Rape Culture Realities

One in Three women in their lifetime will be sexually assaulted. Just think about that for a moment. 1 in 3. About 50% of our population is at high risk of being raped or sexually assaulted and we still normalize it. Even little sayings like, “boys will be boys” or “locker room talk” can be detrimental. Because, in our society, we teach young girls that they have to cover up in order for boys to be able to learn. We teach young women to be careful at night and carry pepper spray with them to be safe. We teach rape victims to ask if they may be at fault because of an outfit choice. But, we don’t look at the men responsible. We let boys continue their classes as these young girls are pulled for the length of their skirts. We let boys run around and pull girls’ hair and be rowdy while girls are expected to just let them do these things because “boys will be boys.” We let boys wear whatever they want and even if they don’t wear a shirt to a party, we don’t ask them if they were at fault. We don’t ask how many more times they will rape, we ask how it will affect his “bright future.

Donald Trump is not the first, nor will he be the last to normalize this culture. As a result of our misogynistic society of the past, we have a precedent of wanting to see young men succeed. We look less to women even though over 40% of women in this country are the breadwinners in their family. We marginalize half of our population and try to put this whole problem on them. And, yet again, make them feel like the problem.

But, this isn’t about Trump’s comments. And, honestly, it’s not about what anyone says. It’s about the feeling in my gut I get everytime I hear someone joke about it. It’s about when I stay up late at night because someone posted about sexual assault on facebook, and that’s all I can think about. It’s been 1 year and 11 months and the images in my brain are still the same. I know those images will stay the same for 10 years. I know I’ll never be able to have sex with my significant other when I’ve had even one drink, because all I can think about is that night. I know I will be scared to death when my daughter goes to college, because even if we do start to teach boys in school that they are responsible for rape, too, there will still be monsters out there. Because it’s not just words to some of us. For some of us, roughly a third of all women, it’s moments in time we will never be able to erase. And it won’t just be moments of that night. Because of the words you say, it will be the memory of every time I told someone and they tried to make excuses. It will remind me of when I confided in an adult and he asked if I “had the sort of reputation to condone that behavior.” Or it will remind me of when I told someone and they said, “well, you were drunk so…” It will be the collection of voices telling me that I was the problem, because this boy had a bright future and I could have ruined it if I would have pressed charges. I’m not mad at Trump. I’m disappointed at the fact that we still let it happen. I’m disappointed that there are women who are speaking up and getting their story out there and people refuse to listen. I’m mad that no matter what I do from that day forward, I will always be a statistic and I will always know, in the back of my mind, that when I think of myself, the only word that is always there is: rape.

We Are One in Three