Thanks to disgusting and/or ignorant people like the Steubenville rapists, their enablers, Todd Akin, teems of moronic internet commenters, over 20 senators voting against VAWA, and a tragically tone deaf and clueless media, we are at a specific moment in this country where we’re talking about rape. Let’s not let that pass.
The most insidious cruelty of rape is that still, in 2013, if you are the victim of a sexual assault, you carry a stigma. Too often you have to prove that no, you did not do anything to deserve it and no, you didn’t just “change your mind” after and no, men are not entitled to a women’s body just because. And if you don’t think that those are actual things that people believe well, then, you aren’t paying attention. Because those are exactly the sort of things that people have said in the aftermath of Steubenville.
People do not want to talk about rape. People want to pretend it isn’t a massive issue, a monstrous thing that happens over and over and over. But it is. And only by continuing the conversation loudly and constantly, can we fix that. And not by worrying about what might have become of the talents of the rapists had this thing not “happened to them.” But rather by focusing on the scorched earth damage to the victims and the nauseating response from apologists and flat out misogynists who would rather give an attacker the benefit of the doubt than admit we have a problem.
It is important not to let this moment fade, to keep the light shined on these issues. Without it, boys will keep being taught that it’s ok as long as coach can cover it up and that girls are teases who don’t know what they REALLY want. And it’ll keep happening over and over and over.
I suspect most rapists do not think of themselves as rapists. And that’s because we let them.
Getting people to talk about rape and to teach their sons about basic human decency and empathy is only going to happen when we reveal how real a horror it is in too many people’s lives. We have an opportunity now to make something good. We have to find something of worth in what these women and girls go through, and the conversation is, hopefully the start of it.
(PS: I wrote this quickly and because I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last few months. Thanks to CNN for pushing me over the edge into outright fury and depression with their reprehensible reporting. I will return to posting self-promoting videos and songs featuring at least two guitarists momentarily.)