11 June 2016
This has to stop.
When will NO finally mean NO?
When will we, men in particular, finally stand up and say, "This has got to stop."
These are just some of the questions I've been pondering in the wake of the horrific Stanford rape case. This case has drawn, and rightfully so, a harsh and unforgiving light on just how far we have gone off the rails in terms of our humanity. It has lain bare the hideous rape culture that exists in our nation. It has further exposed a pulsating vein of racism and misogyny that has existed in our country for far too long. It has to stop.
Our rape culture has got to stop. #TheStanfordRapist took no responsibility for his crime, blaming it instead on alcohol and promiscuity. I'm curious to know who put the gun to his head and forced him to drink that night. I'm curious to know who put the gun to his head and forced him to rape that unconscious woman. But the culture of rape allowed him to take no responsibility. His father, in defending his son, talked about the crime his son committed as an "action" which would have lifelong consequences for his son. Again, thanks to the culture of rape, the father never mentioned the victim nor what she will deal with for the rest of her lie. As Pastor John Pavlovitz wrote in his brilliant response to the father of #TheStanfordRapist, "There is no scenario where your son should be the sympathetic figure here. He is the assailant. He is the rapist." When are we going to stop with this foolishness of the accused being the sympathetic one?
The one for whom sympathy should have been abundant, the victim, was instead blamed for what happened to her. Much like Pavolovitz' statement that there is no scenario where the rapist is the sympathetic one, there is not.one.single.scenario where a woman is to blame for being raped. Not one. Yet, victims of rape are forced time and again to justify why they shouldn't have been raped. A woman should never fear that reporting a rape will get her tossed out of her university. My own alma mater has a long way to go to repair the damage done there. Is it any wonder why this heinous crime is so underreported? Who would want to sit in front of a jury and have to explain why your actions, like walking to your car alone, weren't the reason why a man was compelled to rape you? It is insanity. How is it that we have accepted for far too long that woman is not always the victim?
The judge in this miscarriage of justice clearly forgot that #TheStanfordRapist was not the victim. He saw a privileged white young man who got carried away after an evening of drinking. Had it been a man of color, it would have been a far different outcome. Across our country, young men of color accused of similar crimes are doing life sentences. #TheStanford Rapist will do six months prison time. He should be doing years. When will we stop ignoring the blatant racism that infects our judicial system?
Our judicial system failed the victim of #TheStanfordRapist in epic ways. That failure is a reflection of the misogyny that is rife in our country. When the Republican nominee for President, who in addition to his unbridled bigotry, racism, and incessant lying, is an open misogynist, with inexplicable support from some women, can verbally assault women without recrimination, our tolerance of misogyny is an irrefutable, disgusting fact.
If nothing else, the horror of #TheStanfordRapist may be the turning point for us as a nation. It may be a slow pivot, but it feels like it's finally enough. NO meant NO yesterday, today, and forever. I have so many women in my life - starting with my wife, my two daughters, and an eight month old granddaughter. What an amazing thing it would be if she could grow up knowing rape culture was not a thing and that misogyny was a thing of the past.
If that's going to happen, it's time to put an end to it - the culture of rape, the misogyny. It is time that we stand up and say, "This has got to stop." We just can't say it. There's got to be action. Take action in your family, your community, your sphere of influence. Make it stop. Women deserve it. Humanity deserves it. Make it stop.