Women live by what has been termed a rape schedule. We try to go out during daylight hours. If we must go out at night, we worry about whether or not we're in a public place, with lighting, walk with our keys in our hands, ask for assistance to our cars, always aware that we are a target to some simply by being.* When a woman mentions this necessity in a public space, we're told we're sexist and wrong for thinking that way, that not all men are rapists. It matters not at all if we say that we don't think all men are rapists but it only takes one in any crowd; we're all too often shouted down as man-bashing , hirsute lesbians who need a good fucking to show us the right way. Without going deeply into the irony of a rape threat to prove that all men aren't rapists, what are women to do? If we don't protect ourselves and gods forbid something does happen, the first questions asked will be "What was she doing there at that time of night? Wearing that? Did she fight back? Hard enough?" It's a losing proposition from the start. The impact of this is that women shut up. We don't talk about the precautions required just for being female in public. We don't talk about our rapes so we won't be blamed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person. We just get used to being quiet.
Our quietness allows for society to go on doing what they've always done, making jokes about rape, wife beating**, dismembering. We laugh it off. After all, we don't want to be thought of as humorless, right? We don't want to be That Woman who is always going on about how things aren't funny.
There is very little countering voice for the messages being sent about women, women's place in the world, women's bodies and who exactly owns them. Feminism is easily vilified as a fringe group of dissatisfied women indulging in sour grapes. And the impact of that? This:
MARIETTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Three boys, ages 8 and 9, were charged Monday with raping an 11-year-old girl last week, court officials and police said.Yes, that is a cheap appeal to emotion, a "what about the children?!!!??" argument. Know why? They work. In this case, it's even true. These kids got the messages that we send them. They know what we're saying and they process it in a very straightforward manner. They can do what they want because she's just a girl. Who can deny this is a sign of serious misogyny and sickness with regard to women and sexuality? Why, this guy, of course:
"Never in my 20-plus years of law enforcement have I conceived of something like this," Police Chief Michael Wilkie of Acworth, Georgia, told CNN.
Clad in blue jumpsuits, the two 9-year-olds and one 8-year-old appeared in court in Cobb County, north of Atlanta, on Monday afternoon and were ordered to remain in custody until a further hearing. Family members were in court for their appearance, which was closed to reporters.
Yes, you did just see a grown man call an 11 yr old rape victim a lying slut. That'll teach her (and by extension all women) to shut up, right? If an 11 year old child can't receive compassion, if even an 11 yr old is subject to the Whore Treatment, what chance for any of the rest of us to receive justice, whether for rape or assault or any other form of violence against us? I guess we should just stay in our "place" right?
But the father of one of the boys told WGCL-TV that the girl made up the rape allegations to cover her own behavior.
"She's trying to cover her own butt by getting everyone else in more serious trouble," the station's Web site quotes the father as saying.
Fuck that. I will not be frightened into silence. I will not be put in what someone else thinks is my place. I will not be quiet. I will yell, holler, scream, argue and make my voice heard, because this is bullshit. Join me, won't you? Don't be quiet. Don't laugh it off. Say it. Speak your truth. Be a voice for this 11 yr old and in doing so, find your own.
*Which, in the end, is more or less useless since most rapes are committed by men that are known to the victim.
**scroll down to Diann Selur's comment on 10/8/07.