Liora has beautifully put into words something that, because of my anger, I cannot. I thank god for people like her.
*Liora would like to recognize that people of all gender and sexual identities are raped. this article was written primarily in response to the Steubenville trial and her personal experience, which is why the victim is gendered female and the rapist gendered male*
Women fear rape.
In fact, women fear rape so much that on average most women take at least 25 steps a day to prevent themselves from being raped (there are even wiki articles devoted to it) We live in a world of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The “cure,” in this case, of course, is living with the trauma and repercussions of rape for the rest of our lives.
Many of us will be raped. Most of us who are raped will be raped by someone known to us and trusted by us. Boyfriends, bosses, friends, friends of friends, and yes, popular, well-adjusted athletes with promising futures. These rapes happen at work, at home, at parties, in classrooms, and any other location you can probably conceivably think of. Even with these facts (1 and 2) , we are still taught to believe that we have a higher chance of being raped in a dark alley by a strange man who we don’t know then by people who we believe we can trust.
This pervasive myth is so entrenched in the way that society approaches the subject of rape that it immediately directs the focus away from the rape itself - the violence and psychology of control, etc - and onto “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We do not want to be this victim. We are so horrified and so frightened that we would rather place the blame on her. We want to believe that we can will ourselves not to be raped. That we can out-think the statistics. That by some magical combination of never doing what we are “not supposed to do,” and knowing “what we are supposed to do,” we cannot end up like her. That because we are so careful, and know all the rules, this can’t happen to us. We are desperate to "other". We do not want to believe that this will happen to 1 in 4 of us regardless of the actions we take. We want to believe that we are above the statistics.
There are, of course, other factors. Patriarchy, rape culture, slut shaming, pure ignorance, disbelief, denial, puritanical culture, and sexism all play a major role in how we as a culture handle ourselves in the aftermath of rape. But this fear does too. We see it on social media, television, and articles. Nothing enrages me more than women saying that other women asked to be raped. I personally find it impossible to ignore, and I know others do too.
We torture ourselves by reading it, and try to make a difference by responding to it, writing articles, making video responses, and sharing, sharing, sharing. Though if fear, instilled in us by an omnipresent myth that is pushed on us day in and day out, is the cause - what is the cure?
We as individuals can only do so much by ourselves, but even those small things add up to big results. Educate your friends and family on the truth about rape. Do not accept excuses like, “boys will be boys,” or “an ounce of prevention.” Work to promote safety in your community. Volunteer at a rape crisis center. Listen to a friend who confides in you. Reach out to news sources that promote rape culture and let them know what you think (looking at you, CNN). Promote “yes means yes” instead of mutely accepting “she was asking for it.”
We all have the power to be catalysts for change. We have the tools. We have the know how. We can do it.
Thank you Liora. This isn't over. I would reccomend watching this video or this video, and if you have a strong stomach you can watch footage from one of the parties where the teenagers make fun of the victim.