Why Did You Do That, Robin?

Dear Readers:

Yes, I understand this is Monday, not Friday and therefore Friday Feedback, but I can’t sit on these thoughts until the end of the week.  It’s not simply that I’m bursting to express myself like a new mother stuck in a long meeting, but also that my 45-year-old brain has been incredibly forgetful as of late.  

If I don’t write this down today I’ll lose it into the ether of middle-aged forgetfulness, where it can be reunited with my glasses, my car keys and the reason I exit my office to go downstairs every few hours, only to wonder what the hell I am doing there.

Let’s just dive right in because this is a very touchy subject (ha!) and I’d rather not pussyfoot around before forcing my views on you (double ha!).

In last week’s blog Let’s Talk About Feminism, Rape and Personal Responsibility I made some observations about sexual assault, personal responsibility and revealed some personal history at the end.  That was the most difficult decision I’ve made since beginning this great experiment and since then several people have asked me, “why did you do that?”

Why, indeed?  After all, aren’t I supposed to be ashamed of what happened to me?  

“If that had really happened to you the way you said it did, you wouldn’t have been able to write that and put it out there.  You are one of the reasons women don’t report sexual assault.  Nice job working against your own gender.”

Whew!  That one was from my old friend Anonymous.  He/she proclaims not to care much for me yet hangs on my every word like JC on the cross.

“Aren’t you afraid you will embarrass your family?” asked one person.

“Clearly you don’t read my blog on a regular basis,” I replied.

“The fact you are worried about your son being falsely accused of rape says a lot about how you are raising him.”

Hmmm….

“…let’s face it rape is hard to prove because the other party will often say it was consensual. There are often no witnesses or cell phone videos imagine that.”

Yes, that’s true.

That’s also true for the accused, of course.  It’s a two-way street of ambiguity and finger-pointing with extremely serious consequences on both sides.

While the responses were wide-ranging, the overall reaction to my personal disclosure was

“Why would you do that?”

Here’s why:

Rape is a form of assault.  It happens, and it’s a horrible thing.  While I’m not sold on the statistics bandied about regarding what percentage of rapes go unreported, I can attest that 100% of mine did.

So there’s that.

Why didn’t I report it?  Because of the shame I felt heaped upon me by the prevailing societal norm.  

If I had been mugged and beaten up by my assailant I would have immediately told my parents and gone to the police. We have got to eradicate the “specialness” associated with adult-on-adult sexual assault so that women are no more reluctant and unlikely to report rape than they would any other type of crime against them.  

The only way to do that is for people like me and every other victim to speak up, acknowledge what happened to us, and even (oh lord I am going to get it for this one) consider whether some of our actions made it easier to become a victim.

“Stop blaming the victim, Robin!”

I’m not.  But guess what?  I don’t put on my best jewelry and go walking around alone at night in the toughest neighborhood in town.

If I had a daughter, I would teach her from a young age how to defend herself against all types of assault, including sexual, and that education would most certainly include some basics such as:

  • Buy/pour your own drinks
  • Don’t drink too much
  • Stay with a group of friends
  • Wear an impenetrable modern-day chastity underwear as seen here:

Modern-day-chastity-belt-prevents-rape-AR-Wear

Yep.  This is a thing that’s happening now.

I would also make certain my daughter knows that if she is ever sexually assaulted she has nothing to be ashamed of and that the crime is one that should be reported as would any other crime against her.

As it is, I am raising a son.  

My son is a wonderful, smart, kind young man who has never made an aggressive move against anyone in his lifetime (obviously video games and his multiple kills don’t count).  And to my son I am teaching these rules:

  • Buy/pour your own drinks and nobody else’s
  • Don’t drink too much
  • Stay with a group of friends
  • Never have sex with a girl who has been drinking or doing drugs
  • Carry a consent form and birth control with you at all times
  • Have the consent form signed both before, during, and after intercourse.  Inconvenient, yes.  But it’s nice to have a little pause in the middle of things!

We need to raise boys and girls into men and women who treat themselves and others with respect and don’t put themselves in risky situations that can change their lives in an instant from good to very, very bad.

This is rambling, I know.  I’m not sure where I’m going but it’s Monday morning and my other choice was the unhappy Russian bride.  I’m still chatting with her and not ready to write that one, plus I’m worried I might be getting trolled. We’ll see.

I suppose what I’m saying is this: I am no longer ashamed of what happened to me.  If I can change the paradigm in our society from shame and silence to fearless justice-seeking, my admissions are worth the cost of exposing my past pain.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Colleen

    Robin, thank you for raising awareness about how our society responds to the needs of our children when it comes to sexuality, trust, and openness. If there was less shame about the way we are treated by our cohorts, if we had more honest discussions within our families about violations, these taboo topics could have a chance to come out of the closet. Thank you for this.

  2. TLM

    Hi Robin,

    Let me share this. When I was 16, three other girls and I were kidnapped at gunpoint and our abductor attempted to rape each of us with a gun pointed at our head. We managed to escape the next day, and the cops caught the guy and we went through trial. Eventually he was convicted and spent less than 20 years in jail. In the early 90’s he was set free, and within 24 hours went out and committed the identical crime to another group of girls. At the time, all 4 of us were students at Lincoln High School. We were in the papers (they didn’t use our names, but at school they knew who we all were.) My biggest problem at the time was the persistent assumption by others that we were now all, SURELY, going to be mentally incapacitated, incapable, screwed up human beings who would be incapable of having a normal relationship and family, might not be able to hold down a job, etc. We would be terrified of all men, or turn into whores, or some other extreme version of being forever mentally and emotionally scarred. What a crock of CRAP. All 4 of us reacted to the situation differently, some with more of an emotional journey than others, but we all ended up fine. All of us are college educated, with families and to my knowledge, reasonably normal lives, whatever that means. So I applaud your approach. It is straight forward, honest and not overly dramatic. THANK YOU!

  3. Therese descamp

    Hooray, Robin. Thank you for your honesty. As a member of your (extended) family, the only flinching I did when you told your story was from wishing that you had been able to tell it long ago and get the support you needed.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Jennifer

    I think you and TLM are incredibly brave, and I admire anyone who can go through something like that and still come out a well-adjusted, reasonable human being. One of the reasons I hate the current widespread panic and paranoia about rape is that it seems to be creating Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf scenarios. We’re told that we *must* believe any woman who accuses a man of rape, despite the existence of cases with loads of evidence to the contrary, and guess what happens when reasonable, rational people are told to believe something without question? The exact opposite happens, and actual instances of rape become extremely difficult to believe as well.

    On that note, you might enjoy this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGMi0UtvTIc

  5. winer

    Bravo. Bravo. Bravo.

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