One of my memories of childhood is watching the soap opera, General Hospital. A pivotal scene that was embedded in my nine year old mind, in 1979, was the scene where Luke raped Laura at a disco.
What made this scene an emblem of rape culture is that this soap opera turned this rape into a huge love story that culminated into one of the biggest television weddings of all time.
The message was clear. Rape turns into love.
Soap operas weren’t the only places that was pushing that theme. Try to read a romance novel from the 1970’s or 1980’s without there being a scene where the female protagonist isn’t raped by the male protagonist. And we were lucky if there was only one rape scene – often there were many – and they often included a violent scene by another outside male enemy of the “hero.”
This was my childhood.
Watching rape being not only normalized,but somehow celebrated as the root of love affairs.
I have been told that a female family member was molested by her father because “he was the type of man who needed sex everyday.” As if that was a valid excuse or justification.
I am not saying that woman fantasize about being raped, but the literature and entertainment of my day, definitely made it seem like rape was a normal part of a woman’s life. And maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky, our rapists will marry us like Luke married Laura.
It seems sick and twisted in today’s society that these things were promoted so heavily during my childhood.
But it helps me to understand why rape culture is still so prevalent in our society.
When convicted rapists get probation because “jail would be too hard for them,” I am not at all surprised. My initial thought is that the judge is a rapist too.
Why girls are told in middle school that they can’t wear leggings because “it might distract the boys.”
Why language promoting sexual assault is dismissed as “locker room talk.”
Is it fair for me to call a judge a rapist? I don’t know. I just know that justifying rape and slapping rapist on the wrist pretty much makes them an accessory after the fact. They are enabling rape. It’s the same thing as doing it.
Just like the men and women who are accusing Donald Trump’s accusers of lying or trying to steal the 15 minutes of fame. Or saying “they need to go to the court of law” (even though they know statue of limitations prohibit this). They are rape enablers.
Rape culture may have been normalized and even pushed as a “fantasy” during my childhood, but many of my peers woke up and said “ENOUGH!” So we work hard to make sure that rape culture is no longer normalized or promoted. We teach our children to fight against it and call it out whenever they see it.
I tell my daughters do not allow ANYONE to touch you without permission. And this includes hugs, handshakes or even conversation. Fuck politeness. Protect yourself. I have told my children to yell, scream, punch, kick, bite, claw, gauge out eyes, whatever they need to do to remain safe.
If the attention is unwanted, then the other person needs to back up. Even if it’s their teachers.
I had a school principal and the school board tell me that a teacher could put her arms fully around my daughter last year. To which I said, “Hell no – touch my kid again and I will sue.” I was threatened with jail because I told them that they promoted rape culture. I will gladly go to jail to protect my children (and if this happens, please send bail and lawyer money because Louisiana doesn’t have adequate resources to allow criminal defense so people literally sit in jail for extended periods of time without due process – but that’s a whole different story).
NO ONE. And I mean NO ONE is allowed to touch my children without their permission and consent. And you can be damned sure that I will fight for their rights on this issue.
My son has five older sisters. You can be assured that he knows the consequences of disrespecting women. He is taught that a woman’s body is her own and her “no” is absolutely a “no” – as a matter of fact, if she doesn’t say “yes” explicitly, then just assume that it’s a “no.” And I am not trying to sexist here either- because he knows that his body is his own and that no one should be touching him without his permission and consent. Let’s not forget that boys are victims of sexual assault as well as girls. What is so hard to understand about this?
If every parent, teacher, professional, and basically all adults would enable and empower their children instead of enabling adults, rape culture would die out before I do.
And rape culture needs to die. Quickly.
Sexual assault destroys lives. Way more than anything else in the world. Yet we are being told “there are more important issues.”
When 90% of the female adult prison population have been victims of prior sexual assault, I say that they are wrong. These women – mothers, sisters, daughters – have left family behind that need them. Sexual assault put their lives on a path that has ended with them being imprisoned. And I am to believe that “there are more important issues?”
Let’s stop the bullshit for one minute and realize that this is the issue. Sexual assault and rape culture is an issue that needs to be addressed today. Not tomorrow, not next election cycle. It needs to be addressed and ended – RIGHT NOW.