I would love not to write this post. I might write it and delete it. I am raging at yet another rape on this week’s Game of Thrones. I won’t get detailed. Suffice to say, yet again, the authors and writer of that madly over-hyped series have yet again degraded a female character, the best way they know how.
Game of Thrones is unique in it’s consistent portrayal of women as strong, fearless leaders. Yet, they are also consistently put in their place by weaker men who overpower them physically and rape them. How marvelous and entertaining! How wonderful that this show perpetuates the victimization of strong women through rape. It’s an anti-feminism sexual fantasy. This never ending glorification and acceptance of rape as entertainment has me thinking about complicity.
The Bill Cosby situation is horrible on many levels, all of them obvious. But what has bothered me most is this feeling of complicity. We must never, ever, ever blame the victim. Rape is about power, not about sex. A rape does not end when the act is complete. It never ends. Yet I found myself thinking about this vast number of women who have recently accused Bill Cosby of “allegedly violating” them. I’ve been thinking of how they remained silent until now. Are they somehow complicit? The fist victim who remained silent, maybe had some responsibility for the second victim and she for the third and so on and so forth for dozens of women. Is that complicity in a way?
And then, I had to look inward. No, I have not been raped, but I came very, very close. One breezy, moonlit summer night after high school I was walking down a beach hand in hand with a guy I had known for years. Within the blink of an eye, he tackled me, pinned me down and removed the clothing he needed to rape me. I was completely overpowered. It took me a second to clear my head – yes I had been drinking – to realize I was going to be raped.
“If you move,” I said as he pressed against me, “This is rape.” I remember his reply as clear as if it was yesterday. “I knew you’d bring that up,” he actually said. Miraculously he got off me. I was far from home, and this was years and years before cell phones. I got in a car with him and he drove me home. For the whole ride he pleaded, “Are you mad? You won’t tell anyone will you?”
Sitting here many years later, thinking about complicity, I realize that I am indeed complicit. I told no one about this incident. There was no scenario in my early twenties where I did not perceive this occurrence as all my own fault. I was drinking. It was late. We were in an isolated area. I left my friends. It was bad judgement. I was certainly asking for it, of course. This is how women were taught to think. Somehow I am responsible for a man violently trying to rape me. Every time this piece of shit “friends” me on Facebook, I “ignore” his request and marvel at the fact that he has no idea he did anything wrong. This is how men were taught to think. In my weaker moments, I allow myself to wonder if he went on to rape other women.
I don’t blog about this, but I actually have two daughters. I have never told them this story. Why have I never told them this story? I’m embarrassed? I don’t want to scare them? They should be scared. The statistics for rape are staggering. Every 107 seconds a sexual assault occurs. 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Only 2 in 100 rapists go to prison. Why? Why is that? Because we are all complicit.
My thinking that victims/survivors of rape have an obligation to protect future victims/survivors of rape was 100% incorrect. It is the rest of us who have an obligation to protect the 293,000 women (and men) who will be sexually assaulted in the next year. But many of us, actually most of us, do nothing. Maybe we RT a tweet, like a post or donate a few dollars, but we leave advocacy primarily to victims because until your clothes are ripped from your body and your are violated, who cares?
44 percent of sexual assault victims are under 18. These are our daughters. Let’s care.
Let’s consider a path to a freer discussion and consider why we make it so difficult for women to openly accuse men of rape. I’m sure I’ll get comments about those few cases where the accusations have been false. That is just an excuse, a diversion from an extraordinarily under-discussed, under-addressed issue.
One of my girls is in high school. Last week she told me in all her years of sexual education, she has been told what to wear, how to act, how to behave to avoid rape. But educators have never simply turned to the boys and said, “don’t rape.” That might be a good place to start.
We need to raise awareness for the complicity of rape. Yes – I know I am insane, but I propose a sex free Valentine’s Day in 2016. For one day of the year, no one in this country should have sex. Let’s just love each other and remember all of those who have been abused sexually. Let’s consider all we can do to support victims of sexual assault, to educate young boys on the boundaries of sex, and to stop and prosecute rapists. Talk about it and see if we can make something happen. #SexFreeVDay16
All Statistics from Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, rainn.org