It’s Like Beating a Dead Horse

Last week, I wrote about a city councilman who… well… you can catch up here. There are some interesting things that have come up, which I’ll detail with both disgust and sarcasm later on. As well as a further explanation of, not that most level-headed people need it, why what he said was so awful.

The first point is this: there’s nothing the city can do about it. There is no way to remove him from office, or any other corrupt politician in office. This might have been mere oversight, but in 2005 our mayor was in legal trouble for taking bribes and was later convicted. Spoiler: there was nothing that they could do with him except let him finish his term.

You would think, and I could be absolutely wrong and even viewed as unintelligent for thinking this, that they would have said “Well, that was quite the predicament. Maybe we should fix that so we don’t have to deal with it again.” Apparently not. It’s been 15 years and apparently asking for critical thinking skills for local politicians is a big ask here.

But Brianne, why is what he said so bad? Apologists for this city councilman said that he was just saying that women need to be more accountable for their actions that may be contributory to their harassment or assault. Maybe women shouldn’t put themselves in a risky situation.

Where is there a safe spot? Where can I expect not to get raped or harassed? Let me know what this rape-free zone is and what the dress code is, because the other women of the city/country/world and myself would love to know.

Here’s what I do know, as a female. I know that I was told to walk around with keys in my hand, so if I were attacked I could fight back. I know my brother taught me self-defense when I was a teenager, just in case. I know I was given the speeches of going out in groups and never going out by myself. I grew up being told how unsafe the world was for me. I was lectured about my clothing, and how I was showing too much cleavage or my jeans were too tight/too low.

The implications of these lessons were clear: I needed to be careful, be suspicious, and dress like a nun to not get assaulted, while I don’t know any guy that was given any lecture about consent. Why? Maybe it’s because good people just know how not to assault people. The idea that women have some contributory negligence when they get assaulted is disgusting. And if you defend that notion, you are disgusting.

Why is it always on women? Why do we have to think about whether we are going to put on the outfit we will be assaulted in? Why do we have to stay home because we can’t find anyone to grab a drink with? I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just dumb. Maybe I’m naive to think that women just have as much right as men to live our lives how we want to and grab a drink by themselves at the bar because no one else wanted to. I’ve always wanted a daughter, but there’s a part of me that’s relieved that I don’t have to bring her up in a world where if she were assaulted, the first question would be some version of “What did you do to cause this?”

That is why what he said was wrong. Do I think he should apologize? No. Because that would be disingenuous. I have more respect for someone sticking to their guns, as despicable as those guns are, than someone who feigned regret. But I don’t think we should forget about this. I don’t think his constituents should forget about this. And I think this is something that they should be reminded of throughout the year until the November elections, with the hope that they do the right thing of voting him out. The rest of the city should be appalled that someone like this is representing our city. That someone with these outdated and misogynistic ideals not only exists in 2020, but that he’s sitting in a position of power in the city. Someone who blames ignorance of being the only damn person who didn’t know rape and harassment was an issue. Someone who is glad he said what he said because now he is educated that sexual assault is a big deal and thanks to him, everyone now knows what a big deal it is. This great man, who now thanks to him the citizens of our city know that there is a problem and his big idea to solve it is to educate people on how not to harass or assault women. Or to educate women on what to wear or where to go to not get assaulted. Something like that.

It’s almost as if organizations like RAINN exist for a reason. So here’s a brief overview of how serious of a problem this is. All statistics are from RAINN.

  • In America, 1 out 6 women were the victims of completed rape or attempted rape.
  • By 1998, about 17.7 million American women were the victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • 1 out of 10 American men were also victims.

There are a few things that are important to know about these numbers. First of all, there are a lot of situations where these assaults go unreported so these statistics are a lot higher than they are. Why? Because of people like this councilman who want to put some of the blame on women, because they should’ve known better. Because people still view this as something that the victim should be ashamed of. It’s also important to know that not only women are victims, so it isn’t just a bunch of hysterical women trying to take down a guy who is “misunderstood”.

He wanted an education? I just gave him a great resource and important statistics. I don’t expect to change his mind, because people don’t often like to admit their errors or even care about silly things like facts. This isn’t for him. This is for the people of the city who deserve better than what he’s given them.