NOTE: I'm going to preface this by saying that this post is about rape (generally, not a personal experience) and something I consider very ignorant that was said about it. If that will trigger any terrible emotions for you, please don't read this because I don't want to upset you. I'm just very angry about something that was said and wanted to bring it up here, but I don't want anyone who will be really hurt by reading about the subject matter if s/he doesn't want to.
It takes a lot to get me rip-roaring mad. I tend to get annoyed, yes. I get annoyed pretty easily sometimes. But angry? Like throw something and scream at the top of my lungs angry? That emotion is usually reserved for when my mother and I have a particularly heated argument. There are certain issues that will set me off, though.
One of them? People who think rape is the fault of the victim.
There is a story to this.
In my William Faulkner class, we read Sanctuary, which is, for the purposes of understanding this post, about a girl, Temple Drake, who made a bad decision to go out with this guy when she wasn't supposed to, and ended up getting raped with a corn cob. While the plot calls into question whether Temple could have escaped this awful event, the point still stands that she was brutally violated.
When we first read this text, a girl in our class actually decided to pipe in that since Temple had decided to go out at night with this boy when she wasn't supposed to, she had it coming to her. And furthermore, that if you act or dress like you're "easy," you deserve to be raped.
The word "deserve" was used.
Of course, the class went into an uproar because this is an extremely old-fashioned, ignorant way to view sexual violence, especially coming from a woman in the 21st century.
For awhile, we forgot about it.
We read another book about Temple, Requiem for a Nun, a couple weeks ago. I was making a comment in class that I found the character development disappointing. Temple is really not a great human being and does a lot of awful things, but I felt Faulkner could have made her a really inspirational character.
I forget exactly what I said, but the girl chimed in again.
"She got what she deserved," she said. Some of the girls in class let out shocked/exasperated noises.
"No one deserves to get raped," I replied. I was extremely angry at this point. The girl tried to continue arguing for the fact that, since Temple was basically a slut, she got what she asked for.
I hate any phrase used in the context of rape that involves the words "asking for it." No one (unless you are of a select group of people who are genuinely turned on by the idea of it, and even then most women who have these sexual fantasies are more likely to role play them actually seek out assault) asks for rape. No woman hopes that a man will enter her home and force her to have sex with him. No one wants to be walking home from work and be attacked by a stranger. No woman wants the man she's dating to coerce her into a sexual situation through violence. No one wants to be abused by a relative and told to keep quiet or else.
I don't care if you skirt is too short and your top is too low. I don't care if you wiggle your hips when you walk, if you wear heels, if you flirt too much. I don't care if you enjoy sleeping with as many men as possible because that's what pleases you.
No one deserves to be raped. No one is asking for it. If it happened to you, to anyone you know, I know it wasn't your fault. I don't believe it is ever the victim's "fault."
One can argue that you shouldn't walk around looking provocative or that you shouldn't get drunk at parties, and while I realize there are without a doubt times and places where you shouldn't do certain things, where you should be extra careful, rape should not have to be a consequence of a bad decision. No one should have to fear that what they say or do will result in being violated by another human being.
No matter what you did to "ask for it," no one should have given it to you.
I am too frustrated to put everything I feel about this into words. The very idea that anyone feels this way, would blame a person (fictional or not) for this, makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me wonder what the parents must have taught. I know I was taught that my breasts made me a prime target, that I should conceal them because showing them would be, essentially, asking for it. And on one hand, I have to say that there is some sad truth in there, but there shouldn't be. If I want to walk around in my bra, no one should rape me because that's just not okay. It's not okay no matter what, despite whatever rules of proper decorum exist. It makes me sick and sad to wonder what would happen to the girl in class if she were raped, what she would feel about herself, how she would question her own culpability in such a horrendous situation. And would she believe rape victims are "asking for it" then?
I guess what I wanted to do was just say I don't think any of you who may have been through an awful experience like this are to blame. No matter what you may have done "wrong," no one should have felt s/he had the right to take advantage of you.