Today I am launching a new section to my blog: Spencer Rants, or “SR” for short.
I am incredibly opinionated on a lot of things, but generally keep my thoughts to myself. Well, no more. I have very strong views on a lot things and it’s time for me to tell the world (or, you know, the 6 people who read my blog) about them.
Today’s topic? Sexual Assault.
There has been a lot of talk in the media over the past year of so about sexual assault. From Akin’s insane assertions that women can simply reject rape, to more in depth discussion on victim blaming, etc. And now I’ve just finished watching the phenomenal film The Invisible War and find myself in a state of pure rage.
In the film a group of women and men, all of whom were sexually assaulted while on active duty in the US military, filed a lawsuit that sought to allow them a way to seek justice outside of the military system (which was all but non-existent). The conclusion was a ruling that “rape is an occupational hazard of military service.”
If you’ll pardon my language… What the actual fuck?
An “occupational hazard”? Are we now likening being preyed upon by a serial rapists to a case of carpal tunnel syndrome? This is so far beyond disgusting that I almost have no words.
Almost. But, not quite.
There is so much that confuses me about the complete lack of understanding as to what constitutes rape, if it’s wrong, and victim blaming.
Does a basic definition not help people to understand? According to the dictionary “rape” is “unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will of a person.”
Right, so let’s break that down for those still confused: Sex + Force and/or Threat = Rape.
No? Still not there? One more…
Jack: Want to have sex?
Jack has sex with Jill.
Jack has raped Jill.
Now that we’ve covered what rape is, let’s move on to the next step: Rape is wrong. People say they know this and it’s apparently a widely understood thing. As much as I’d like to believe this to be true, the fact remains that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. That’s a lot of women who are being assaulted by a lot of men/women. So, I’m going to guess that a lot of people still don’t quite get it.
Rape is a violation that stems so far beyond anything else. As a human being you’ll spend your lifetime working, travelling, laughing, loving, living. You’ll buy things, you’ll sell things, you’ll throw things, you’ll lose things. But at the end of the day the only things that are ever truly yours- The only things with you from birth to death- Are your mind and your body. These things are yours and yours alone. During you’re life you will choose to share them with other people.
Rape is not a choice. For the rapist it is about power, so for the victim it is about loss. It is someone taking from them, by force, something they did not choose to give. It is violent, barbaric, traumatic, and something no person should ever have to experience. It is dehumanizing, yet, so very human.
Which brings me to my last point: Why after a victim has endured the trauma of rape does society then blame her/him? There is NO excuse for rape. NONE. I don’t care where they were, or what they were wearing. I don’t care about their sexual history, or how much they had to drink, or whether or not they initiated the contact. It doesn’t matter. If she/he said “no” at any point, that’s all that matters. The two parties could be through foreplay and ready for the main event- If one of them decides “no”, then it stops. End of story.
And if it doesn’t, it’s rape.
As it stands around 80% of sexual assaults go unreported. Though the reasons to vary, a significant one is the fact that victims are so often blamed for what happened to them. “She shouldn’t have worn that skirt“, “He shouldn’t have gone to that neighbourhood at night.” Or even worse, the common conclusion that she/he can’t prove it was rape, so it couldn’t have been.
The mental trauma that follows and stays with victims through the rest of their lives is worth a mention (well, much more than that, truth be told). PTSD, depression, and anxiety, can all potentially follow sexual assault. The damage to the mind can be more severe and long lasting than any physical. And some are never able to recover.
Rape is an epidemic that no one seems to give a damn about. And that’s just unacceptable to me. So, I’m speaking out. And I hope you’ll do the same.