Brett Kavanaugh and the Proliferation of Rape Culture

I learned last week that Brett Kavanaugh is going to be voted into the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

I felt sick.

Picking my wife up from the airport, we briefly discussed it, and I had a minor revelation as to the importance of this controversial decision. My wife wondered aloud if teen boys would see this confirmation on TV, and think to themselves that it is totally okay to sexually abuse women without repercussion.

I think the damage is far more subtle, and far more wide-reaching, than a few kids watching it on television. I don’t think there are very many teenage boys who have the self-reflection to consciously – or even subconsciously – think this gives them the go-ahead to rape women. I think ‘those’ boys will try it anyway, and unfortunately, they’ll – for the most part – get away with it.

No – I think the deeper problem is the judicial bias against women reporting sexual abuse in the first place. The precedent here is that women are not to be listened to, not to be believed, and that they are to be held wholly responsible for whatever heinous acts are committed against them. Our own president openly mocked Dr. Ford, claiming that her inability to clearly remember the events indicated they were largely fabricated.

There are countless statistics indicating that rape is already grossly underreported in the United States. According to a DoJ study in 2014, 66% of rapes go unreported, and women who are frequently assaulted are less likely to report than women who have never experienced sexual assault at all. And 1/4 of all women will be raped at some point in their life.

These are numbers that are utterly unacceptable – and appointing Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is – literally – making it okay. What is the likelihood that Brett Kavanaugh will rule for the condemnation of a rapist, were the case to be brought to him and his peers? What are the odds that he would side with the rapist – perhaps suggesting that the woman ‘had it coming’, or ‘asked for it’?

The problem here is not that there are a few young men who will think it’s okay; the problem is that there are tens of millions of women who have just been told that they might as well suck it up and take it. Tens of millions of women who for decades have been turned away and dismissed, and who have now been told that at the absolute highest level of law in the country that this is what to expect.

There are a great number of men who will never understand the trauma of sexual assault. There are men who absolutely cannot comprehend that non-consensual sex leaves indelible scars in the psyche of the victim. There are, as sad as it is, men who believe they are the victim for having been caught. Men who will defend to the death that they did nothing wrong, all the while knowing that they used their privilege and their strength to take forcefully what they wanted.

So yes – I am sickened that a man like Brett Kavanaugh is now one of the supreme lawmakers of this country. I am sickened that he was even considered. And I am sickened that the testimony of a victim was considered by the highest powers of our country to be worthless, attention-seeking lies.

Is there are fix to this? Sadly, it may require women to continue to report their assaults. Because so long as men refuse to believe them, women will need to persist, to fight, and to show that they are as worthy of trust as anyone. So long as men continue to be taught that there are no consequences to their actions, women will need to defend and protect themselves.

And so long as women are raped, men will continue to to think that sex is their right.

It isn’t. No more than owning humans is a right, sexual contact is something that must be consensual. And if it isn’t – at any point – then the person forcing themselves on the other must be held accountable.

Dr. Ford – I’m sorry. I’m sorry we didn’t listen. I’m sorry that a few despicable men overpowered you – both then and now. It isn’t right. But thank you for speaking up. You gave a voice to millions who’ve been silenced for generations.

It’s time for those voices to be heard.

Not Your Typical Weekday Post

I was going to try and think of something quirky and wit-filled to serve as my mid-week post. I enjoy wryness, and as I don’t always have a place for this in my fiction, I like to vent it in these little snippets. I hope I’ve at least brought a twitch to the corner of someone’s mouth.

To be honest, it’s kind of hard to think of something new each week that could be written of in a light manner. I don’t particularly follow topical news, so satire is out of the question. Between my work and writing I don’t get out much, and other than what I read or watch on TV I don’t get the chance to experience a whole wide range of novelty all that often.

Which is all a bit relieving, in a way, because last week I discovered something that I could neither ignore, nor make light of. It was really quite surprising, actually – it came of the back of a hit, a like and a follow on both Satis and The Redemption of Erâth. The person who showed me the consideration of reading (and liking!) my work is a fellow WordPress blogger, and I was struck by their tale.

If I’m being honest, I feel a little tentative about sharing this; I wouldn’t want this person to think I’m trying to send hits their way out of a sense of false sympathy. Don’t misunderstand me; I am deeply disturbed by the experiences they relate, and wish them the best of luck in their continued life. Yet I do not know this person, and would not wish to insult them with pretense. Their writing is strong, and the reality behind it bites. I would have it shared for that, I think.

Sometimes, though, there is material that reaches down your throat and claws at your gut. Words that won’t let go. And the material is the second reason I feel compelled to share this as well. I try to avoid most forms of sexuality in my writing – in what interests me and what I am working on, it has no place. My other story – you know, the one – will take this to a tragic end. Were this the subject of just one of this person’s posts, I would leave it as it is.

But it is not, and this is third reason. This writer has taken a great deal of time and effort to create their blog, and its theme is rather unmistakable. My hope is that the author of this blog will understand the reasons for which I want to share their work. I cannot say I enjoyed it, but I am glad to have found their writing, and will look forward to reading more as it comes. Please take a moment to check it out:

My Body the City: The Secret Life of a Manhattan Call Girl

Best of luck to you, Stella.