Rape is an
uncomfortable subject for pretty much everyone. It's an understandable
convention, but the fact of the matter is that we need to talk about it. The
victim blaming and excuse making has to stop. People need to know that they can
be open and honest if they are violated.
Recently a friend of mine came to me with this poem and gave me permission to share it:
It's important to remember your first times in life
You know, to have those treasured memories
Like the first time riding a bike or first concert
Those memories always stick with us
Like the glue on that macaroni art you did for father's day when you were little
Of course, not all will be remembered like your first steps
But we all remember one
Your first time
Was it in the day or was it in the night?
(Mine personally was in the day)
Now was it with a boy or a girl?
Mine was with a female specimen, but let's twirl over that
I'm gonna talk about my first time with a boy
Now, I know you must be thinking, "Please, do tell me more."
And you just hold your horses, because this isn't an easy chore
Let's cut to the important part and start at the couch
We were canoodling and such while "watching" a movie and things got heated
Pants were taken off and so was underwear
But conversations were held in between that touch
Words spoken between each other of me saying NO to sex
Of me wanting to wait to have sex as I had just broken up with my ex
He agreed to wait and I trusted him
Trust given to practically a stranger
But I liked him, and he said he liked me
He said we were gonna go on dates
He called me beautiful
He said he respected me
His words obviously meant something else, BECAUSE
He got on top of me
And kissed me
Saying how much he wanted me
And how badly he wanted to do it
All I could say was "Don't do it."
And I said no
I said NO
He said "Don't worry, I won't do it."
He said he wouldn't do it
I trusted him NOT to do it
I SAID no
I repeated it over and over until all that was in my mind was "no"
I f***ing said no
I trusted him and thought so much of him
AND I SAID NO
He gave me such good attention, how could he?
AND NO MEANS NO
All I wanted was his affection
AND NO IS A SUFFICIENT ANSWER
But not to him
The first word that popped into my mind was the word
The four letter R word
When it happened, I didn't know what to do
I felt like I couldn't do anything
I already said no, so why would he stop now?
Why would he?
But I put on a happy look and told him it was great
Like you're supposed to after sex
And raved to my friends
Like you're supposed to after your cherry's popped
And I even had sex with him again
So people knew it was all good
I denied it at first, thinking that he wouldn't have raped me
I don't get raped
I'm sixteen, that doesn't happen to me
I wasn't pinned down and held against my will
I wasn't drunk and unconscious
But I said no
It still bothers me
It still leaves a feeling of guilt inside
I feel like I could've done more to stop it
But I didn't
So do I have the right to call it rape?
Was I raped?
I said no
And no means no
And no is a sufficient answer
A part of my heart broke when I read it, for a lot of reasons. First of all, the obvious: she's my friend and ever since I found out about this I've been really worried about her. But it's more than just that. I know that the boy who did this to her is going to walk free for it. I know that she's still too scared, or hurt, or feeling too guilty, to tell anyone. Not even her mother.
But here's the worst part: my friend doesn't feel like she has the right to say she was raped. My friend, who did not give her consent, is under the impression that saying "no" isn't enough. That somehow this boy acting like he was entitled to decide if she was ready or not wasn't an issue.
Do you understand how insane that is?
We are growing up in a society that leads us to believe that unless you are held down against your will, unless you are drugged or unconscious, unless you are fighting with every ounce of strength you have, it's not rape.
When she first told me about this, my friend said she could have easily stopped him, but she didn't. And she had sex with him again a few weeks later. As if that is somehow the equivalent to consent.
That makes me want to be physically sick.
My friend's first time was taken away from her, and she doesn't feel like she has the right to say she was raped.
Why do we live in a world where anyone feels this way?
It is 2016, and when a girl wears a short skirt, she's "asking for it." I've had friends whose significant others tell them not to wear certain clothing because it perpetuates rape culture and they're going to get raped. Girls can wear whatever they want, and they're still not "asking for it." Rape is horrible and nobody wants it. We need to stop treating women like sexual objects. Women are people, people who do not give up their right to consent by dressing provocatively.
It is 2016, and if a someone gets raped, it's still something they did wrong. We need to put an end to victim blaming. Rape is never the victim's fault. Never.
It is 2016, and we are still acting with the idea that if a survivor didn't say "no," they somehow automatically said "yes." Consent must be given affirmatively and enthusiastically. It's not as if someone can do whatever they want to you up until you say no.
It is 2016, and we still assume that if a survivor didn't go to the police, they weren't really raped. Have you ever been to a police station? It's not exactly the most comforting place to open up. Not to mention, the rape trial is often called the "second rape" as the victim has to relive the incident over and over in front of their rapist and a whole room of people. There are a million reasons why a victim wouldn't want to go to the police.
It is 2016, and we still don't treat someone who got raped the same way we'd treat someone whose was the victim of any other crime. If someone told you they were robbed, would you say, "But weren't you kind of asking to get robbed? Since you have all that nice stuff?" No, you wouldn't. Because that makes absolutely no sense.
It is 2016, and we are still teaching our women how to avoid getting raped instead of teaching everyone about consent. Rape is the responsibility of the rapist, and people need to be taught how not to be a rapist instead of how not to get raped.
It is 2016, and we are still acting like the only people who get raped are women and the only rapists are men. Rape has no gender, age, race, or sexuality.
It is 2016, and I am sick of the way society treats rape victims. There's no excuse for it. We need to work together and make this world a place where rape survivors no longer feel like they have to pretend their rape never happened.