Rape: “The crime of forcing another person to submit to sexual acts, especially sexual intercourse.” You type the word “rape” into google and millions of links appear such as “was I raped,” “who are the victims,” “the war on rape,” and more than anything you’ll see the latest news article informing you of who has been raped, how, why, and its cause- all sorts of gathered information. You turn your television on everyday at the same time to watch the latest news on what our world’s evolving into. Another person has been raped, you see tears running down their loved ones faces, after all it’s all that’s left, the only rape stories that make it far enough to be announced on a newscast involve murder or some sort of heavier torturous ending. You’re left to see the victims siblings lost, wondering what they can do to make anything any better, and yet again an idea is presented to the viewer as a leading so called known cause to such a traumatic event. All sorts of fingers being pointed in thousands of directions, all of the possibilities of who to fault. It could have been her parents fault: Why in the world would you let your daughter stay out any later than the split second you begin seeing the sunset and the dark night come to conquer? Everybody knows this world we live in isn’t a safe place for a person to roam the streets. And the clothes she was wearing! What in the world was the poor child thinking, wearing such provocative clothing? Wrong. Rape: an agonizing, torturous, self loathing crime forced upon a person against their will. A crime in which the victim becomes the criminal who as per-usual, must have been “asking for it.”
Just a few months ago I was sitting in my History classroom when the topic of an agonizing, life ruining crime that involving the topic of rape, struck up. We’d been discussing women’s rights. As with any topic that’s got to do with sexism and justice, one opinion lead to another until I found myself suffocating in the opinions that were rapidly pouring out of the mouths of my classmates. I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of the mouths of the people I go to school with, people just like me, but nothing like me at all. I felt such an overwhelming amount of shame and embarrassment as I felt attacked by the opinions being proclaimed, but most importantly by the lack of both knowledge and logic being used to back up the opinions directed to a highly problematic subject. My attention was indifferent due to such disbelief in the levels of ignorance; until I could take no more as I heard a guy make a smart-ass comment on what another classmate had brought up for discussion with the class. It was all about an online post about a young girl in approximately our age group. She had accused a well known person around the school of having physically abused and raped her. Having experienced such a traumatic event in her life and being one of the few lucky people who received both mental and emotional help from a therapist, and being surrounded by people who love and care for her, she had decided to share her story. She spoke out with the intentions of raising awareness against rape culture and informing people of the harm that’s actually affecting victims because of such incidents. Students angrily asserted their thought and feelings, they accused the student who’d spoken out using words such as “oh well she’s just looking for attention”, or “she was probably dressed like a slut,” and even “she was asking for it though, she’d been talking to him, they were basically together so he had every right,” proclaimed egotistically another student. What provoked my infuriation is simply the reasonable question that didn’t seem to cross a single person’s mind: Who’s to say that a women dressed “provocatively” is asking to be raped? What I mean is, no one goes to their favorite store searching for pieces of clothing that are more revealing than the rest thinking Oh god i hope this makes him/her want to rape me! And god forbid the young girl take any form of interest in a guy, much less have her like him or be bantering and friendly towards him. My question is, why is that we, all of us, should have to withstand dressing a certain way, contain ourselves from drinking too much, hold back a laugh or a friendly gesture, or take precaution from walking down the wrong neighborhood? Why must there be tips on how to avoid rape? Why do we insist on teaching our generation how not to get raped, rather than teaching respect and morals and simply not to rape?!
So lets say it’s time for an modern day enlightenment revolution. I stumbled upon an image on the internet where a woman appears topless with tape over her nipples and on her stomach it read “Still not asking for it!” and underneath was a comment that read, “but then again it’s like putting a meat suit on and telling a shark not to eat you.” And that’s exactly where the problem is, most of our generation seems to believe our intelligence compares to that of an animal. The simple act of comparing the craving and desire of human flesh that triggers sharks into such condescending act to murder should not be compared, literally, to the desires of a human. We’re wrong in the sense that sharks, unlike humans, feed off of their prey. Sharks attack their prey, a prey that’s made up of a completely different species; whereas us humans all coexist into creating the same unison of creatures. We are not sharks, the slightest scent of blood does not arouse us, we aren’t triggered at the sight of bare human flesh. Just because a person is naked in front of you does not mean you’re entitled to do anything to their body without her endorsement. We’re gifted with the ability to empathize those who are like us, and it’s a crime to take such reward and manipulate it as far as to demolish what one has the right as a human being to dictate and control. No one is entitled to someone else’s body just because it’s exposed. No one is entitled to anyone body but their own, unless stated otherwise. What is it that we find so difficult about this concept? People’s minds are being caged in as if we’re zoo animals. Harsh isn’t it? To make such fanatical comparison. But what respect is to be expected from others, if we cannot respect the obvious.
So how do we expect to see a change in the rape statistics that are increasing when our own people refuse to accept that someones body is theirs and no one elses? When we reject the idea that street harassment and a girl saying “no” results in a man doing the following: “He reaches out, drags her, by her hair, into his car, chokes her until she blacks out, tosses her out of the car and then, not done yet, he runs her over several times.” (Chemaly).
When we deny the victim the right to mourn on what’s happened to them. Why do we cringe at the sight of nudity as if it were a sight of sin, why do we look at what at what we all have, and what we all desire to be respected and think that the moment something is slightly off about a person, their body is no longer aligned for respect.
Rape awareness matters. The views our people have upon this topic matters, more than anything. We have the power to teach our own kids not to rape, to respect each other because we are all our own individuals with rights that should not be violated because we unknowingly “provoked” it. The power if the mind is what drives us to make a change in the world. Starting off by talking to your own kid, and most importantly noticing and accepting that the problem is not within the people who dress provocatively, or those who aggressively protest. The problem begins when the criminal decides that they’re more powerful than another person. As people, who are all equal to one another, it is our obligation to lead each other in the path that’ll only allow us to evolve as humans. What we’re doing, by accusing victims, is only making our power as humans decline. The more people fall, the more people will rise, and those who are rising due to making other people fall, are not people who should be dominant in a world where our own civil rights give us the rights to own ourselves, the right to freedom. It cannot be that hard to comprehend such simple criteria. It should not have to be voiced out or written in a document in order for people to understand that ones body is no ones but theirs. I’d like to believe that I speak for everyone who’s ever struggled with respect from people because their skirts a little too short or they weren’t out at the right time. I’d like the believe that what I say that I want to live in a world where anyone can walk down any street looking the way they want to look, going wherever they’d like to go regardless of the time, all without an after-math of traumatizing effect. A world full of brilliant enlightened minds is a world where we have the ability and the opportunity to prosper instead of being held back and continuing to point fingers at everything except the actual problem.
by Andrea Gibson