Rape Culture, Sexual Assault Survivors and Covencraft

Boys will be boys.

She was drunk and and at a party. What did she expect?

She didn’t say no, so meant yes.

He’s got such a bright future ahead of him, it would be a shame if he suffered for this.

Jesus, I’m so sick of rape culture. I’m sick of a society that STILL questions victims. A society in which EVERY OTHER CRIME the defendant is the one on trial, but with rape, the victim bears the burden.

If you take the things said about rape victims and say them about gun-shot victims, you can no longer ignore how ridiculous they are.

Did you wear that outfit on the off chance you might get shot? Didn’t you know that it’s legal to carry firearms in the USA so you could be shot at any time and by leaving your house, you were agreeing to potentially be shot? Did you tell the gunman, explicitly and several times, NOT to shoot you? Too bad. Your silence was taken as a yes.

When I hear that, I want to walk up to these people and ask them if they want to be punched, and then, before they can say ‘no’, punch them in the neck and let them know  I took their silence as consent.

Or how about flipping it around to mugging – by wearing that nice watch, weren’t you in fact asking to be mugged? Don’t you think that’s a message to all the muggers out there that you had a watch and if they wanted it, they could mug you because you were advertising it?

What about car accidents?

Car accident? Didn’t you agree  an accident could happen when you got behind the wheel? Isn’t driving on the freeway like saying you don’t care if you’re sideswiped? In fact, you’re open to it? Since you didn’t have a sign explicitly stating you didn’t want to be crashed into, isn’t it likely that you DID??

If you’re telling me that men cannot control themselves around women because of what women wear, then I say in return, why am I not locking PEOPLE UP BECAUSE THEY ARE UNCONTROLLABLE?? You know what we do to uncontrollable creatures? Creatures with no will power, with no higher reasoning, with no morals to discern what’s right and wrong? WE INCARCERATE THEM IN ZOOS AND JAILS. For they are animals and cannot abide by our society’s rules.

Rape culture is abhorrent to us all, or at least, it should be. Women should not live in a society where this is considered unavoidable behavior and men should not tolerate the notion that some members of society believe their sex is so animalistic, immoral and uncontrollable that they cannot be responsible for their own actions.

I was so incredibly moved to write this post by the recent letter of a rape victim to her rapist, which has since gone viral. Her words were raw, evocative, eloquent and haunting. While I found the entirety of her letter moving, the part that stuck with me the most was when she wrote if her rapist had acknowledged what he’d done, admitted guilt and remorse, she would have considered a lighter sentence. I have never read such grace and mercy on earth. She wanted the acknowledgement of what he’d done, and for him to admit it was wrong. She would listen to it. She would acknowledge it. And she could not even get that.

I’ve said before that people are often uncomfortable when I discuss rape culture. They should be. I am. It’s wrong. We should all be uncomfortable about rape it until it is erased.

In my Covencraft novels, my lead character, Jade, is a sexual assault survivor. Book 4 deals with her assault a lot more than any other book. I didn’t want to focus on the actual act of the assault or the violence of it, because I find that often happens in modern media. It’s only for the shock value. The immediacy of the violence. Instead, I hope I’ve conveyed what we don’t usually see in media – the aftermath. The media shows us the trial [if there was one],  the articles and the outrage, and the shock and horror. But there is still life afterward and each person approaches it differently (note, my book deals with a female protag, but I do not mean to exclude male victims of rape). My character Jade has an intimately related character, Lily, and while they both experienced the same thing, they process/deal with it differently. Each day afterward, each week, each month, each year, are individual experiences and no one is more real or authentic than the other.

I’m tired of seeing stories in entertainment media about rape that have no aftermath. I’m tired of reading about campus rapes, date rapes, other rapes where the media drops the story after the trial as if that were the end of it. I’m tired of seeing rape used as a plot device for a character, but most especially as motivation for a male character [as in, my significant other was raped, I must now go forth on my quest of vengeance and justice and nevermind MY SIGNIFICANT OTHER because I am the wronged party here!]. There are stories to be told in the aftermath. Survival stories, struggling stories, heartfelt stories of distrust, disillusionment and recovery. Or maybe not. Maybe there is no recovery. Maybe there is a victim that never feels like a survivor.  Someone who does not or cannot live with their assault. That story is worthy of being told as well. That story has value and merit; it is real and to never tell it, is to dishonor it.

Rape happens. Until we significantly shift and change our society, it will continue to happen. I don’t want it to be the end-all be-all of the narrative. I want to know what happens after. I want to know the victim as MORE THAN A VICTIM. I want to know her story. I want us to keep talking about it. We cannot fix what we will not talk about.