No One Asks For It

You hear about it on the news at all hours. You read about it on each social media platform you scroll through. Blaring headlines reveal fresh cases each day, and it seems as though the entire entertainment industry is composed of predators. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about by now. Sexual assault and harassment run rampant in our society. It is a disease that spreads and spreads without end in sight.

Each day appears to be dimmer than the last as more reports of assault are released. It's heartbreaking to see a generation devoted to equalizing the sexes, eradicating the stigma surrounding the female sex and promoting unity between all walks of life also suffer from endless horrendous acts.

Growing up as a girl meant always being told to be aware of my surroundings, avoid walking alone at night, not going for a run after dark on my own and never to talk back to those who catcall and holler. It never surprised me when someone would honk or call out as I walked through parking lots at a mall or strolled around with some friends after school. It was expected even. Of course, the encounters were uncomfortable and often left me irritated and disappointed. Irritated that those individuals felt as though they could yell vulgar things as if I were an object for their viewing pleasure. Disappointed at the state of our society where it is expected for grown men to catcall a twelve year old.

Victim-blaming

To make matters worse, our society has ingrained a culture where victims are immediately regarded with suspicion and thought of to be lying, especially when an individual of power is accused. Victim-blaming is an issue. Because of victim-blaming, many victims do not come forward with a report until such time later or not at all. An article published by The Atlantic details instances of this practice to be: “any time someone defaults to questioning what a victim could have done differently to prevent a crime, he or she is participating, to some degree, in the culture of victim-blaming.” In cases of sexual harassment and assault, victim-blaming comes in the form of questioning the attire of the victim or whether the victim was out alone at night. When an individual is raped, society quickly says, “Well, were they wearing revealing clothing?” as if that gives a green light for the accused to follow through with the act. Society has justified assault on the basis that the offender couldn’t help themselves when faced with a crop top. This is the world we live in. Slut-shaming also comes into play when dress or hour of the day are inspected as the instigation of the crime.

What is slut-shaming?

HuffPost defines slut-shaming as “the experience of being labeled a sexually out-of-control girl or woman (a ‘slut’ or ‘ho’) and then being punished socially for possessing this identity.” I’m sure we have all heard snarky comments about others or have even said them ourselves. Individuals take it upon themselves to judge what someone is wearing or how much makeup they wear and brand them as asking for attention or being promiscuous. Our minds are trained to seek out the details and place negative connotations on what is being seen. Going braless, wearing a short skirt or even showing a sliver of your tummy could deem you as seeking sexual attention. Society dumps you into a category where you apparently have no self respect or self worth. It is astounding to believe that individuals feel the need to deem others unworthy simply because of they way they dress or because they want to take a nighttime stroll.

Asking for it

This has to be one the most disgusting and shameful habits that society harbors. There is a habit to claim that an individual asks to be sexually harassed or assaulted. A girl running to relieve stress at an hour deemed unacceptable to be alone is claimed to be “asking for it.” Who asks to have a traumatic experience, such as sexual assault, be inflicted upon them? Society has become immune to the intense pain that is sexual assault. This crime irrevocably changes the victim's life and spins their world upside down. The resulting suffering and turmoil of such an act strips lives of their luster and dims the light within the victim. Tales of perseverance are out there and are becoming more common, but it is hard not to think of the many victims who never spoke out and carry their pain without relief in sight.

Sexual assault is not something to be taken lightly nor joked about. Society has a severe problem where victim-blaming and slut-shaming has become the norm. No one asks for it. Stop saying they do.  

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673.