Tuesday, June 7, 2016

the value of a woman

In our society, it seems like any time there is a high profile sexual assault case the same thing happens. Any time there is a high profile athlete or actor or singer accused of sexual assault, whether the case ever even makes it through the court system, the same thing happens. Any time there is a woman who comes forward with her story, the same thing happens.

It's happening right now, on television channels and social media feeds near you.

The questioning.
The doubting.
The blaming.
The shaming.
The well if she'd have respected herself-ing.
The what was she wearing.
The what was her prior dating history-ing.
The did she lead him on analyzing.
The she wasn't even conscious so how do we know she didn't consent-ing.
The not all men-ing.
The defending.
The justifying.
The concern about whether this is fair to him-ing.
The but he has to live with this for the rest of his life-ing.

I've seen it.
You've seen it.

I'm not about to spend any time here rehashing any of that. If you've thought or typed or dared to utter any of those things out loud in this particular instance, I'm urging you to drop whatever else it is that you're doing immediately. Go. Read the actual details of this assault. Read what his father and his friends said. Read the questions she was asked. Read what the judge said. Read the headlines and appreciate that the pictures attached to them up until yesterday were of a happy smiling man, the ones that omit words like "rapist" and include things like "record setting swimmer".

I'm simply not engaging anyone who hasn't equipped themselves with the facts of this case. Not going to do it.

I'm also not going to write some long drawn out article here about how we need to hyperfocus on the specific details of this one case as if it exists in some kind of vacuum. I'm not lending any credibility to the idea that this one case is especially heinous, but other women out there are to be legitimately doubted.

I'm never using the word legitimate in the same sentence as rape again. 

Most sexual assaults and rapes are never reported.
Most reported sexual assaults and rapes are never prosecuted.

You aren't going to catch me worrying about the very occasional false report as some kind of justification for why every report should be doubted. No.

I'm not going to write some long drawn out post here about the connection between sports and violence against women. I'm not going to present you with the scholarly articles and statistics showing these correlations. I'm not going to discuss whether we elevate boys and men simply because they can do things with a ball or in a pool and are willing to look the other way at the harms they hand down to others, predominately women, simply because of their abilities with that ball or in a pool. Plenty of other people are writing those pieces today. Plenty of other people have written them in the past. Plenty of other people will still keep writing them in frustration as little to nothing about our sports obsessed culture changes.

I'm not going to write about his father's shameful statement, the one that refuses to hold his son personally accountable for anything. I'm not going to talk about how the view of women as objects to be used is one handed down from generation to generation. Plenty of people are writing those pieces too.

I'm not going to write about what people need to teach their sons and daughters about consent. I've written those pieces before, but more importantly I've sat my children down and made it abundantly clear to them that consent isn't a complicated issue. It isn't something up for discussion. It isn't something to be picked apart in the media. It isn't something that can be implied by clothing or behavior or someone's past. It's not complicated.

Instead, today, I'm writing about statements like this one:

"well, what if she was your mother/daughter/sister?"

Each time a case infiltrates our national psyche, statements like these are thrown around almost constantly in an attempt to get people who don't care about sexual assault to care about it adequately. 

Each time rape is a discussion topic on social media, this line pops up in comment sections in response to anyone who doubts the woman's story, who shames her, who claims she asked for it or deserved it or whatever.

Each time rape is talked about, this argument is brought up, usually by well meaning people who are just trying to get someone to understand the horrific nature of rape and sexual assault. 

Here's the problem with this argument:

It dehumanizes women.

Now, before you go grab your pitchforks and yell at me about this statement, hear me out. I know that if you've said these words or typed these words, you were trying. I've said them myself in the past, and I try really fucking hard not to say them anymore. I still find myself saying them sometimes to people determined not to understand the gravity of sexual assault. 

Ask yourself why we're trying to convince other people that sexual assault is awful?

Ask yourself why we need to convince them that rape is bad?

Ask yourself why the only way to try and get through to some people is by making it personal?

A woman's value isn't dictated by her proximity to you.

A woman's body isn't private just because you might know her personally.

A woman's word isn't to be honored just because you're related to her.

This aspect alone tells me that misogyny is real, that rape culture has permeated every aspect of our society. If the only way that we get people to understand the horror of rape is to couch it as a hypothetical attack on their daughter or sister or mother, we've completely failed as a society.


A woman's value is not dictated by her emotional proximity to you.

A woman's value is not dictated by her emotional proximity to you.

A woman's value is not dictated by her emotional proximity to you.

You should care about rape and sexual assault because victims are people.
You should understand that consent can never be implied.
You should believe people when they say they've been hurt.
You shouldn't look past sexual assault because of other abilities.
You shouldn't need a hypothetical personal threat to make it real.

Most assaults are never reported.
Most cases are never prosecuted.

1 in 4 women will be assaulted, and yeah...some of those women are going to be women you know. Care about the rest of them too.

Care about them because they're human and you're human.

Stop needing emotional proximity.


  1. Wow! I've say it before. I had the best of intentions. A little ashamed of myself now. Thanks for always making me thing Kelly.

    1. Oh, I've said it too. Please don't think I'm saying you shouldn't have.

      We shouldn't have to.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well said Kelly. Thought perhaps you would like the attached.

  3. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom and insight. THEY ARE HUMAN ... it is enough


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