Rape Culture Internalized

If we ask for trigger warnings, we’re too sensitive. If we don’t laugh at rape jokes, we’re too serious. If we get raped we’re either “asking for it”,  lying about it, or “lucky to get the attention”. And if we, as women, rape someone then it’s invalidated because we’re just too weak to ever rape anyone. Right?

Welcome to rape culture. The world of sick one liners and serial predators doing 6 months for violating a woman in a way that she’ll remember forever. We live in a day in age where a man can rape you behind a dumpster while you’re unconscious and instead of being described as a rapist, the media will call him “a promising athlete with a bright future”; and of course they’ll mention how that future “is ruined now”. You know whose future they didn’t mention? The fucking victim’s!

American facts are this: If you’re rich, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a celebrity, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a promising athlete, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a woman, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a husband or wife, you “can’t” be a rapist. If you’re a politician, a television star, a police officer, a judge, there’s no way you’re a rapist. If her skirt was short it wasn’t rape, if she was drunk it wasn’t rape, if she cried the whole time but didn’t say no, it wasn’t rape. If she said no halfway through, it wasn’t rape. If she comes forward after other victims have, she wasn’t raped. If she sleeps around, she can’t be raped. If he’s a boy, he can’t be raped. If you go to a prestigious school, you can’t be raped and you definitely aren’t a rapist. And as mentioned above, if she was unconscious but you’re white and privileged, it wasn’t rape. But if you’re black? Definitely rape. And no, I’m not being satirical or funny. I can show you case after case where judges, the media, and juries of our peers, treated the aforementioned statements as truth. Disgusting isn’t it?

We see it everyday and the sick part is that most of us are either numb to it or have heard it so much that we believe it. Have you ever wondered what a rape victim was wearing or how much she’d had to drink? Have you ever seen a survivor and thought she looked like “the type who would lie about it“? Do you agree that female students should be banned from wearing spaghetti straps while the quarterback is allowed to go shirtless? Do you believe that if women act in a certain way they can stop themselves from being raped? Do you think “it’s pointless” to make affirmative consent a part of our sexual education courses? Have you ever taken part in “slut shaming”?  If so then you are a part of rape culture. They fed you bullshit and you swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker. If that offends you then maybe you should ask yourself why, instead of getting offended about what a stranger said on the internet.

Why am I writing this? Let’s be honest, I’m all over the place, this isn’t my most polished piece, and the words aren’t intertwined in a powerful way that has the maximum amount of impact. But it’s important anyway. And it’s close to my heart. It is my heart because it is my story. I’ve been slut shamed and victim blamed. I’ve been cross examined in court by a man who didn’t believe me, despite the fact that I was 7 with damn near perfect recall. I’ve given depositions and I’ve had a rapist blame it on me. I’ve been objectified, sexualized, and silenced my whole fucking life. I’ve sat next to my male friends as they told rape jokes and made fun of women who require trigger warnings. I’ve had terrible things happen to me and thought “But what if no one believes me?” I’ve had my birth mother look at me and say “Well you know he only did it because of what you did”. “What I did” was nothing more than an excuse my mom’s boyfriend fed her for why he put his hands down my pants while I was sleeping. And for the record, I didn’t do “it”; a fact which I’d told her a year earlier when he’d said I had blown him and that’s what made him think it was okay. But I guess it was easier to continue to date and fuck the man if she chose not to believe me.

I’ve sat at a table of 10 women and contrary to popular statistics, listened as each one told their own sexual assault stories. Truth be told, I don’t know if I know one woman who hasn’t been sexually mistreated in one way or another; and that’s not even mentioning the countless men. And out of all of the ones I can think of, not one reported their rapist/abuser. Why is that? Mostly,they didn’t believe anyone would do anything about it and it was easier to live with without someone invalidating their trauma. Also, they didn’t want to be blamed or shamed for it. They didn’t want to be put through the judicial process all to have a judge put a 6 month sentence on their lifelong trauma. The world is a twisted place and I could go on for days but I truly don’t think that anything will change it until the people start to. And that can’t happen until we start recognizing all the ways our thinking has been slowly distorted over the years. Say these things to yourself over and over again if you have to: only rapists cause rape, men can and do get raped, a man or woman’s sexual history has nothing to do with their assaults, a rapist can be from any socioeconomic class, race, background, gender, or area; and the act of rape should offend you far more than the word itself. Do some research, educate yourself, and stop perpetuating rape culture. If you aren’t fighting against it or educating yourself about it then you just might be a part of the fucking problem.

Rape_Culture

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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Temporary 

Feelings can be a truly terrible thing. Only they are capable of making you think you’re suffocating when you’re not. That you can’t take one more step when you can. That things will never get better when in fact, they will. Our ability to feel is what makes us human; and it is what makes us volatile and unpredictable. They are why so many people stay in bad relationships out of fear, why people kill themselves, why so much damage has been caused by and to so many. They are the reason that everyone has a poison, whether it be drugs, sex, love, or any other thing that can be abused in an attempt to numb our existence just a little bit. 

They can make everything seem too loud, too big, too hard. Simply put, they’re extreme

But they are temporary. And they aren’t fact. A feeling is just your perception of any given person, situation, or circumstance; but the amount of power it holds over you depends on your state of mind for it’s survival. How you react to that is your choice. The ones who kill themselves break my heart the most. I’ve been in dark places before in my life, where I felt like suicide was the only answer. But I’m still here today. I’m here because someone told me “This too shall pass”, “Feelings aren’t facts”, and “Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens”. At the time, I didn’t believe a single fucking word of it. I had experienced so much pain in my short life that it was all just a bit too much; but their words were just enough to make me wait a few years. 

And today I am truly blessed. I have amazing friends and family. I have a beautiful daughter who fills my world with light. I have my life. The feelings are still there, sometimes they are still extreme, and some days I still feel suffocated by the weight of them. But today I recognize their impermanence; and I try to give that more weight than I give the feelings themselves. I actively practice acceptance and I make the conscious decision on a daily basis to just do the next right thing for the next right reason, regardless of how I feel at the time. I owe almost all of the love and beauty in my life to that practice. And I never would’ve learned it had I given in, let the feelings take control, and chosen a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So, if you feel like shit today, that’s okay. Own it, accept it; and know that tomorrow is another day that you don’t have to let be weighed down by the problems of tonight. 

Life is short. And too many people leave us too early. So embrace your feelings, however temporary they may be, and be fucking grateful for the fact that you’re alive to experience them…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Victim Blaming

A friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook the other day. She’s a beautiful woman with long blonde hair, an expertly done smokey eye, red lips, and a “fuck you” look on her face. She was wearing black pants, black combat boots, a black and white plaid shirt, unbuttoned and tied at her hips. Underneath her shirt she wore a bright pink bra. That sign, along with her outfit, caused so much debate. Her sign read…

“JUST BECAUSE SHE’S DRUNK DOESN’T MEAN SHE WANTS TO FUCK.”

Powerful message right? She posted it along with a little excerpt that can be surmised as saying that what she wears doesn’t dictate what someone is allowed to do to her; just as her level of intoxication doesn’t make it okay for someone to touch her. She said that she isn’t an obect and that people sexualizing women and their bodies is rape culture. She said that it needs to end now and that she feels especially strongly about the topic because she’s a rape survivor herself. I’m a survivor myself and I was moved by her message. So after asking permission, I shared her photo and the accompanying message to my own wall. I thought it could empower other women as it did me. Instead, I spent 124 comments arguing with WOMEN about the photo.

The first woman who commented said “Of course she’s blonde. Idiot.” The woman she was commenting on is a Biology major who’s currently working on her thesis. She’s fucking brilliant and yet, when she posted this empowering message, the first thing that happened was another woman putting her down for her appearance and her intelligence level. This same woman then proceeded to say that my friend shouldn’t be sharing that message while “dressed like that” and that her choosing to do it that way makes her think that she’s just “another dumb blonde looking for attention”. I pointed out how ridiculous it is to say another women is dumb because of her hair color and asked her if she was serious. She was. She continued on by saying that she thinks rape is always wrong but that if “women had handled themselves differently in certain situations then it never would’ve happened“, that “the way a woman dresses can attract the wrong attention and we’re responsible for that“, and that nowadays “a lot of women lie about being assaulted“.

I was disgusted.

It’s my opinion that this woman is rape culture internalized. It didn’t matter that when her little friend jumped in to defend her she said she wasn’t dressed “like a slut” when she was raped. It didn’t matter that none of us were. She was still convinced that the way a women dresses can cause (or stop) rape. Where’d this idea come from? Some time, long ago, some man lied and said “Well look at what she was wearing! That’s what made me do it!” And our culture along with more sick individuals took this rapist’s piss poor excuse for their illness and used it as a reason. We then internalized it, told our little girls that wearing a skirt in the city is like leaving your door unlocked at night; we tried to blame woman for the horrible things that happened to them by saying “Well maybe next time you shouldn’t wear such a short skirt.” Why do we do this? I think it’s because we’re trying to find reason for such depravity. But at what expense? So many woman, an astonishing amount, are assaulted every year and they never come forward. They stay silent, because they don’t want their characters assassinated on the stands, their sex lives picked apart, their choices put under a microscope. They are terrified of not being believed, and they should be.

There’s a term in abuse therapy called “retraumatization”. It refers to when an abuse or rape survivor goes through a stressful event after the initial trauma that causes them more stress, damage, trauma. Oftentimes, the judicial process is just this; along with the initial report, having to tell their stories over and over again, I would know, I did it at 7 years old. And even at that young age the lawyer still tried to twist my words and trip me up. I told that horrible story over and over and over again. BUT, I would never take it back because I know I stopped him from hurting anymore little girls ever again. However, that’s not the point. The point is that there are thousands of women every year who choose not to put themselves through it because we fail them everyday, and they know it. Am I the only person who sees a problem with this?! They choose this because of women like the one who commented on that post. The ones who in trying to find reason for such a terrible thing end up blaming the victim and not the fucking rapist.

As my brave friend said, “The only thing that causes rape, is a rapist.”And she couldn’t be more right.

We need to end the violence. We need to stop blaming victims. We need to break down all the misconceptions about rape. What you wear doesn’t cause rape and it isn’t “asking for it”. Being drunk isn’t an excuse for someone hurting you, being willing and then changing your mind doesn’t give them the right to keep going after you’ve rescinded your consent. All of the responsibility for sexual attacks falls on the people committing them. Period.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017