No More Free Passes For Rapists
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Voltaire
Twitter provides a convenient, expense-free platform for sharing information with the world. With that exposure, and freedom often comes minimal regulation or personal restraint. Recently my traipsing around Twitter brought me to the repugnant page of a confused young male making light of the experiences of young ladies who were previously the victim of sexual violence. Most grotesque was his army of followers enabling this behavior.
When it comes to encouraging rape or promoting rape culture, I draw a line. Thus, my virtuousness with regard to liberty will never be on par with Enlightenment Thinker, Voltaire. For with this great protection of speech, comes an equally great responsibility.
Speech is a fundamental right in America. Does that mean we should encourage poor decision-making? Simply having a right, does not make ones actions right. Our understanding of the suffering of victims has become so depraved that “men’s rights” (whatever that means) activists are emboldened to brag of conquests involving non-consenting sexual partners who were under the influence.
Reacting with outrage in solidarity of victims will not suffice - the laws governing the investigation of sexual assault must change! No victim should ever feel discouraged from seeking a legal remedy following an attack. Sadly that is too often the reality. That misguided male and his equally predatorily minded followers sparked an intriguing discussion prompting the following question: When is rape, rape? Several misnomers surfaced in response that need clarification:
• First, contrary to the twisted logic of predators, just because your victim “came on” to you, does not create an exemption – it’s still rape.
• Second, the fact that your victim was irresponsible with alcohol consumption, also, does not create an exemption – it’s still rape.
• Lastly, when your victim expresses disinterest in continuing a sexual encounter after it commences, that does not authorize you to force your victim to finish when you are satisfied – that is most definitely rape.
Now, if this brief list seems overly restrictive or burdensome to anyone, I have two words for you: Seek help. Well, here are a few more: Seriously, get help now, before you ruin someone’s life and end up in handcuffs. For many victims, being raped is akin to death. Suffering from advanced stress, nightmares, or even anxiety, resulting from the attack is not uncommon. Society was lulled into a sexual violence apathetic coma pre Bill Cosby Quaaludes revelations. Our penchant for sexual assault has long been documented and lamented, but mainly overlooked till Cosby’s court records were made available to the public. High profile figures should not be the sole driving force for national discussions. College students for decades have bemoaned inadequate protection for sexual violence, only to have their stories silenced in efforts to protect the image of the institution.
Despite how legitimate and concerning rape is on college campuses, only ONE state seems to care. The state legislature in California made the Golden State the first and only state to pass a contemporary sexual assault statute. Let that sink in. Not till 2014, did a state pass an affirmative sexual consent statute. ONE state, one state willing to act to stem the tide of unchecked sexual violence on college campuses. Despite its many critics, California's new ‘Yes Means Yes’ law was a brilliant display of well-intentioned lawmakers contributing to formulate a solution rather than muster endless excuses.
Our federal government on the other hand, has promulgated a system, commonly referred to as “justice,” that has eliminated viable legal remedies for rape victims. What results from these injustices? Less victims coming forward, perpetual offenders given free passes to rape and terrorize new victims, contraction and spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Worst of all: re-victimization of whomever possessed the courage to disclose the details of their attack.
Callous investigating officers, too often ignore or dismiss the charges pressed by rape victims. False reporting by certain media outlets and failure to prosecute high-profile accused rapists has created a nation of skeptics. Officers involved have an obligation to the public. At minimum they must provide an environment that encourages victims to come forward in order to ensure that justice is served.
Want to learn how to appreciate the courage of rape victims? It’s simple: listen, empathize, and allow humanity to direct your path to believing and ultimately helping to find a solution. It’s on us. Hints of rape culture exist all around us, if we intend to put an end to sexual violence, we must be swift and diligent with issuing our ridicule.