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Monday, February 22, 2016

An Open Letter to America Regarding Rape Culture

Let me be clear, right from the get-go - this is a humor blog, but this post is not going to be funny.

This entire subject is far from f*cking funny.

I just recently heard about Kesha's lawsuit against her agent, alleging rape, verbal, mental, emotional abuse, and a whole slew of other accusations.  Let's pretend for a minute that it isn't already bullsh*t that, after being smacked in the face relentlessly with Bill Cosby's accusations of rape, Kesha's situation has barely surfaced in my news feeds. 

I don't want to pull the race card here, I really don't - but how is it that Cosby's entire career has been shredded just on the basis of accusations - and I'll grant you, there are a lot of them - but Kesha's rich, white manager hasn't solicited so much as a second look, despite the clear look of devastation on Kesha's face when she was told that she'd have to uphold her end of her contract despite everything she alleges?

No, let's take a step back from that even, to the comments that have been thrown around.  Just like every other case of a woman stepping forward with accusations of rape or sexual assault, cue the slut-shaming.

Why didn't she report anything until now?  But, oh my God, look how she dresses!  Look how she presents herself!  She's probably slept with X amount of people - 


This is not the face of a spoiled little rich girl who didn't get her way.  This is anguish.  This is the face of someone far too many of us can relate to, yet too many others have no shame in mocking.

Let me make this perfectly clear, and I'm not even specifically talking about Kesha anymore:  a woman could WILLINGLY hop on every sausage train that passes her way, but the second she says "no" and is forced into an act she is not WILLING to do, IT IS RAPE.  The second she becomes too inebriated or otherwise influenced to a point of not being totally cognizant of what's going on, IT IS RAPE. It doesn't matter if she initiated the act, when she says "no," that's the end of it.  No coercion, no guilt trips, no forceful continuance.  End of story.

"But, she's asking for it with the way she dresses."  NO.  If a man isn't in control of himself enough to admire the female form and then get on with his life, that's HIS fault, NOT HERS.  If a man doesn't understand the clear line between consent and force, that is HIS fault, NOT HERS.  It's true the other way around, as well - a man should be able to walk around wearing whatever the hell he damn well pleases without having to worry about being mauled and mounted, dehumanized and made to feel like a slab of beef.  It doesn't matter if someone dresses for attention - again, HUGE difference between attention and rape.  

I'm not man-hating here, I promise.  I know that there are plenty of females out there willing to throw out the "rape" card just because they didn't get their way - and believe me when I say that those women deserve their lives to be ripped apart in all the ways they just attempted to rip apart an innocent man's.  The way that they've just made it that much harder for someone who really has been victimized to get help.  

I also know that there are plenty of men out there who are total gentlemen and have pride in the respect they show women, men who never step out of line and still get the haughty responses to genuine compliments or the dirty looks for simply existing and possessing a penis.  

Also - can we please acknowledge the fact that men can be victims of rape as well?

People - let me put it to you this way:

Before you start shouting about "the way she dresses" and "what a ho, she probably deserved it," put your mother in that woman's place.  Your sister.  Your daughter.  Your wife.  Really stop and think, maybe even ask the women in your life the kind of crap they have to put up with as women, even if they're total saints and dress in the most modest ways imaginable.

Because it doesn't matter if she's in the nude or wearing a Hazmat suit - if men can tell she's a female, she's going to get hit on.  She's going to elicit hoots and hollers whether she's "asking for the attention" or not.  She's going to be treated as though she's stupid and inferior, and it won't matter what job she has, what her IQ is, whether she's married and faithful, whether she's an amazing mother or sister or friend, what kind of real beauty or talent she possesses - what she's like as a human being in general - all that's going to matter is how she fills out her clothes and whether someone thinks they have "a chance" with her or not.

And rape, friends, isn't exclusive to "loose" women, either.  Even if it was, we should still be rallying for that woman, not against her.  It isn't exclusive to just women, for that matter, or even to adults.  It has no preference for color or lifestyle or religious affiliation.  It can happen to ANYBODY.

And as far as reporting it?  Again, let me clarify this for you.  If you've never been a victim of rape, you have no way of understanding the psychological damage that happens as a result.  That's not even taking into account if the perpetrator was someone you know, in which case, there are a whole bunch of other issues that crop up.

Do you know what a rape kit is?  I can't even deal with going into all of the details here, so check out this link to find out what someone has to go through after reporting a rape.  

Then comes a forensic interview, in which a person has to recount, in as much detail as possible, the exact events of what just happened to a complete stranger.  Keep in mind that this will be the first of at least dozens of times that a victim will have to recount their own horrors to complete strangers, including doctors, police, lawyers - and eventually, in court in front of their own rapist.

For children, and even many adults, it's likely that the rapist threatened physical harm to them and/or their families if they spoke up.   Imagine how horrifying that must be, to be told by someone who just literally ripped your own power away to tell you that they would do the same again, or to the people you love.  

Often, you're told that no one would believe you anyway.  Take a look just at some of the message boards online, and you'll see how easy that one is to believe.

So, like in Kesha's case - you step forward, bring it all to light, only to be sent back to the very person who did it in the first place.  Now you face the humiliation of telling everyone what happened - repeatedly, plus the whole thing being thrown back into your face by your abuser, plus facing even harsher abuse because you dared to speak up.  And then, what are the odds of being able to step forward a second, or third time, after that?  Who's going to help you after you've been basically called a liar and thrown back into Hell by the very people who were supposed to help you?**

But that's all so easy, right?

And that, friends, is only the first step in a lifetime of healing.  But let me tell you, that first step is almost impossible to take alone, and it's even more impossible when you're being kicked in the gut every time you try to take it.

America - STOP.  Stop shaming the victim and start punishing the perpetrators.  Stop making excuses and start educating our children to respect each other and each person's rights to their own bodies.

Bottom line, THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR RAPE, no matter what you want to call it.

**If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault, please reach out.  There are people and agencies out there who can help you - you DO NOT have to go through this alone, no matter what you may think or what anyone has told you.

National Sexual Assault Hotline  1.800.656.4673
National Sexual Violence Resource CenterNational Organization for Victim AssistanceNational Online Resource Center on Violence Against WomenMore Resources

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