHE BEING ASSAULTED IN THE FIRST PLACE, be threatened. Some get outraged. Some just shrug. Some just think that’s the way it is in this rape culture that we have brought upon ourselves and for which we are all responsible.

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When the earlier tweet came into my timeline I had been briefly thinking about the Steubenville case. I had followed bits and pieces of course the parts where the town allegedly covered for the accused football players. The arrogance of the teenagers who taped and then posted to YouTube their transgressions. The drunk and unconscious teenage girl urinated on and passed around at a party. Then, upon the conviction of two of the perpetrators, the 16 year old young men sobbing in a courtroom. Not because they were sorry for what they did but because they were sorry they were caught.

Later, on CNN, when speaking of the verdict, reporters Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow expressed sympathy for these two teenagers who were in tears after being sentenced to a year in a juvenile detention center. With Ms. Harlow saying how difficult it was to watch and Candy Crowley saying that they had such promising careers as if there should be some remorse for their lives being destroyed. As if the viewing public should take pity and feel bad for these ‘poor boys’.

These two 16 year old are now registered sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Their flagrant attitudes got them here along with with their assumptions that because a woman is drunk she deserves to be attacked. What got them to this place is the rampant feeling that because a young woman is impaired then it’s her fault and she is fair game.

Unfortunately not just for this young woman, but for all women and men this is the rape culture that we live in.

Keep the conversation going with Heather Barmore at Poliogue: The Art of Political Dialogue, Twitter and Facebook.

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