Rape Culture

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.”tumblr_n6jiw3akuo1tpw6nuo1_500 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.
Blue Blanket
by Andrea Gibson

 

Final Reading Evaluation

At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, my junior year in high school my English teacher asked us to create a goal of how many books we’d read this school year. Having been a mild reader, someone who stuck to more young adult novels rather than those that could potentially alter my intelligence I choose to set a goal of approximately 11 books this school year.

  • Oxygen by Andrew Miller
  • Some of The Catcher in the Rye (I couldn’t finish it, I felt like all Salinger did was constantly nag)
  • The Bell Jar
  • Feed Me
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Dead End by Jason Myers
  • Plainsong  by Kent Haruf
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • The Abundance of Katherine’s
  • Exit Here by Jason Myers
  • Pretty Little Mistakes

These books all had their own challenges whether it be because of the intense vocabulary, which was often the problem or my attention just not being dedicated, like in certain books such as Oxygen, I struggled to make myself finish the book. But I stuck by it’s side and I’m proud to say it’s been the toughest book I’ve read yet, considering the four different story lines that don’t correlate together in common ways- it requires a LOT of attention.

But the book I enjoyed reading the most was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I think it’s enough to say that I was shocked when I found out it wasn’t young adult fiction. I read the book so easily and I guess that finding out that information showed me the progress and growth that I’ve made as a reader. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was an incredible book, full of imagery, and plot twists, personification, and character structure. Lets just say the movie does NOT do the book justice.

There was two books that I dropped like a hot tamale. I’m not too sure what it was about The Catcher in the Rye but I couldn’t finish that book for the life of me, despite being past half the way through. Maybe it was the long introduction that I didn’t see going anywhere, or the constant nagging from Salinger, whatever it was I do not want to read that book ever. Which is unfortunate because all the publicity it received gave me high hopes.

Book Craft was kind of cool. It was a helpful activity in the sense that you can discuss and share ideas and talk about the different ways of understanding and interpreting books. I most enjoyed the Extremely Loud and Incredible Close book club I got to have. I socialized with a couple of people I don’t regularly but mainly because we all enjoyed the book so much it was so easy to discuss and create something for the novel. Book clubs are challenging because it requires commitment and absolute interaction, it’s useful though, because it always for added feedback.

Over all this school year of book reading has been intense. I’ve gone from books that I couldn’t bare to put down to books that I dreaded knowing it was time to read for an hour. This school year I’ve committed myself to books that I would never read again, but that I do not regret reading. I’ve learned to approach things that aren’t wanted differently, always with a blank canvas, an open minded ready to enter the mind of a different person- I’d like to think that makes me a better person.

Courage… or should I say the lack of?

You see that guy getting bullied. You see the bruises all over her body- wearing sweaters during summer to try and conceal any evidence. You see the scars on his arms, notice the way he pulls down his long sleeves as if his life depended on it. You see the young lady getting harassed; you manage to overhear her attempting to assertively tell him to leave her alone. You see someone’s life in danger. You see someone pleading for help.

No one around, at least no one with the courage to take a stand and do something, anything, about the situation. Not even ourselves.

A single step of courage could have turned the story all the way around.

No one was around for Kitty Genovese, a 28 year old bar manager who’d been on her way home one night in a semi-safe neighborhood. At least no one might as well have been around. Genovese’s screams for help weren’t enough to save her life on the night that she was murdered in New Gardens, Queens, 1964. Despite 38 citizens having been in the area of the crime- close enough to testify the attack- not a single soul had the courage to do a thing. Not even make a simple minute long call to the police. Genovese was stabbed multiple times within at least a 20 minute period, soon after stabbing her the murderer proceeded to rape her. Until she was dead.

“The most chilling part is that once she reached the back building, she was lying there for several minutes calling her help.” Genovese even managed to plead out “It’s Kitty! I’m stabbed! Help me!” but not a voice she heard, and not a single call was placed.

Now years later the question still lingers as to why on earth did not a single living capable human do a thing? Some say the psychological reason where people naturally expect someone else to react, leaving it as some one else’s job, excluding theirselves from the situation.

Despite all the possible claims that could counteract with the lack of response to the screams calling for help, where was the courage?

Fear must’ve taken control, mortified, just about all of us would naturally be. But to be courageous, you’d hope that at least 1/38 people would humanly hold some level of courage.

Courageous: what were slowly forgetting to characterize ourselves along with others as.

That frankly mortifies me.
I guess I’ll have to do something, anything, about it.

I did it to myself

You make your own choices.

Of course, we’re there the moment we decide to follow through with something, we choose, we do. It’s our actions that lead to the aftermath. We’re accountable for all that we choose to do.

Often told that the mistakes that you’ve made have been brought upon you by no one else but yourself. But how is it that those choices we make are always accompanied by someones comment, someones consent, or that look that lets us know to go forth with what we’ve chosen.

Now, I’m not saying that we’ve got our surroundings to blame, nor am I saying that you yourself are never the problem- because you are. It’s the influence. The lack of acknowledgement, the too-busy-to-think-things-through that we often to fail to process.

Process, we don’t process things. We’re accused of wrong doing, of the mistakes we make, more like the poor mistakes we made. And if it’s not you who has brought it upon yourself, it’s the media, its your parents, its the neglecting you encountered as an infant, it’s the way you were verbally abused; at the end of the day it was you.

Forget the excuses. All you’ve got to look forward to is the next day, the day you’ll choose to make your own better mistakes.

“I expect nothing, and I still get let down”

You meet someone, anyone, you don’t even have to necessarily meet them, but as soon as you know of there existence unconsciously, yet immediately all the human expectations emerge.

A simple “Hi, how are you doing?” from a stranger always comes off nice, even a simple grin of acknowledgement. Something- we expect at least something- anything.

Touching on the relationships where you actually know the person, you expect more. Despite you’re mind telling you one thing and your heart speaking to you another way. Despite how much you talk yourself out of holding anyone accountable for the simple human manners, you wait for it, look for it even. We naturally expect, we raise our hopes up high, we get excited, we wait around; as humans it’s what we do.

Even in the scenarios where you’re naturally going about doing your thing, humanity has a strange way of messing that up. Messing up the whole “I’m neutral to everything and there’s no way your actions are going to effect me” talk we give ourselves. Humanity, as it seems, attempts to over power the natural instinct that we have to depend or rely on someone. So often are we let down, time after time, trust after trust, yet we expect- even when expecting nothing, we’re let down.

Humanity has a strange way of functioning. I feel as if we’re all two people, intertwined to create an individual; two souls emerging off of one. You have a heart and a mind. And despite how much your mind says one thing, your heart demand another.

So time after time, you think you learn, that with time and experience you evolve and grow- you think you grow out of all those sentimental factors that unite to conquer your mind. But time after time, theres not a thing that changes.

Time as per usual, only conceals, and even at that it does a poor job. Because the moment a new stranger walks by, whom you acknowledge, you find yourself caught up with that little ounce of hope.

In a trap.

A trap that leads you to humanly expect, only to be let down.

I respect your opinion but you’re wrong.

Opinions- what separates an individual from another. 

Whether it be about politics, about culture, about religion, about the economy, our educational system, evolution, the creation of the world. Whether you’re against homosexuality. Whether you’re all for polygamy, right on! Or whether you’ve got nothing to say, and well in the simplest of words you just “couldn’t care less.” Whether the circumstance be this or that, what have you, person by person our opinions all differentiate one by one. An opinion followed by an opposing opinion, usually followed by an argument, facts, points being made, insults being thrown, and at the end someone leaving- in the best case scenario, slightly.. butt-hurt.

And as we see opinions change we notice reactions change. Offense is taken, people become aggressive, one attacks the other. Someone always has to be right. And as perusal with a right comes a dead wrong. Most often, whether it be the one who’s right or the one who’s wrong both opponents walk away feeling at least a bit of defensive. 

We become defensive. Defensive because at one point or another, we were looked at as dumb or stupid.
We were disrespected. 

The lack of empathy is what I’d claim to be the cause of all the chaotic nonsense that intervenes with the coexistence and unison of society. The lack of empathy so strong that lead to such malicious acts from a heartwarming rockstar- Kurt Cobain. 

As you may know, Kurt Cobain who lived from 1967 to 1994 died from suicide. None the less a letter known as his suicide letter was left behind. And in this letter you’re left to feel nothing but a broken heart that could no longer take on the cruelty that seemed all the world had to offer. A point by Cobain was made that left me speechless: “I’m grateful, but since the age of seven, I’ve become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy.” Empathy was a key component to the elements Cobain found were a necessity in the world. 

We except to see change and to evolve and to progress and prosper; all of which we hope to accomplish while holding out a arm to shake hands, for so called peace, while our other hand is placed behind us with a gun in the other in fear of rejection. 

Defense taken on to a whole different level. An aggressive action that needs to be taken the moment someone differs from our point. The moment someone says the wrong thing, or looks at you the wrong way. 

We know right from wrong we know what should be said, and the appropriate of times. As functioning humans civility begins with ourselves. 

“Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.” Despite the differences, the fact that think he should be elected and I don’t. Whether it’s that you take offense to me disregarding your concerns. 

Everything has a way that it should be approached.

Now I’m not saying that civility will take you where you need to get. Because sometimes it’s only a matter of when you can’t take the rejection anymore. But it’s a matter of progressing of moving forward, and demanding the respect that’s belongs to each individual. It’s about demanding that your opinion be respected; that your opinion doesn’t change the way people look at you, that people don’t look down on you. 

It’s about being the bigger person. 

Even when you’ve got the power to step on all the people smaller than you.

 

An Open Letter to an Author

Dear Ms. Boo

    I’ve taken my time of day to read your non-fiction, award winning book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers. First and foremost I’d like to state the fact that I’m glad I took the time to actually read your book. I enjoy reading but when it comes to book I’m specifically picky about what I read. Your book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers has marked a turning point in my reading life. Behind the Beautiful Forevers was presented to me as a challenge waiting to be overtaken. I’m usually a casual reader who doesn’t really explore more than what I’m used to. But your book has broadened my mind, spectacularly- enabling me to challenge my vocabulary and learn a lot of tips and tricks used through out the book to hopefully better myself as a writer.

    Behind the Beautiful Forevers engaged my mind in a world outside of my world- if that makes any sense? All walls have been torn down and I see the world from a different perspective. Behind the Beautiful Forevers isn’t your typical take a look at the poverty in the slums kind of book. This book is far more descriptive and written with such careful word choice that creates a powerful visualization technique. The book was written bluntly to be so affective; my absolute favorite remark being while murmuring judgement toward Fatima and called her the ”lipsticky One Leg who walked with her butt stuck out and was lately screwing a heroin-addicted road boy when her husband was at work.” Never fails to make me laugh! I’m not sure if this is brilliant or I’m just easily amused by an author who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. Maybe it’s the humor that you’ve inscribed in a book you wouldn’t expect much humor to be found. (Also being a reason I didn’t think I’d be much into this book; I beg for an author with a sense of ironical humor, or sarcasm. I can say I wasn’t disappointed.)

    With the expansion of my mind that’s resulted from Behind the Beautiful Forevers I feel different. Typically, after reading a book I feel like my life’s been changed and like I’ve just been cleansed with holy water.. but it never lasts more than a day or so- the impact. As for Behind the Beautiful Forevers, my minds been on overdrive about making a change in a sense, or maybe even as you, Ms.Boo has done, take a few years out of my comfort zone and explore the slums of India to grasp a better understanding. Such powerful characters that have been used and structured efficiently well have made a change in my mindset, as well. Abdul’s character won my heart at the end, despite how strange that is! Along with the previous topic of loving a sense of humor I found myself chuckling at Abdul’s insight of regularly bathing; or should I say the lack of, as he “found the bathing ritual not just pointless but self-deceiving.” Would it be improper of me to insert a mega “LOL” moment here? Because I really can’t help it. Not only do I see a sense of humor in this book, but the detail that goes as far as the making a reader understand a character is phenomenal. The lengths that have been taken to pursue such extravagant reader-character relationship. 

    Behind the Beautiful Forevers is definitely not a regret of a book I’ve chosen to read. Although I often felt let down at the first half of the book, because of the lack of specific plot, and diverse perspectives, it was brilliant. I’d never thought that creating such a steady setting foundation for a book could pay off. But it did in the sense that it helps you grasp on to further events that take place in the slums of Mumbai, for instance when the police station scene comes to play, had you not known much of neither the characters ways of being, or their individual culture and religious background, it would’ve all seemed like a bogus event that had no significance. Behind the Beautiful Forevers has taken a turn on the way I approach a book; now with background information and an open mind to what the rest of the outside world has got to offer.

– Melissa Ramirez