Monthly Archives: June 2014

Women, Mothers, Daughters

I’m a sensitive person and at the moment, also an upset one.

Until not too long ago, the term “rape culture” was not in my vocabulary.  When I first saw it, I freaked out at the very thought of the words being put together and being okay that way.  Rape culture?  As in a place where it’s okay??  So I read on about this appalling t0pic.  For those who don’t know, here is the definition:

Rape culture is a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape.

Do we have a rape culture in our country?  Let’s think about that for a moment.  When a female dresses in an itty bitty skirt,  cleavage spilling over her top, and puts on excessive amounts of makeup, most people think “slut.” Some people may even think she is dressed that way and “asking for trouble.” Throw in a bar and a few drinks and a few unsavory characters.  Then she is really asking for trouble.  And if, God forbids, she is followed and attacked, how many people would say that the assault was her fault because she was a) dressed provocatively and b) drinking.  That is what “rape culture” is.  We minimize the crime committed because of the behavior of the woman.

People are having sex a LOT.  And with more than one person.  That has just become the norm.  We don’t blink an eye at the strip club billboards, or the scantily clad women in music videos, movies, advertisements, and walking down the street.  By the time Americans have reached the age of 21, 85% have had sex.  For men, the average number of partners is 6.8.  For women, the average number of partners is 3.7.  So with all that sex going around, of course sex is normal!  It’s what everyone is doing, thinking, seeing, and hearing about.  Even if a person is not engaging in sexual activity, they are being exposed to it through the media, their friends, etc.  Sex is EVERYWHERE.

But what about rape?  There are many forms of that, too.  It is a heinous crime, no matter how it occurs.  When we hear of it happening to a child, we want the maximum punishment the law can hand down, and rightly so.  But what about the young girl who goes to a party, gets drunk, passes out, and is then violated by her classmates?  Some of us may say, “well, she should not have been drinking underage and at a party where drinking was going on, but it’s still sad what happened to her…” WAIT.  WHAT?!  Did we just make an excuse for the crime?  YES!  How can we do that? What if it was your daughter?  Would you say, “I’m sorry you were raped, sweetheart, but you should not have gone to that party.”  NO!

Of course, I believe in cause and effect in even the most basic scenarios.  For example:  I was mugged on 1st Street because I went down 1st Street and someone was there looking for someone to mug and that someone happened to be me.  Does that put me at fault?  No.  The crime was the mugging and the criminal the mugger.

So why am I upset about this at the moment?

FaceBook (I hate FaceBook more often than not, but that’s not the point).  Someone posted something about not “slut shamming” but that the drunk girl who was abducted by an Uber driver should have been more careful.  Seems harmless, I guess.  But I’m sensitive.  And I’ve got “experience,” so to speak.  So I got upset and said something about rape culture and that no matter how it happens, it is always wrong.  People translated this to mean that I must not think girls should be cautious and not put themselves in predicaments that could lead to rape or sexual assault.  Let me be clear: GIRLS  SHOULD NOT PUT THEMSELVES IN SITUATIONS WHERE BAD THINGS CAN HAPPEN. Now that I got that out loud and clear, let me be clear about another thing: Rape is WRONG, REGARDLESS of the girl, the situation, etc.  And to excuse it in ANY way is feeding into our rape culture (that people on the thread don’t think we have).

When I was 4 years old, I was sexually assaulted by a 16 year old boy.  He was the son of a friend of my parents. 

However, when I was a teenager, I struggled with this greatly.  I wasn’t sure who was in the wrong.  I thought something was wrong with me.  After awhile, I began to dress provocatively and hang out with people that my parents did not want me around.  I did things my parents did not want me doing.  And guess what?  More bad things happened to me.  It was almost as if I was testing my subconscious theories that I deserved these things.  I’m sure many adults at the time thought I was a bad girl and if they knew what happened, they might have said I had it coming, too.

A few years ago, I was driving several hours home and it was already late at night.  My four (at the time) kids slept peacefully in the back.  My phone was almost dead, so I stopped to buy a car charger at a Pilot station.  I bought one, went back out to the car, and discovered it was only an adapter.  So I went back in to the store.  As I was looking at the various chargers, a man came up behind me and offered to help.  He walked me to the counter, I paid, and then he walked me to my car so I could make sure it worked this time.  I was not being very smart.  It was late.  It was dark.  I was alone and a man was now following me to my car to see if the charger would work and I was letting him.  But that was not what I was thinking at the moment.  He was just being nice and trying to help.  As I leaned in the car to plug it in, he pushed himself on me.  I won’t go into detail… skip forward a bit to where I finally was able to get him enough out of the way that I could slam my door shut and speed off.  I went into a panic.  I called first my priest and screamed into the phone what happened, followed by, “Why would someone do this?!  Why does this happen to ME?”  He urged me to pull over.  I hung up and kept driving… faster and faster.  Pulling over was the LAST thing I wanted to do.  I tried to call my dad a few times.  No answer.  I called a friend.  But I did not call my husband.  WHY?  I was actually afraid he would be mad at me because, after all, I was so stupid for putting myself in that situation that what happened was my fault (rape culture mentality).

I read a story about a girl named Audrie Pott.  She was a beautiful girl who found herself at a party, was raped by three classmates, and then bullied horrifically afterwards.  It led to her eventual suicide.  I was heart broken and devastated to read her story, and a few more like it.  I have only one daughter, and I cannot imagine the pain that girl must have been in, and now the pain the family will forever be in now that she is gone.  The end.  That’s all.  Not that she was somewhere she should not have been.  But because she was RAPED and then made to feel guilty for it and then took her own life.  I pray for her every day (in the Orthodox Church, we pray for the dead).

As a mother of five boys and one girl, I try to teach them good decision making every day.  I teach them right from wrong.  I want them to be good to each other and good to those around them.  And as a woman, mother and daughter, I cannot ever make the excuse for rape.  Is there cause and effect?  Yes, of course.  Should we be cautious with many things?  Yes, of course.  But we  should never, for even a moment, cloud the truth that these heinous acts of violence are somehow lessened because of another individual’s poor decision making at that moment.

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