(I meant to make my next post about something lighter, I really did. There are just too many idiots out there to correct. And of course I, and I alone, have all the answers. 🙂 )
The internet is a great thing. If I have a question all I have to do is google it. I don’t have a television but I can still keep up to date with what’s going on in the world through the net. It has allowed easy access to knowledge for the masses. Whether or not the information is correct is a different story. Which brings me to my point.
Turns out everyone has an opinion. While we’ve always known this, the internet is able to give anyone and everyone a space to voice their opinions. All kinds of trolls and idiots who used to only bother their friends and families with their opinions are suddenly able to spew ignorance and hate anywhere they please. The barrier and anonymity of the computer screen also allows for dehumanization. Not saying that every person who says something mean or spiteful online wouldn’t also do it in person, but they may think twice. Instead of using all the potential knowledge that is at their finger tips they insist on spreading the ignorance.
Take for example the following commenter and why I am currently so angry that I keep having to pause, and refrain from saying something incredibly stupid and hurtful back. I have learned not to read through the comments on pieces related to rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault. They are often hurtful and intended to shame or blame the survivor. This upsets me more than virtually anything else as it is something that I am well-educated on, have personal experience, and know several survivors. I do not understand how there are so many misconceptions and so much ignorance around these issues. So many of the things I hear from people are either archaic notions about a woman’s purity, or myths that have been debunked over and over again.
I was recently reading an article about how many states do not have laws against a rapist seeking parental rights if he impregnates the woman and she decides to have the baby. This is extremely upsetting to me in and of itself and I naively thought others would be upset as well. So, I went against my better judgement and scrolled through the comments. Not only did people not agree with me but the comments turned towards defining what rape is and who can be raped. That is when I came across this gem. Pay attention to the second commenter.
Chartreuxe: “It happens: 90% of rapists get away with their crimes because of the 18th century attitudes of society. The victim is held responsible for her rape. Most rapes aren’t reported. I didn’t report mine.”
sc2pilot: “Chartreuxe: If you did not report it, then you were not raped. Failure to report is tantamount to consent. That’s all there is to it.”
Are you kidding me?! There are so many things wrong with this statement I don’t even know where to begin. I am so mad right now I can hardly type. Failure to report does not equal consent. Not even close. It is attitudes like this that keep survivors from reporting. The article mentions a quote from Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale, “In a rape case it is the victim, not the defendant, who is on trial.” The above comment proves his point perfectly. It becomes more important to define rape and prove that there was a reason for it than supporting the survivor.
No one is responsible for the rape but the rapist. It is the rapist who decides to rape. It has nothing to do with the clothes, behavior, or attitude of the survivor/victim. It does not matter if she was drunk. It does not matter if she was high. It does not matter if she went on a blind date. It does not matter if they were married. And it does not matter if she doesn’t report it. Rape is rape. The only person responsible for someones actions is that person. I don’t know how to say it any clearer. Rape is about power and control. It is not about sex. The rapist maintains that power and control by making the survivor afraid to report it. This doesn’t have to be done overtly. The rapists power over the survivor is aided by the silence and disbelief of other people. Did you catch that? By shaming a survivor or blaming her for what happened to her you are taking the side of the rapist. You are helping the rapist keep the survivor down. You are helping him to disempower her. You are helping him to take away her voice. You are aiding the rapist.