I don’t personally know the beautifully strong survivor of the recent Stanford sexual assault case, but we all know her. I don’t personally know the “All-American, all-star athlete” perpetrator, but we all know him.
When I caught wind of the horrific injustice surrounding this case, I was immediately saddened. angered and frustrated. Why? I don’t know the victim personally, I don’t know the offender personally, so why am I acting so emotionally close to this situation?
Because she is your sister, your best friend, a classmate. And he is your brother, your best friend, a classmate, an athlete, a friendly neighborhood boy who couldn’t possibly, (hold your breath) rape someone.
Now many of you are saying we should stop talking about him, stop giving him the publicity, and I see your point, to an extent. But the minute we stop talking about the friend that invited you to a party where it all went wrong, about your next door neighbor you grew up with who suddenly took advantage of you, about the popular, highly-favored “perfect gentleman” who’s remorse extends only as far as an “I don’t want this to get out…” message the next morning is the minute we neglect to acknowledge that not all rapists are scary strangers or monsters who lurk in places we have been taught to avoid. More often than not, sexual assault is committed by people we know, people we trust, people society has deemed “All-American”.
If you have yet to read the powerful statement *trigger warning* given by the victim, I suggest you do so here:
It is absolutely breath-taking and mind-numbing. There is nothing in the world that will ever take away the images and feelings surrounding this tragedy that are surely seared into her brain, but I hope the outpouring of support from people around the world partnered with time, dulls the edge.
I am not going to jump into the gross injustice that is our judicial system because I cannot even fathom the right words to capture how I feel about the offender’s lack of sentencing.
What I do want to end on, however, is this:
I have seen an abundance of support and sharing of this situation on my facebook timeline, and in my twitter feed, and it it encouraging to know that some of my friends are so aware of the seriousness of sexual assault– but– the overwhelming majority of people interacting with me on this topic are women. Thank you to the few of my guy friends who have commented, shared, liked, given input, but to the rest of you, where are you?
I am not trying to turn this into a gender war, especially since sexual assault can be committed by anyone. However, I can’t ignore the very blatant trend that I saw. One of my friends mentioned that it is not a comfortable topic for guys to discuss, but I ask you, do you think it’s comfortable for women? Do you really think it was easy for the Stanford victim to recount how she woke up that morning and be told by the news of her terrifying experience? Do you really think it is easy for a girl to admit to her friends that she was sexually assaulted at that party last night by someone they all know?
It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable, but it’s important. That girl is your sister, she’s your friend. You may not feel comfortable talking about it, but you should have the courage to stand up for what is right. I know it’s not a social norm for guys to openly discuss things like sexual assault, but look where social norm has gotten us. This is your call to action.
To all victims and survivors of sexual assault, I am with you, we are with you.