Dealing with Rape Culture as a Woman… With Women

By Brittney M. Walker

Sharing my cannabis-Cosby experience was a bit liberating, I must admit. Before actually releasing the piece, I thought long and hard about the consequences. I grappled with the idea of not being able to get hired one day at some 9 to 5 or being emotionally or verbally assaulted by family members and others. I dealt with the idea of being alienated and I also dealt with the responsibility of continuing to share my experiences publicly. Despite all the prep, there were a few reactions I was not expecting and caught me a bit by surprise, particularly the reactions from women.

If you go through the Facebook commentary, you might see where I could have been surprised. Some private messages and phone calls were also quite interesting.

Overall, I’ve been sitting with these women’s reactions to this rape situation, as some of them could only laugh at it, yet they were failing to recognize or acknowledge the real issue here. I was criticized and cautioned to ‘watch out’ and ‘be careful.’ These comments assumed that I was being diligent enough.

But what about the man in the situation? Obviously I trusted the man and felt comfortable enough to have this experience with him. I thought I was ‘careful’ and ‘watching out.’ But still, I am the one who failed, apparently. What should have been different on my end?

“Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Studies show that approximately 80%-90% of women reporting sexual assaults knew their assailant.”

In fact, one comment (see below) said I can’t blame the man in the situation for his actions(!). Why not, I wanted to ask. 

The other thing I was surprised about was the unfettered support from men. Most asked me if I was okay and acknowledged that this was easily a violation. A friend of mine, who is also my frat, told me a while back that he never engages in sexual behavior with a woman who is or may appear to be intoxicated because he understands the risks involved. Plus, who wants to have sex with someone who won’t remember the experience? He sent me a text and he said it first, “so essentially… your ‘friend’ raped you.”

I was still uncomfortable with using that term as if me using ‘rape’ for my situation invalidated the pain, violence, and repeated violations others have experienced.

“Rape is defined as unwanted penetration, whether that is oral, anal, or vaginal.” 

But yes, it was rape. He, a friend, a brother, called it what it was, validating my experience, giving me space to acknowledge that I was raped and that situation was wrong.

But I generally didn’t receive that comfort, support, or platform from my sisters. In fact, another friend of mine I haven’t spoken to in many years hit me up via text to chat about the post. In our conversation, she mentioned to me something that also surprised me. She said that in her work, she found that most women blame the victim in cases of rape and sexual assault.

I was baffled. Still am. How is it that many women want others, men, or their partners, to abide by certain rules but don’t want to hold them accountable for what they do? And then blame the women who suffer the consequences?

That shit people say like, “Well she was asking for it” or “She knew the risk she took when she walked outside the house looking like that” or “She shouldn’t have taken that drug” simply negate the responsibility of the assailant and place blame on he women/victims in the situations.

“When intoxicated, an individual cannot legally consent to sexual activity. Forcing sex on someone who is too drunk to give consent is still Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree. Rape is a serious offense, and people who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not considered free from guilt.”

This isn’t love or support or teaching lessons or healing. It’s reinforcing the crime, the violations said victims are experiencing, thus perpetuating a shitty fucked up cycle that ends with 1 in 6 women being sexual assault victims in America.

While my case was aided with cannabis, many people who are violated play ‘safe.’ And even when drugs or alcohol or skimpy clothes or nudity are in the equation, it’s the assailants that were given passes that empowered them to force their will on another person.

When we talk about sisterhood, I hope at some point we can truly support each other in our healing in a way that is helpful, loving and peaceful.

I also hope we can change the way we deal with rape and sexual assault as a community.

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