Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What we should teach our daughters (and sons) about rape

1 in 4 women will be the victim of sexual assault in her life time.  Take a look around you right now.  If it's not you, it's someone you know and love.

Though I'm not technically sure whether I fit the criteria since I was able to fight off my attacker and escape, I am a victim.

I was 15.

My attacker was a 15 year old boy.  A friend.  A good friend.

Until something in him flipped and he decided to try and overpower me, force me to do things against my will, locked me in a bathroom and scared the shit out of me.

I am thankful for years of martial arts training for saving my ass that day.

Did I press charges?  No.

Did I tell my parents right away?  No.

Did I tell our circle of friends?  No.

Did I tell ANYONE?  No.  

I didn't because I was afraid, even back then, that the events would be distorted.  That I would be somehow blamed, responsible.  That my shorts were too short.  That I'd looked at him the wrong way.  That I'd said something he misinterpreted.  That I asked for it.  That I was a whore.  That I was easy.

That he wasn't to blame.

That he was just a boy being a boy.

That it was crazy teenage hormones.


Stop right here for a moment and think about that.

What if I was your sister?  What if I was your friend?  What if I was your daughter?

Rape is not about sex.  Rape is about power.  It is about control.  It is not perpetrated by horny young men without an ability to control themselves.  It is perpetrated by criminals with intent to hurt someone else for the sake of making themselves feel bigger, stronger, greater, better.

I think all the time about what might have happened if I hadn't been able to fight back enough, if he'd gotten his way.

Then I think about what might have happened if it all went down now, in this generation.  If he had a cell phone and a Twitter account.  If he took pictures of what he did and showed them to anyone who wanted to see.  If those people who saw the pictures did nothing.  If there were other people there when he took them, and none of them did anything to stop him.

Then I think about what might have happened if I was drunk when it went down.  I drank a lot back then, way more than an irresponsible teenager should have.  I blacked out sometimes.  It could have happened.  If it had happened at a party and there was more than one guy.  If they passed me around like a toy.  If they thought I was dead and laughed about it.

This is what happened to the girl in Ohio.

The guy who attacked me wasn't an athlete.  He wasn't a great student.  He didn't have a wonderful future waiting for him.  These kids in Steubenville, did, so the media says.  They were good students, great football players.

Why should that matter?

Who gives a shit?

It does not change the fact that they are criminals.  Sexually violent criminals.

They didn't make a mistake.  They didn't have hormones raging out of control.  They are criminals.

If we are going to give boys like them a pass or feel sympathy for them because they are hormonal and drunk, then what are we saying about boys in general???  That they simply lack the ability to control themselves?  That they are not capable of empathy?  That they are just automated semen machines waiting for something to hump after a few beers? That if they have talents in some other area, we'll let violent sex crimes go?


Men are more than their irresistible primal urges, and women are more than holes waiting to be penetrated.

Does that make you uncomfortable???

GOOD.  It should.

Raise the goddamn bar, society.

Hold these kids accountable for what they've done.  Stop feeling sorry for the ones here who had a choice in what happened, regardless of what their GPAs were.  Stand up in support of this girl, for speaking out about what happened to her, doing something I did not do out of fear, even though she knew that there would be horrible consequences.

These boys are criminals; criminals that should have been tried as adults in my opinion, if not for the actions that took place that night, for what they did after they sobered up.  They did unspeakable things to this girl, treated her like a piece of meat.  She's since had to deal with even more abuse at the hands of the rest of the school, and now by the media.

It doesn't matter that she was drunk.

It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter.

Rape is rape.

We need to stop allowing this twisted society we live in to portray these boys as victims, we need to give the victims incentives to come forward - like protecting their identity on the nationwide news, we need to stop allowing our politicians to qualify rape with words like legitimate, we need to stop believing that if we teach our girls to dress conservatively and not to drink that they'll be safe.

We need to start teaching our children, ALL OF OUR CHILDREN, male and female, to respect other people.

We need to teach them empathy and compassion.

We need to teach them that rapists are criminals and that victims aren't to blame.

We need to teach them that there are consequences for hurting other people, and that society isn't going to give a damn how well they can catch a ball once they are sitting in a defendant's chair.

Raise the bar.


  1. You are brave. You are amazing. I'm sharing this everywhere I can. Thank you for opening up like this - I'm sure you're going to give courage to women and girls who have been silent.

    Thank you. Thank you.

  2. Absolutely brilliant! Raising the bar is necessary across the board.

  3. I am standing and clapping. And I'm sharing as soon as I put my baby son, who has go grow up sometime even though I don't want him to, to bed.

  4. Everyone I know has a near miss story (usually more than one) or a story of actually being sexually assaulted. I wish our society would stop blaming the victim. With cases like this one I am just shocked and disgusted by the misplaced concern over the perpetrators. It's disturbing that we are not further along in our thinking.

  5. Absolutely. Human beings are not THINGS to be used, taken pictures of, talked about, or bullied for the entertainment of those who believe themselves to be more powerful and think they can get away with it.

  6. We aren't allowed to criticize children for making bad choices. Discipline has changed. Consequences don't exist. No one is held accountable for their actions. It's all forgivable. It's all someone else's fault that they acted the way they did. You just aren't looking hard enough for the root cause of the misdeed. Sigh.... Yes, this is tongue in cheek me shaking my head at what our society has become. We must accommodate all things, we must not change what people do, we must change how we look at it. They couldn't possibly be bad

  7. Thank you. May I quote and link back to your blog in a post?

  8. Thank you. What you write here is so true. Wow,I'm sharing I've been a victim at a young age. Thank you again.

  9. So powerful Kelly. "Raise the goddamn bar, society." AMEN! I WILL be having this discussion with my sons and daughter. Sadly, it won't be the first or last time.

  10. Thanks for sharing this. I was 17 when it happened to me and I never said a word either.

  11. Disgust! That's all I felt this week for the media and their characterization of those rapists. And, I felt sickened that those would-be rapists, who didn't physically touch the girl but violated her with their online jokes and taunts got away!

  12. This brought me to tears..yes tears! Why? Because i was that girl..that girl that was raped by a "friend" at 14 and it destroyed me for a LONG time! I was blamed by a FEMALE police officer, told I shouldn't have been with him and maybe if I wouldn't have been wearing a skirt and sweater with a turtle neck it wouldn't have happened. I came forward and what did it get me...Harrassed to the point I had to change schools and move yes move! Its not right and its not fair to that young lady! NO ONE has the right to touch someone else if they don't want to be touched EVER!!! I have taught my sons this since they could even possibly understand what I was talking about. Thank you for saying what needed to be said!

  13. As a survivor of sexual abuse, this whole situation makes me particularly sick to my stomach. I agree with everything you said here. But I also think we need to take it a step further. I saw a really good piece yesterday about how we should stop using the "what if she was your sister/mother/daughter/friend" argument. The essence of it was that we need to stop looking at the situation through that lens, because it restricts people from seeing a victim who is unknown to them as a human being with the exact same rights as everyone else. I'm nowhere near as eloquent as the original author (and I'll be damned if I can find that article again- I tried looking but I have no idea how I got to it), but the basic argument is that we need to get to a point where people get offended WITHOUT that sentiment. People should be horrified that sexual abuse/assault exists at all, regardless of who the victim is.

    Regardless, this is extremely well-written. The media has been awful in addressing this case, and looking beyond Steubenville, or India, or anywhere else rape is making the news, it's pretty much the same. I'm actually not sure why this case is getting so much more attention than others, with the exception of the role social media played. It's sad and disturbing to see the reactions of people to the verdict, though. We really, really need a change. In politics, in society, and in the world.

  14. We are a fucked up society. The sooner we relise it and FIX it the better. It starts now, today. I will have more conversations with both my son and daughter. We all need to fix it. Thank you for sharing

  15. Something similar happened to me. I was thinking about writing about it. I may rethink.

    And it did matter that she was drunk. It made it even more reprehensible. Because she was an even easier target. She didn't even have her wits about her to fight back or say no. They took advantage of a drugged person. An incapacitated person. She was like shooting fish in a barrel.


  16. "Men are more than their irresistible primal urges, and women are more than holes waiting to be penetrated.

    Does that make you uncomfortable???

    GOOD. It should.

    Raise the goddamn bar, society."


    I have been struggling with this news ever since I first read about it, and I posted last week to try and find some way to respond as a parent of a very young girl. But the tornado in my head continues, and reading your post helped calm it a bit. Thank you.

  17. I am still catching up on posts and missed this one. I'm so sorry that happened to you. Yes, the talking makes us uncomfortable but the talking is the only solution. A part of me wants to call the boys, now men from my post and talk to them and say "do you get it now? do you feel badly?" I wonder if they think about it the way their victims do. Part of me hopes there is that shred inside them.


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