Hey readers and happy Thursday! I hope you enjoyed Tuesday’s reflection on Martin Luther King Jr., his mission and lasting impressions.
This morning, my journal prompt (get the same journal here) told me to list the hobbies and passions that make me the happiest. After writing down things like: reading, beach days, time with friends, etc. I stopped to think about my deeper, more self-representing passions. The first one that came to mind was women rights. Here is why:
Please note: these words may be triggering to survivors of sexual violence.
One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. And, let’s be real, that is only what we know from the data actually turned into the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. How many more of those attacks went unreported?
This past weekend, I was in Tampa, Florida, for my birthday weekend with the best friends a girl can have. Naturally, we hit the ground running—making Tampa one of us…crazy.
Let me pause. Right. There.
Allow me to explain. When girls get together, they do fun, girl things. This does not include pillow fights in our underwear, necessarily, but living life to the fullest when we are together. Especially into adulthood, time with friends becomes that much more precious. So, yes, we were drinking.
That is my, personal, number one pet-peeve surrounding sexual assault and how easily so many people get off for what they did to another individual. “Alcohol (or drugs) was involved.”
There is a common misconception that consent is consent as long as the word “yes,” has been said out loud. Incorrect.
Now, unfortunately, things get tricky here because the legal definition of consent is different depending on each state’s law.
*hyperlink included if you want to see your state’s legal definition*
That is the sad part, in my opinion, about a lot of issues involving women’s rights. They continuously “vary by state.” And, yes, men can be victim to rape just as a women can but, let’s not ignore the fact that 90% of adult rape victims are female.
Consent, regardless of state, though, is generally understood as: an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent is about communication. Consent cannot be given if someone is:
Refusing to acknowledge “no”
A partner who is disengaged, nonresponsive, or visibly upset
Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more
Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state
Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past
While in Tampa, three of my friends and I ended up going to a strip-club. This was only my second experience at one and it was not exactly enjoyable for me. Things felt weird—full frontal nudity, private rooms separated by dingy curtains and neon lights dancing alongside the women on the poles.
My first experience seemed more “upscale,” where the dancers had bedazzled thongs on, at least. This time, though, I was wearing a birthday sash, staring at dozens of women wearing just their birthday suits.
A weird complex came over me during both of my visits to the strip-club. I felt sorry for the women, but I also felt empowered by them. They looked to society and said fuck you and are making their money, doing their thing. The other part of me, though, knows deep down that none of them want “Earl” and his group-of-regulars actually touching their bare bodies.
I tell this story because it is fresh on my mind, but also, because I just want to call awareness to women and how they are treated as a whole.
I think we could be better about it as a society and, as a woman who has been cat-called, groped and made uncomfortable numerous times while out in public; I know we could be better about it. So no, I am not sitting her shaming strippers, nor people who visit strip-clubs. Obviously, I would be quite hypocritical if that were the case.
What I mean to say is this:
Put yourself in a woman’s shoes next time you are out at a bar, club, restaurant, mall, wherever. It is cliché, but if you see something, say something. Read her eyes to see if she is actually comfortable with someone touching her. Is she fidgeting with her hands? Has she been drinking? Could someone use her clothing as an excuse to touch her inappropriately?
This goes for all of us. Men, women, trans-men and trans-women. These statistics are only as high as we allow them to be. To “see something” and “say something,” could be as simple as pulling someone aside and asking, nonchalantly, “hey, I may be mistaken but you looked a little uncomfortable and I just wanted to make sure you were okay?”
Doing something like that could be all the difference needed to change these horrifying percentages.
If you have been a victim of sexual abuse and need to talk to someone, a 24/7 confidential hotline is available at 800-656-4673
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