SR Volume 1: Sexual Assault

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?
Jill: No.
Jack has sex with Jill.
Jack has raped Jill.

Clear? Good.

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.

Choose.

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.

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5 Replies to “SR Volume 1: Sexual Assault”

  1. The problem is that we live in a rape culture. I mean, at least in America. In Canada/UK it might be different. But the way our society treats sex is, I believe, at the backbone of the sexual assault problem.

    I think most people don’t know what healthy sex looks like. I think there’s a problem when I can turn to a crime show on CBS and see a man get drowned in bleach or be skinned, but I can’t watch a realistic/non-pornographic love scene take place between my favorite characters on my favorite show because, ew, sex is gross and violence is KING.

    Because we don’t talk about sex in a productive way, the fact of the matter is that boys (because it’s usually men) don’t grow up understanding boundaries and girls don’t grow up understanding what they should/shouldn’t and can/can’t expect. I would argue that the shitstorm about Akin last year was actually helpful and as disgusting as I find it, the shit storm around the Steubenville rape and the media’s perpetrator-sympathetic handling of it can also be productive. But we’re prudes with short memories in this place and you can’t change an entire culture over night.

  2. Oh my word. This post was like medicine. Thank you thank you. It has taken me so so long to feel it’s safe to talk about what happened to me – mainly because of the effect the talking and connecting to it had on me physiologically. But just recently I feel an increasing need, and ability, to share and begin to speak up about it. Not the details – fuck, I don’t feel the need to share that again – but the feelings. The terror. The isolation. The helplessness. And just the fact it happened. I was sexually assaulted whilst travelling solo two and a half years ago. I remember thinking ‘well, it wasn’t worse case scenario so it’s not that bad, right?’ Wrong. As in, I didn’t talk about it or share it apart from with a couple of people around me because I just thought it wasn’t that bad…then, when I shared it with a therapist a year and a half later, she told me what it was! It’s the feeling that I could have died, that I had my ability to react or do anything ripped away from me. The grossness and the helplessness is what stayed with me. But I just got on with life…until I came crumbling down a year and a half later (hello, therapy).

    Keep ranting, keep sharing. It’s got healing written all over it – for all of us! Really means the world to begin to feel part of this big worldwide group of women who had this awful shit go down, but who are united in talking and telling the world their story in order to heal.

    Big love. X

    1. Please accept my apologies for taking SO long to reply to your comment. Life has been a bit hectic this past month!

      Thank you for your kind words. They meant so much. Your blog is beautiful and I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you commented, and led me to it. I’ve been reading it when I can over the past month, and am finally properly logged in to hit the Follow button.

      I wish you all the best in your journey, and can’t say enough how brave I think you are for sharing it with the world.

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