By Brittney M. Walker
I had been raped.
Why did men easily use that word? Why were they so quick to apologize about it? They didn't do it. But why were women so brash? Why did they seem so dispassionate? Why did many of them blame me for what had happened. "Be careful out there, it's best not to use drugs." Passive aggressive chastisement. I knew I was ingesting something that would reduce my inhibitions. I also knew I could trust him.Why didn't these women get angry with him instead of placing their Bible judgment on me? Why didn't they see him as the culprit, the predator, instead of seeing me as the irresponsible, straying lamb in need of an unpleasant reality check? "I hope you learned from this," is what some woman wrote in a message. Others implied it.
I didn't feel supported, not that I was looking for it. I felt that if I actually needed this community for help, I wouldn't get it. But the men were the ones to rise to the occasion, offer their shoulders, their condolences. Some close friends who happen to be mothers and in their 40s also offered their emotional shelter... and violence (lol). But generally, there was a sense of shame most women exuded.
An old friend who I've had very little contact with for years, read the post then contacted me. It was a little weird and so was the conversation. But something she wrote in our text exchange prompted me to learn a bit about rape culture. It's generally women that say things like, "She was asking for it with that mini skirt." It's women that often blame the female victims in rape cases.
How sad, I thought. There are movements around equal rights, around feminine power, around gender equality. But somewhere along the way, the piece about eradicating victim blaming got lost.
I can vividly remember when the women who claimed Bill Cosby drugged and raped them. I can relate to this now. I remember some of the reactions, even my own, about this.
"Why did they wait so long to say something?" "Why didn't they report him to the police then?" "They knew how to get ahead in that industry."
While I still have my own feelings about that Cosby situation, the comments about these women resonate on a new level for me. Many women don't take women seriously. Many women don't believe other women. I think we've grown cold toward one another. And we don't demand through our actions and conversations, that predators be held accountable for their violent behavior toward women.
During the 2017 presidential election, I remember asking a Black woman once why she is voting for Trump. "I don't trust a woman in the white house."
There's some disconnect among us. Along the way of progress, white feminism, Black Lives Matter, and religion, we're not growing in an area that could really catapult us into a space of healing and into a space of advancement as a group.
If we can't trust each other, support each other while we go through trauma, I think our growth will continue to be segmented into spaces that mostly look like female versions of the very system that oppresses women. We congratulate each other publicly for making boss moves in male dominated industries, for example. There is space and time for that.
But when it comes to areas of emotional sanctity or areas that notoriously deal with mental wellbeing, there's a firm stiff-arm at the ready among a large group of women. We say things like, "It's not that serious," "Serves her right," "She must have done something to provoke him."
I'm not saying women should side with anyone. But I am saying there is a level of accountability and support we need to have for the people involved. That doesn't mean chastisement or even a violent reaction (though sometimes it sounds like a good tactic). But we all need a little support, help, and healing.
Even for the man in my case, I don't plan to ‘take his ass out' or report him to the police. But I think there's something wrong with his outlook that he is unable to acknowledge his culpability. He needs help. His sons need coaching, taught what rape is and what it means to respect boundaries.
I need help. I need support. I need healing.
In matters of rape, physical, mental, and emotional violation (they're all wrapped up in the same trauma), I hope that there will be a greater outpouring of love and support for people who deal with this. I still think this area of violation is taboo. Most rape victims feel too much shame and intimidation to come out and say something. I read that most rapes go unreported for these reasons. Many women have been let down by their support systems and the justice system. They share what happened to them and nothing is done. Many times they're blamed.
I think we're evolved enough to begin to talk about and deal with rape differently. If we can talk about religion and politics around the dinner table, we can talk about rape. If we can still two step to R. Kelly at family BBQs (you know who you are), then we can talk about rape. If we can talk about the president’s toddler-like fits in foreign relation meetings, we can talk about rape. We need to talk about rape. As a matter of fact, someone you know has been raped. One in six women (https://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem) have been sexually violated. Why should she have to deal with that on her own?
It's time for progress. Victim blaming is so last decade.
Do you blame the victim?
Brittney M. Walker is a journalist based out of New York. She writes on social justice issues within the Black community, travel, business, and a few other topics. These days she’s focusing on holistic living through experiences and storytelling via her blog, Unapologetically Brittney M. Walker.