Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece, and does not reflect the views of the institution or Her Campus. The content may be triggering for some readers, and should be viewed with this in mind.
I woke up with my underwear missing and a pounding headache. It was a Friday morning. F**k, I thought, I’m late for class. I stood up and texted my boyfriend a good morning message and noticed a sharp pain my vagina but since I was on my period, I accounted for it as just cramps. The bottle of Smirnoff was sitting on my dresser, nearly empty. My roommate wasn’t home. I found my underwear under my bunk bed with my pad still attached. When I lifted it, I saw a dark brown stain on the carpet near the foot of my bed. My boyfriend texted me back. He said,“Last night was amazing”. I responded with a question mark. He said, “I wish we had had sex sooner”. A knot grew in my stomach. I looked at my bed and saw that the purple sheets were covered in blood. I looked in the mirror and saw my eyeliner had run down my face like I had been crying. My arms were covered in scratches and had scabbed over a little. I texted him “What happened last night?”. He detailed bending me over the bed and how limp my body was, explaining the puddle of blood. My hymen had been so strong that I couldn’t even finger myself and there was enough blood on the carpet to corroborate his story. I goaded him by being flirtatious so he would tell me what he did, and that he did. He didn’t even use a condom. He told me he pulled out “just in time.” I was absolutely sickened. My virginity was gone to a man I knew I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life with and I don’t even remember it happening. He didn’t use a condom and I was on my period. Not that anyone deserves to know, but I was wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants. I missed my class that day.
Six months prior, I had watched a rapist take the highest leadership available in this country. I knew things would change with his administration but I had no idea how rape culture would evolve. I always knew that victims of sexual assault are blamed for their abuse. But I didn’t know that in Trump’s America rapists are not only heard first, but also are not punished even in the rare instances that the victim speaks out. I was forced to speak out because my rapist and myself met in a club on campus. I had an officer position in the club and was guaranteed a spot on the team for the following year. He hadn’t been elected for anything, but he had been a part of the organization longer than I had been and my fellow officers knew him well. He was good friends with all of them and I knew that when he applied to the team again they would let him in without a second thought. Luckily, I had become closer with the president and her ex was applying to join the team as well so I had my entrance for this uncomfortable conversation. She was a feminist and fought against a serial rapist being a part of the team the previous year. I trusted her and asked her to protect my mental health and safety by not permitting him to be on the team. At first, she was supportive and promised that she would find a solution for me. I figured since I had worked the entire year to gain an officer position and was automatically a part of the team, it would be a nonissue to deny his application. I spent months waiting to hear back while summer break slipped between my fingers. I arrived back on campus early and met with the president. She told me after talking to the former faculty advisor (who she had, coincidentally, been having an affair with) that she couldn’t do anything about it since we had been dating at the time. I asked her if she had ever heard of the term “date rape.” She followed up her line of questioning, the standard “What were you wearing?”, “How much had you had to drink?”, and “Did you have sex afterwards?” with a simple “It didn’t happen on team time so I can’t do anything about it.” I was crushed. She said “I already talked to him. He said it happened but he seemed really apologetic.” Rapist’s tears are not more important than survivor’s health. She suggested that I step down from my officer position if I feel uncomfortable around him.
Two weeks later, I resigned. This officer position was what I had hoped would propel me into becoming the president by my senior year. He’s a part of the team and on the club’s Instagram page, he is posted frequently beaming at the camera as if he were saying “I won,” right to my face. I could go on for pages on why he shouldn’t have been accepted onto the team for reasons that have nothing to do with my rape. How many college dorms have stained carpet? How many of my colleagues have stepped down to avoid being near their aggressor? How many times will this have to happen before we listen to rape victims? Will women’s voices ever be heard?* In the following passage, I hope to explain how the situation I went through is an overarching theme in American culture today and an imperfect example is the 2016 Presidential election. A woman was not heard, and because of it, a rapist was elected to the most prestigious office in the United States.
Hillary Rodham Clinton was an experienced senator, lawyer and politician. She was qualified for the position she sought and she had been working toward that goal for the past term cycle. She seemed like a shoe-in and every prediction pointed to her becoming the first female President. There was obviously more at play than just her gender—she had many flaws in her campaign and even wrote an explanation of every mistake that led to her loss. Ignoring these factors is necessary for the point I am trying to make. Political ideologies aside, I believe that Trump’s rhetoric would have been seen as it is (racist, uneducated, and utterly ignorant) if he had been paired against another man with the same financial support and rhetoric as Clinton. It is ludicrous to believe that this race was not a true battle of the sexes. Trump’s inauguration (or coronation, as I have designated it) was felt by every educated woman across this vast country as a defeat. This man had none of the prerequisites to being the President other than skin color and gender. He was never involved in politics except when rent-seeking as a lobbyist. He was an alleged rapist, and more than twenty women have come forward accusing him of sexual misconduct. Yet he was elected, and his twisted fantasy of becoming the most powerful man in America became a reality. It pains me to watch people like myself who have been victims of sexual abuse pledging allegiance to his flag. No legislation will ever take away the pain he caused those women. I wanted to show my little brother who was born a few months before Election Day my “I Voted” sticker and explain to him that I helped elect the country’s first female president. Instead, we have a nativist sexual abuser in the office I used to fantasize about as my future workplace when I was six. I abandoned that dream when he became President.
*=this article is gender inclusive and acknowledges that men are also victims of rape, however I tell what I know and that is from a woman’s point of view.