What We Should Take Away From The Stanford Rape Case And Its Victim

What We Should Take Away From The Stanford Rape Case And Its Victim

"Be careful, be a good friend, and be an advocate."
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By now, we've all heard about the Stanford rapist (oh, wait, but remember he's also a swimmer. That's an important tidbit to add, right?).

By now, we've all read the statement by his victim, a nameless, faceless young woman. Nameless and faceless like many other rape victims have felt.

By now, all of us are angry. We're scared. We have a tornado of emotions swirling around inside of us, on behalf of the victim and other victims we may know; because of the ignorance of the rapist – because that is what he is. I will not perpetuate the idea that his athletic prowess makes him anything more than the criminal he is - and his father's ludicrous statements.

We have a multitude of options. We can sit here and continue to blast the media for painting young women who drink and who dress a certain way "guilty" for their own rape; continue to berate the assailant and his father for their selfish, ridiculous behavior. We continue to belittle the judicial system with their lessened sentence of six months (three with good behavior) in prison for a 20-year-old man because he has Olympic aspirations or whatever reason they used to justify it, but where will that get us?

Right back here. On our social media accounts, the Odyssey and other online news sources, in the comments section, complaining and yelling at a brick wall. We scream and shout for change - change in attitudes, change in perception, change, change, change - but we are only tiring out our lungs for shouting and our fingers for typing. Change comes not with how many hate words you can type a minute, but with an alteration of your own behavior impacting someone else, and maybe even a society.

We live in a culture where certain people are given a pass because of their gender, while others are told to cover up because of their gender. But, we don't live in a world where the only people that rape others are men and the only people who get raped are women. Is this controversial? Yes. Is it a lie? No.

The point is to make sure situations like this one – the Stanford rapist and his victim, the media circus, the trial, and the act itself – stop happening. How?

I'm not here to say to everyone to stop drinking, stop partying, ladies stop wearing short skirts, and boys stop "being boys." None of that should be a "cause" when it comes to sexual assault. What causes rape? A rapist, plain and simple.

I'm saying we need to be consciously aware that things like this happen, and not just when the media blows up about it. It shouldn't take a (now infamous) swimmer from a prestigious university who got "20 minutes of action" being the man in question for the courts, the media, and us as individuals to care about this issue. It happens more often than we would like to think. And that's the key. We don't like think about it, not until its being shoved down our throats every time we open our Facebook page.

So think about it. After the tornado blows over, after the dust has settled, because eventually this too will fade out of the media spotlight. Remember it, because you know the victim, her family, and yes, even the rapist with the same name as a character from Pokemon, will always remember it. Be aware that these things can happen, and if you are coherent and able - unlike this poor girl - to remove yourself from a situation before it's too late, do it. If you are a friend, relative or significant other to a person who has had this happen to them, be there for them when they need you and give them space if they don't. If you are a friend of someone who, even if sincerely unintentionally, could find themselves in a situation where they are the pursuer, watch out for them, too.

If you are someone who has never known what it's like to endure a type of pain and suffering while still living day in and day out like victims of sexual assault, and you claim to truly care about the issue, speak up. That doesn't just mean sharing this to your Facebook wall, (anyone can click a button) but show in your actions that you care.

Remember this.

Be careful, be a good friend, and be an advocate, if you really do care as much as your Twitter page would suggest. Put the words in the comments section into action, and do not be a bystander. Be a Swede, for goodness sake. Be a voice of reason; a good influence. Be a teacher. Be a hero for your generation and generations to come. But above all else, do your best to be a good person. And if you are a good person, you'll never have to ask what that entails.

Cover Image Credit: nbcnews.com

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Why We Become Emotionally Attached To Sports

It's never just a game.
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There is nothing rational about sports fandom. On the most basic level, being a fan of a sports team means pulling for a group of strangers to win a game whose outcome is both impossible to influence as a spectator and has no discernable impact on our day-to-day lives. And yet, the emotional highs that result from your team pulling off a seemingly impossible victory, coupled with the occasional lows that invariably follow a heartbreaking loss, are not easy to forget, no matter how much time passes. At the end of the day, it’s only a game, and it really shouldn’t matter who wins or loses. Of course, whether or not a game should matter doesn’t change the fact that, for better or worse, for many people it absolutely does.

Sports are incredibly powerful. A single team can bring generations of families together, become ingrained in the fabric of the city it represents, and even unify entire countries. Objectively, there is absolutely no reason the outcome of a game should be consequential enough to affect so many people on such a deep emotional level. However, being a fan means leaving objectivity out of the picture. As a fan, once the decision is made that a specific team is “your” team, it is nearly impossible not to become emotionally invested in the successes and failures of said team.

Once you have chosen a team as your own, that team remains yours through thick and thin. The loyalty of some sports fans is truly astounding and borderline stupefying. In other words, fandom has no boundaries, and why loyalty to one team persists over time without fail has little to do with the outcomes of the individual games. As the old saying goes, “you win some, you lose some.” Being a fan means standing by your team regardless of what the final score is, because, no matter what changes from season to season, or even game to game, the connection forged with and dedication to a team remains constant.

Speaking from personal experience, there are few more satisfying moments than finally watching your team take home a championship. This wouldn’t be such a gratifying experience if it were easier to come by. From a statistical standpoint, only one team can be declared league champion every year, which means that the overwhelming majority of the time, whatever team you decide to support will fall short of its ultimate goal. However, unwavering belief in a team will, without fail, lead fans, young and old alike, to suspend disbelief and cling to the hope that their team is somehow destined to defy long odds and emerge the ultimate victors.

Whether or not the faith someone places in his or her team year after year is justified, at the beginning of every season, there is always a chance that any year could be the year. On a basic level, sports serve as a beacon of hope. Being a sports fan provides the opportunity to become invested in something far greater than oneself, which is why even watching a group full of strangers succeed and fail can feel so personal, almost as if it is happening directly to you. Even if being a fan means setting yourself for a higher number of devastating losses than series-clinching wins, deep down we all believe that, one day, it will be our team’s—and by extension, our—turn to be labeled reigning champions, and it will one-hundred percent be worth the wait. More importantly, we will be able to say that, after waiting for so many years, we finally got a chance to see the unthinkable happen and we were all were lucky enough to be part of it.

It may only be a game, but it’s pretty incredible how much one game and one team can mean to so many people.

Cover Image Credit: Getty Images

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If You Voted to Take My Rights Away This Election, Block Me

I am an American just as you but I do not have time to be friends with Republicans.

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You might find this harsh but…

I don't want to be friends with anyone who voted Republican this election.

What about friendship despite the odds? What about coexistence and tolerance? Why does it matter?

If you cannot support my rights as a woman, or my rights as a person of color, or my rights as a human being, I do not want to be your friend. If you do not support trans rights, reproductive rights, and #BlackLivesMatter, I do not want to be your friend. If you do not want to support Native Americans and indigenous peoples, if you do not want to support asylum seekers, if you do not want to support immigration, I do not want to be your friend.

I owe you nothing.

I know that this seems harsh, but if you sided with Donald Trump in the previous election, voted for Brian Kemp -a literal criminal- I do not owe you a single ounce of my energy.

Brian Kemp? A criminal, you say?

Voter suppression is an illegal act. Destroying ballots is an illegal act. Not sending power cords and broken machines to polling locations? Probably should be illegal.

This is not just because of a party difference, but I genuinely believe that we were cut from different cloths, raised differently, and have a different worldview.

I do not want to spend my time arguing with you. I do not want to spend my time telling you why I deserve rights. I do not want to spend time telling you why my brown brothers and sisters deserve rights. I do not want to tell you why my sisters of all shapes and sizes and colors should have bodily autonomy and the right to live freely. These things should be inherent.

I have spent so much time in my short life telling people that I deserve to be treated as any other human person that I am burned out. It is not my responsibility for me to make you "woke". Read some literature. Get woke.

I could care less if you voted Libertarian or Green Party or Democratic. I do not have it in me to argue with you on that, because you are entitled to vote however you choose -but the moment your party and your vote steps on my rights, I am not here to play nice.

My civil rights are not yours to take.

This midterm election is so important for many reasons. I did not wake up at 5:30 today with an alarm, rather, my body woke me up and let me know that today is a day of history.

So I extend my congratulations to all the new-elects. Many women of color today made history. I cannot wait to hear the results in Georgia, my home, and hopefully soon, the home of the first African American female governor of Georgia.

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