Bill Cosby and Brett Kavanaugh have dominated the news this week — one convicted of rape; the other accused of attempted rape. And everywhere we turn, people are talking about it. And the discussion has been extremely divisive… about Kavanaugh, in particular.
Social media threads have exploded in heated arguments, friends and family lining up firmly behind Kavanaugh or firmly behind his accuser, Christine Blasé Ford. Our country, our families, our friendships are split — and incredibly, it’s almost entirely along party lines.
And it boggles my brain.
I don’t get it. I just don’t — particularly when women are the ones pointing fingers accusingly at the victim. Because odds are they, or someone close to them, has been sexually assaulted. But they have been conditioned by society to overlook it as simply “boys being boys.”
Trivializing and discounting stories of sexual assault by victims has been happening since man first wielded his weapon against a woman without her permission. Boys being boys. Biology at work.
Shakespeare even wrote about it, Ophelia proclaiming: “Young men will do it, if they come to it. By cock, they are to blame.” As if it is their biology and not the men themselves at fault. Well, the “boys will be boys” mentality needs to end. Boys are not just being boys. Boys are being violent sexual offenders.
The truth is in the numbers. And the numbers state that 1 in 3 women are assaulted — violently or sexually or both — in their lifetime. That equates to approximately 20 women per minute.
I personally know many of these women — far too many. Family members molested by relatives. Friends assaulted by strangers. Students raped by neighbors… and family… and friends… and authority figures… and strangers. As a teacher, I learn about more students who have been sexually assaulted every single year –sometimes, every single month. My heart crumbles with the weight of knowledge. The numbers are staggering.
And the fact that I know about these assaults means that more women are telling their stories. And that is good. But we need more women to prosecute. And based upon this week’s events, that seems highly unlikely.
Sexual assault victims have already been violated in the most personal and painful of ways. And then, if they prosecute, they will be violated in the most public and painful of ways, too. Many women feel they can’t possibly withstand the relived emotional and physical trauma along with the fresh emotional and character trauma.
So they tell therapists and husbands and friends and family instead of telling the police. The reasons are manifold: Fear, Ignorance, Shame, Guilt. Pain…
But the biggest reason of all is Society — all other reasons stem from Society. Society persecutes — and as good as prosecutes — women if they report their sexual assault.
The US legal system is archaic and unfair in so many situations, but particularly so when it comes to sexual assault. Women are put on trial, right along with their rapists. Their character is targeted. Their value and worth is denigrated. Their lives and choices and actions and clothing are torn asunder… All. Over. Again.
To demonstrate just how far behind our legal system is, it wasn’t until 1993 that all 50 states made it illegal for a husband to rape his wife. Up until then, it was “to have and to hold till death do us part… our legs,” however HE wants, whenever HE wants. And there was not a damned thing a wife could say or do about it.
And outside of wedlock hasn’t been much better.
I was taken against my will when I was a teenager. And I said nothing. To no one. Not a friend, not a family member, not a single soul. Not until years later. I never even confronted the guy who did it — even though I saw him every day. Heck, I even kept dating him. And I just thought that’s how it was. We were a couple. We had already had sex. I believed if I’d given myself to him before, then he was entitled.
I was ignorant. I was a product of my upbringing. Men always had the right of way. I was supposed to defer to him, whether I wanted it or not. I had no voice. Or that’s what I believed.
So I kept my mouth shut. Except for when he demanded I open it. For him. And I never confronted him. And even if I had, he wouldn’t have remembered. And he would have denied it. Like Kavanaugh. And he probably would have passed a polygraph…
Because he was drunk. Sloppy drunk. Both times. So I told myself that he would never have done it, never would have ignored my NO if he weren’t. And I believed it.
I have a friend who didn’t report her assault either. She was groped and mauled in the back seat of a limo by two drunk guys who wouldn’t take NO for an answer. All while her friend was cuddled up in a corner of the car with a third guy.
My friend had the driver stop the car, and she got out, losing valuable possessions in the process, but not losing a piece of herself. But that so-called friend of hers got mad. Got mad at my friend for costing her a hook up. Told her she’d overreacted.
My friend had bruises and scratches on both breasts and was sobbing on the side of the road. But her friend was pissed — at my friend. NOT at the guys.
And I know a friend’s daughter who was raped. And she did report the assault. But then didn’t press criminal charges. Because she was afraid. She was afraid of being put on trial — right along with them. Yes, THEM. Multiple rapists. Drunk. At a party.
And I know a former student who was molested by an older man she knew and trusted — trusted right up to the point he stuck his tongue down her throat and palmed her breasts. After a party. And he was drunk. And she likewise reported the assault. But even then, not much happened to him. Not much at all.
And the common denominator here?
Sexual assault… but I bet you thought I was going to say DRUNK. That all the offenders were drunk. Which they were. But that excuses nothing — no matter how society tries to sugar-coat it as an excuse.
He didn’t mean it. He’d had too much to drink. That’s not like him. He never would’ve done that if he were sober.
Well, guess what? Drinking is NO excuse.
What’s that public service announcement? “Buzzed Driving IS Drunk Driving…”
Well, Buzzed Sexual Assault IS Sexual Assault.
It’s looking like karma may finally catch up to Brett Kavanaugh for his drunken debauchery of thirty-plus years ago. At least I sincerely hope so.
And I hope karma gets all the other sexual offenders who have not yet paid for their crimes because the women they violated were too afraid or too brainwashed by society and its” Boys Will Be Boys” excuse to make sure they paid.
And I hope and pray that the #metoo movement — the so-called buzzword of 2018, a buzzword born on the backs of so many buzzed men humping away in their entitled, animalistic states as if their biology dictates and depends on it — I pray that the movement upends the status quo.
I hope and pray that women will find the courage to tell. Find the courage to prosecute. Find the courage to change Society.
Today, I write about myself and other women I know. Women who are my friends and family and students. But I am reminded of a compelling and powerful meme I saw this week: “She’s someone
She’s not someone’s something. Society needs to understand that.
SHE IS SOMEONE.