This post has been brewing in me the last couple of days. It was something that I wanted to write, but at the same time, I wanted to bury into the recesses of my brain as it was too horrifying to really deal with.
The other day I was finally made aware of the ordeal of the Stanford rape case thanks to stumbling upon an article about the victim’s open letter that she read in court. Here is a link, but I must warn you, it is a hard thing to read. I finished the letter feeling a range of emotions from sadness, outrage, to fear, to disappointment and even shame. Nothing I can say can describe that letter and its message in any way other than to say it is one of the most important statements in our time.
Now I know that my voice is going to be deluded into the mass of thousands, millions, of people who all have similar reactions to it to me. Only one voice in this situation matters anyway: the victim’s. And she spoke beyond volumes.
I’ve been left wondering if I am going to encounter this scenario in my life. Will my son grow up and be the friend of a rapist? Worse, will he know a victim? Even worse, will he be a rapist? How on Earth can I respond to any of this? Even though my son is not even 10 yet, I fear that any of these are real possibilities, particularly in the victim area for the short term.
Reading the father’s statement of the rapist, it astonished me. How does that man go home and talk to his wife and say that it was ok that their son raped a girl? Or that it wasn’t really rape? Does he try to convince his own mother too? Does he have a sister? If something this horrible happened to them would he be able to shrug his shoulders in the same way? Would he tell them: “well, you shouldn’t have been drinking.” Or “you shouldn’t have dressed or acted so provocatively.”
I fear that the answer to those last questions would be yes.
There is a severe disconnect between the actions these men commit and the responsibility that they take for them. When something great happens, they will slather themselves with praise and adoration willing to point out “look what I did!”
Rape, assault a girl, and then it’s “oh well, boys will be boys.” Or it’s “she shouldn’t have been drinking.” Or “you know she enjoyed it. She was basically begging me. Did you see the way she was dressed!”
Say anything to deflect responsibility away from them. There’s always something else to blame if they do something wrong.
Maybe it’s human nature. But again that is an excuse!
I find myself trying to explain away doing something wrong. There’s a myriad of excuses I pull in to excuse my failings. In the end, it is me. I did something wrong. I am in control of how I respond to a situation. Even if I am drunk, I have to understand that it was me all along. It seems that these people just never get that last part. And that is more frightening.
For too long this culture, humanity even, has subsisted on the rule of man over woman. Some cultures and times in our history it was more overt. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as prevalent now as it was then. Just because we finally have a presumptive nominee for President doesn’t mean for a fucking second that we’re all good with how we treat women now. Just like because Barrack Obama is President, it didn’t make a shit’s difference in race relations. Maybe we’re a little better than we were before, but nothing really changed. People are not genuinely different.
The Stanford rape case exemplifies how not different, how not better we are.
And I ask myself, what can I do to change that?
The only thing I can do is to try and teach my son to be different. But how do I do that?
How do I teach my son to see past all of this horror and to treat people with respect? How do I teach him that although his mother and father try to give him the world, there is no one else that he should ever expect to be handed anything? How do I teach him to be responsible for everything, that he is in control of the actions he takes, no matter the circumstances? How do I teach him that his actions are what define him?
Maybe if I can teach him better, there’ll at least be one less evil in this society. What if we all strove for that?