Four letters. One syllable. Ten thousand different ways people define it.
The word “rape” does have one, concrete legal definition. However, the controversy continues. Was it actually consensual? Does she feel violated? Should alcohol consumption be taken into account? The questions only continue from there. But what it actually comes down to is that neither you, nor I knows what actually happened in the bedroom that night.
This post isn’t going to attempt to define rape.
Here is a little bit about myself:
I believe in the power of women. I believe in the idea of a woman being able to express how she feels without the fear of rejection or ridicule from society. I believe that a woman shouldn’t be afraid to speak up about something that she feels passionate about. I believe that a woman should be able to carry a mattress around campus to stick up for something she believes in.
I am not sure where I fall in the feminist spectrum. I enjoy the idea of equality but I also enjoy guys buying me drinks at the bar. I read Barstool Sports almost daily and scroll past the “Guess That Ass” section without feeling any sense of anger. I believe that the way the media portrays a “beautiful woman” is rather shallow, but here I am using Tinder. Emma Watson’s speech to the UN gave me the chills, but I can’t say I have enough passion to get up on a podium and preach those things myself.
I could sit here and pull up various articles about controversial rape incidents that have occurred recently and attempt to convince you one way or the other. But, like I said before:
This post isn’t going to attempt to define rape.
However, what it is going to do is tell you to stop defining how the victim feels. And yes, even if she wasn’t raped by legal definition, she’s still a victim. Hundreds of sexual assault cases go unnoticed because women are simply afraid. Afraid to admit they felt uncomfortable, afraid to admit they felt violated.
Stop the slut shaming. Stop the feminist attacks. Stop attempting to define how the victim feels.
She was drunk? Maybe she should have had more self control.
She had a boyfriend? She just wants an excuse to be a slut and get away with it.
She makes her story public because wants to make a statement? She’s an obnoxious feminist.
Here’s a thought: Why don’t you stop being so ignorant? Why don’t you think of some way to constructively criticize rather than bashing her for simply practicing her human rights? You don’t like what she said? Form your own protest. A protest that is free of hate, free of name-calling, free of slut shaming. Is the victim personally attacking you? No. So why do you feel the need to personally attack her?
I wasn’t going to dive into my own personal story, but the more I write the more I find it necessary.
When I studied abroad last semester, we went on a weekend trip to the Cedarbergs, which is about 3 hours from Cape Town. The Cedarberg is an extremely remote area and there are 2 bars located on either end of the main road, packed with locals. This one particular club we were at, myself and my two Norwegian friends were the minorities. We stood out from the crowd, but we were OK with it, we were having a blast. Everybody was welcoming and made us feel included. This one particular man kept coming up to me and trying to dance with me, each time I politely declined. Each time his attempt was a bit more aggressive, and I started getting a bit uncomfortable but I felt relatively safe because everyone else seemed to “protective” of us because we were the minority.
I then felt a pull on my arm. I tried to pull my arm away but this person had a particularly tight grip on me. He pulled me away from my newfound friends and I turned around, and it was the man who kept trying to dance with me. I looked at him, and he had a violent stare in his eye. He continued to grip my arm, squeezing tighter with every second that passed. He said “Dance with me.” I declined, again, this time with a whimper in my voice, simply because I felt afraid. He then got close to my face and whispered loudly in my ear. He began to go into explicit detail about what he was going to do if I didn’t kiss him. He went into detail about how he was going to rape me. Enough detail that it made feel like I was actually raped.
I started crying and pushed him away, quickly finding my roommates and we left.
I’m not sure why I was the target for this man. Perhaps it was because I was the vulnerable girl in a room full of local people. I had no real connection in that area, so if he were to do something to me, it would’ve gone unnoticed.
This story has nothing to do with race. This story has nothing to do with attempting to define what rape means. This man didn’t rape me by “legal definition.” But I still had nightmares. I still felt violated. I still felt like I had been raped.
Does that make me a slut? Does that make me an obnoxious feminist? Does that make me stupid for having a few drinks in me?
People are sexually harassed all of the time, both men and women. We are told the lines of “consent” are blurry and hard to define. I would have to disagree with this statement. I had a conversation with my guy friend about this and he brought up how easily a girl can turn around and say she was raped because she had drunkenly had a one night stand with a guy, ultimately destroying the man’s reputation. Maybe she didn’t say “no” and maybe she said “yes.” However, if you are that worried about the word “rape,” the simple solution is not engaging in sexual activity at all.
Call me a feminist, call me anything you’d like. But, do me a favor, and don’t define how I feel about my story. Don’t blame me for putting myself in a sketchy situation. Don’t blame me for having a few drinks in me. Don’t attempt to make me afraid to speak up for what I believe in simply because you think you are all-knowing.
Maybe I’m not carrying a mattress around to prove my point. Maybe I’m not starting a silent protest with picket signs. But I am posting it on my public blog. I am making a public statement about it. I am making a public statement about it simply because I can. Simply because I want to send a message out to all women or men who have felt victimized. I am not doing it “for attention” or because “I hate men.” I am not doing it to get a rise out of you. I am not doing it because I enjoy talking about it. I am doing it because I can. I am doing it because I know the only person that I should fear in this situation, is the man who spoke to me that night. I shouldn’t fear what you have to say or what you may think of me.
My inspiration for this post came from a comment on an article about a woman carrying around the mattress she was raped on around campus to make a statement. The comment read, “People who were actually abused or raped never make it public.” Well, in my humble opinion, I think you’re an idiot. Writing a blog post on my previous abusive relationship was the best thing I could have done for myself and for other people. I didn’t write it for attention, and I am not writing this one for attention either. I’m writing it because I’ve found the strength to make a statement about it. A statement I know that will touch the hearts of many. So, while you’re sitting behind your computer writing anonymous comments bashing people who make their rape stories public, I’m sitting here writing about my story that will help people rather than make them feel like a drunken feminist slut. Maybe I wasn’t raped, but I was certainly violated.
Don’t tell me how I feel. Don’t label me. Don’t attempt to recreate the story in your head. You weren’t there. I was.
Editors note: I am not trying to desensitize what it feels to actually be raped. I don’t know what it feels like to be violently assaulted in that way. I had one reader comment that I felt what I “thought” it would feel to be raped. He or she is right. I have someone very near and dear to my heart who has been raped and I will never know the horror of what she has been through. However, my point was to take the slut shaming and negative feminist views out of the rape question all together. People shouldn’t feel ashamed of how they feel and they certainly shouldn’t allow other people to define how they feel. Not just in rape cases, but in every sexual assault case.