The recent details and verdict in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case seems to have rightly brought a lot of the issues regarding rape front and center. I watched the Melissa Harris-Perry show this weekend and there was a significant discussion centering around sexual assault and how so many of the conversations around the topic have all centered around the woman’s ability to prevent herself from getting raped as opposed to the idea that perhaps, men just shouldn’t rape women.
Oh, and that if you know a woman like Ronnie from The Player’s Club, you should stay away from her at all costs. She’s a woman with a male mentality. Or at least a “male” mentality when it comes to her outlook on how the world works. I do happen to know a woman like her. And yes, she’s in Atlanta. And she may or may not be apart of my family. I’ll never tell.
But, while listening to all of the discussions, I really took a minute to think about the very idea and concept of sexual assault. See, I can honestly say that I’ve spent very little time ever actually concerning myself with it. To be completely real, not until my daughter showed up did I start to really think about the possibility of “bad” things happening. By bad, I mean roughly anything too. Which is odd considering many of the places I’ve lived in life where “bad” things were just commonplace. Perhaps because of my background I’ve just been desensitized to certain violent acts. But nearly all of them involved violence of men towards other men. For me, thats a norm (or was). The fact that violence is a norm is problematic in and of itself, but that’s another talk show.
Let’s just skip the academics and get right to the point. I have four sisters. To my knowledge, none of them have been victims of rape or sexual assault. To my knowledge. But more importantly, I’ve never even thought to ask. It has never dawned on me ’til today, amidst a Twitter “rant” per se, to ever ask any of my sisters – and we’re all close – if they’ve ever had anybody force them to do something against their will.
Then comes the second half of that thought process: I’m afraid to find out.
Think about it, what do you do if you ask your sister, and she says, “yes, I was raped. But I didn’t tell anybody because who was going to believe me?” What do you do if you ask all of your sisters and they tell you that they’ve been the victims of some sort of sexual violence?
I used to date a woman, years ago, who told me that she was the victim of rape when she was very young. I didn’t even know her that well but that bit of information rocked me to my corps. It still does and I haven’t spoken to her in quite some time.
What do you do when somebody that you actually love and care about tells you that something so heinous happened to them? That’s what gets lost to me in so many of the ridiculous commentary and opinions and the wholeÂ idea that a woman can prevent it from happening. Yes, the chick in Steubenville was drunk off her gourd. That doesn’t mean that she asked for it. And considering some of the statements that the main dude made against her, I mean, as his parent…don’t you kind of have to move? If I found out that my child was the one who engaged in those activities and got caught saying stuff like, “she’s basically a dead boy. I just want some sexual attention.” (or whatever exactly it was that he said), I’d be going to jail as well.
Am I ever going to look at my sister and wonder what she did to invite that violence should she tell me something happened to her? Hell no. The rage I’d feel wouldn’t allow me the time to even allow for that. There’s never a reason to violate somebody’s person, no matter what the circumstance and I’m a bit surprised that anybody thinks that is okay. It truly dumbfounds me
But again, I’ve never asked. And as much as it’s on my mind, I’m likely not to ever do that. Part me of believes that if something ever did happen, I’d already know. But part of me also knows that my sisters know that I’ve got a dangerous aspect to my life. One that’s gotten itself into trouble before and who has been a “squeeze first, ask questions last” mentality type of guy. But the other piece is, I’m just not ready for that answer to be “yes.”
I’m just not. That would be real pain to me. The idea that women so strong could be turned helpless and given up on hope while some man (or Ronnie) decided to prove to her that her life wasn’t her own bothers me as I’m writing this.
The thing that makes the Steubenville case so important is that the guys told on themselves and there are like a million “accomplices”. We’ve never had such a window into how a woman was treated so disrespectfully before. Hell, she didn’t even know until she found out via others. I can’t imagine what that feels like.
Ultimately, this entire episode caused me to evaluate my own thoughts because despite being raised around nothing but women, I’ve always viewed them as sisters, not women. But when I realize they’re both sisters AND women, I have to realize that the possibilities are endless. Hell, I don’t even like going out with them because of the attention they get.
Because of where that attention might lead and what that might lead me to (have to) do. Its the proverbial head in the sand approach.
Seems like the approach many of us have taken. The problem is that at some point you have to take a look to see what you’re avoiding, so you can make sure you’re still avoiding it. Hopefully you don’t see a trail of blood and tears.
Because once you know, you know, ya know. And if you know you have to do something, right?
Maybe that’s the problem. And that’s a problem.