I Wouldn’t Do Anything Differently

Trigger Warning: This post, as well as the posts linked inside it, discusses sexual assault, rape culture, and victim blaming.

I’ve been following some conversations here on Feministe and here at Shakesville about an article to which I will not link directly. The article in question advocates that women not get drunk in order to “have control over” our “side of the equation” when it comes to sexual assault. There are terms for that– namely, victim blaming and rape apology.

While it’s not as simple as man-as-rapist and woman-as-victim, what is simple is this — Rape is not an equation; it’s a fundamental inequality. There are many different choices I could have made the night I was raped. But there is no choice I could have made that would have made my rapist not a rapist. That was never my choice, and it shouldn’t have been my responsibility to carry all these years.

Don’t think I haven’t replayed the situation thousands of times in my head, analyzing and reanalyzing it from every angle. Don’t think I haven’t tried blaming myself. Really, it would have been a lot easier that way. If I’d done something wrong that time, then I could change course. I could fix it for next time.

But here’s the thing: None of my choices hurt anyone else. When talking to people about rape, either personally or in the abstract, there’s often a supposition that I must regret at least some of the decisions I made that night. For me, though, that’s not true. While I would like to alter the outcome, I don’t regret the choices I made that got me there. Because my choices were never the problem.

I went to a party at a friend’s. Parties are good, right? So are friends. I was even sociable and friendly at said party, which, if I am understanding the world correctly, is not an automatic green light into my vagina (and/or other orifices of choice). In the intervening years, I’ve been to parties in less familiar places with people I knew less well — and again, was even sociable and friendly. Some events were good and some bad, but there’s nothing inherent about friends or parties that must lead to violating criminal acts.

I stayed out late. As a legal adult, I’m sort of entitled to define my own bedtime. It wasn’t the first time I’ve stayed out that late, nor was it the latest I’ve stayed out. Generally, the natural consequence that stems from this decision is that I end up very sleepy.

I wore short shorts. And probably a tank top, maybe with spaghetti straps, even. It was summer, and my legs are kind of awesome. Just like every summer before and every summer since, I’ve found shorts incredibly convenient for not steaming inside my own clothes. My parents have been letting my dress myself ever since they discovered I could, and aside from some early unfortunate incidents with matching, that has mostly worked out okay.

I was alone with a man. This is sort of the kicker, the one people think I should regret, where they think I should have known better. In reality, I’ve been alone with many men — friends, family, colleagues, strangers — and the general trend is that they don’t assault me. I suppose, yes, I could never again have a personal relationship that places me alone with another person, but that seems cumbersome at best and something that would lead to an unsatisfying and unhappy life for me. I’ll pass, thanks.

The long and short of it is that I’m not sorry, and I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’m not saying there is no shame or regret to be had from my rape. But the person who should be feeling it — and the person who should have been subjected to so much scrutiny over the years — was never me.

Crescent Moon

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Posted in non-asana, satya, swadyaya
16 comments on “I Wouldn’t Do Anything Differently
  1. “Rape is not an equation; it’s a fundamental inequality.”

    Truth. Thank you for writing this. It’s beautiful and so powerful and so necessary.

  2. Angelos says:

    Perfect. Just perfect.

  3. Tiger Gray says:

    Word. Especially like the bit about how nothing you did would change the fact that your rapist was well, a rapist. That decision was already made ahead of time.

  4. Ruthie Knox says:

    Thanks for this. It’s wonderful and empowering.

  5. tigtog says:

    I’m not saying there is no shame or regret to be had from my rape. But the person who should be feeling it — and the person who should have been subjected to so much scrutiny over the years — was never me.

    Yes, a thousand times yes.

  6. Wookiesgirl says:

    Thank you for posting this. I commend you for speaking your mind. You were NEVER the victim. In my opinion if a woman: dresses provocatively, flirts a lot, kisses many people, drinks too much, sleeps with many different partners or multiples, bares her chest…. (I could go on, but you get the point) That is not a green light for a man to rape her. The victim blamers love to use any of those things, among several others, like breathing next to a man, as the excuse “She asked for it.” I say BULLSHIT to that.

    I love men and know many that are wonderful and respectful and would never harm a woman in the way that you were harmed. But I have to say, I know NO men who have ever felt what it feels like to be closed in an elevator with a strange woman and for a brief second wonder if he’s safe, or any man who worries when he walks to his car late at night after work, if there is someone lurking that may intend him harm. And I am not talking about getting mugged. It’s one of those un-equal things that is a part of humanity. I refuse to shut myself up in a closet or drape my body in a shawl because society can’t check itself. You said it best “it’s a fundamental inequality.”

    Thanks again for the post.
    Wookiesgirl

    • Wookiesgirl says:

      Oh lord, I was so riled up leaving this comment that I made a typo in the very first line.. Its meant to say that “you were NEVER at fault” .. Good lord. Sorry about that.
      WG

  7. Autumn says:

    You are a beautifully moving, natural writer. Thank you for this.

  8. Geo says:

    Your truth is powerful! Thank you – and the prior responders for what you’ve said. I’ve been held up twice at gunpoint – once with minor PTSD afterwards. I can in one sense “understand”, however another part of me will remain stuck in an “intellectual” vision, because I can never fully feel what your gender forces you to (potentially) face every day.

  9. Jessie E. says:

    You are awesome. This entry, and the last were both amazing. The last one gave me goosebumps, and nearly made me cry. (You win the award: First person to make me almost-cry in my new office! )

  10. Christie says:

    I blamed myself for my assault for 20 years. It’s posts like this that have finally got me rethinking it. Maybe it wouldn’t have been me that night if I’d done something differently, but it would have been someone–that night or another. Because he is a predator, and no action of mine made him one.

    Thank you.

  11. Laurie R. says:

    I still have issues blaming myself for my rape. I feel like I shouldn’t have met the guy (it was a date rape situation). Thank you for writing this. You’re right.

  12. nicole says:

    well said!
    (directed over from Deb)

  13. accalmie says:

    Great post – thank you!

  14. westwood says:

    With regards to the short shorts, they have earned a rather disgusting name in popular culture: The upper thigh jean shorts are referred to as “fuck me” shorts, whereas the reaaallly short ones are known as “rape me” shorts.

    Just goes to show how far society has internalized this.

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