The Only Thing I’m Asking for Is Respect

Even though this is a new blog, I’m immediately bringing out the big guns. After finishing All the Rage by Courtney Summers, I felt inspired. Coincidentally, International Women’s Day just passed as well, so there’s no better time to address this issue.

In All The Rage, Romy is sexually assaulted by the most popular guy in town. Everyone loves him, he’s the son of the sheriff and can do no wrong. The novel deals with the aftermath of her rape, how she works through the trauma while no one believes what happened to her. It’s hard to read through because of its dark honesty, Summers holds no punches. This book is very important, because it shows that rape culture is not a joke. It’s the reason why many woman and men don’t come forward after they were assaulted. Somehow, the way we, as a society, deal with rape, it’s as if the victim is responsible for the rapist’s actions. In this story Romy works up to forgiving herself, something she should never have to do, for lying, for holding in the truth, for not fighting back hard enough. But it is also about working through her trauma, and learning to live with what happened to her.

Slut-shaming is a concept tightly woven into that of Rape Culture. It’s this idea that a woman who enjoys any kind of sexual activity or is very sexually active can be summed up in one word slut, from then on that becomes her only worth, i.e. she’s always good for a lay. Even when a woman dresses provocatively, she can be branded. One of the most common questions a rape survivor is asked is What were you wearing? As if the amount of clothes someone has on automatically provides the perpetrator with some kind of justification. The sexual assault is rationalized and offenders get off easy, this is called victim-blaming. For some inexplicable reason the fault lies, not with the rapist, but with the survivor of rape, because they were asking for it. How fucked up does a community need to be to blame someone for being sexually assaulted? Honestly? It makes me want to scream bloody murder.

rosea-posey“Judgments” by Rosea Posey

Even in my own life, when I’m picking out clothes for example, I question my choices. For the longest time, I didn’t want to wear low-cut tops, because I didn’t want to show too much cleavage. Nowadays, when I want to feel sexy for myself I will put on clothes that make me feel that way, and I will stress this again I wear sexy clothing to make me feel sexy. It is for me. I changed my way of thinking, because this is learned behavior. Society taught me to cover up my skin. I can’t remember if it was ever said to me explicitly, but when we were in school, one of my best friends had to change out of her shorts once, because they were too short. The implicit reason? “It would distract the boys”. Society teaches girls to cover themselves up so that boys would be able to control themselves. Why don’t we teach boys to control themselves no matter what situation? Boys will be boys? Hell no! Boys will be taught how to respect other human beings.

I’m tired of choosing not to wear a specific kind of t-shirt or dress. Because yes, I still catch myself going for the safer option. The option that will keep me invisible when I’m trying to have fun with my friends. I work to rewire myself every day. To fix what has been ingrained in me since I was young. I’m waiting for a world that starts teaching respect at day 1.

 

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