Triggery post - you've been warned

Trigger warning: I am going to write about rape.  This is a subject that can be triggering for many, and since 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, it's a good bet some of you are included in that number.  Thus, the warning.  You can leave now.

For the ones who stayed, just know, I'm pissed.

I try to avoid television news.  Because of that, I'm often behind on big news stories.  I do this on purpose because bad news depresses me (for real, not just "makes me sad".)  There are so many horrible things, and it seems the more horrible, the more press it gets.  It's gone beyond, "if it bleeds, it leads."  It's now, "if it bleeds, make sure and get a close up and then beat it over the head a few times and then dissect it."

Still, even in my TV news-free bubble, I heard about the Stuebenville rape trial outcome and the horrendous media coverage

I have been angry and stewing over this and have decided that this. needs. to. stop. right. fucking. now.  And I mean rape culture.  Yes, sexual assault and rape needs to stop, but until we address the rape culture in our country, in our world, that is not going to happen. 

Tired of hearing about rape culture? Too damn bad.

Wikipedia defines rape culture as "a concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.  Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape."  I know that WikiKnowledge isn't necessarily the best source but I think they nailed it this time.  This is exactly what. we. do. as a society.  We blame the victim.  We question their credibility.  We ask the victim what they did to make this happen to them.  And we do all of this before we even look at the perpetrators.  How many of these excuses for sexual assault have you heard (for real):
  • She was drunk
  • She slept around, what's one more guy
  • He's her husband
  • He couldn't have, that's his nephew
  • She's just saying that to get attention
  • What was she wearing? Well then, what did she expect.
  • I just can't imagine that from him.
  • Why would she say that about him
No wonder most people don't report sexual assault crimes.

And what else do you hear? You hear about how we need to have guns. One person recently was saying about how "democrats want a woman to have a whistle to stop rape, what she needs is a gun!"  No matter what you are telling someone about stopping a rape happening to them, you have it backwards.  In doing that, you are telling the victim how to change their behavior in order to stop being violated.  Stop it, just stop. 

"Then what do we do?", you say.

Teach your boys! I'm not picking on boys, 99% of sexual assaults are by males. Don't just assume that they know not to rape.  Do they know what rape is? Because " who committed rape, 84% said that what they did was definitely not rape." (Warsaw, R. I Never Called it Rape. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.)  So yes, they need to be told.

Talk to your kids about consent.  What does consent look like? Feel like? Sound like? Do they know that someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot give consent? Do they know that a coerced "yes" is a "no?" Do they know that saying nothing means no just as much as the word no? You know what else means no? "Maybe," "I'm not sure," "Umm," pretty much everything except an enthusiastic "yes."

Keep teaching.  Do they know about sexual harassment? Since 83% of girls and 79% of boys report having experienced sexual harassment, they should damn well know what it is.

And. Don't. Stop. There! Teach your kids, boys and girls, what to do when they see someone being sexually assaulted or harassed.  Make sure they are bold enough to step in and help, or at the very least, tell someone or dial 911. 

Don't let a victim be blamed in your presence. Speak up.

And then tell them about love.  They need to know that with consent, in the right circumstances, that making love is a wonderful thing.  Don't let them only hear the bad side of sexuality because you know what, most if it is GOOD.  They shouldn't be afraid to love.  Some day, some time, they will have a beautiful, loving relationship.  That is what we hope for our kids, right?

Let's try and make sure that beautiful loving relationship is what happens for everyone's kids.  Don't be afraid, just talk to them.


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