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.

The Changing World

After a bit of a break due to focusing on NaNoWriMo (which I barely completed but still came through in the end), I have returned. Thursday’s scheduled blog will tell you all about this new project, which I am really excited about. Now, to today’s post.

The fall of Weinstein over sexual misconduct was a change that needed to happen. Most people know more people (I say “people” purposefully because women are not the only ones who can fall prey to this behavior), who have suffered these types of situations than know people who have never had to deal with it. It is a sad reality that people just accepted. They accepted the fact that their boss leered at them and despite the fact that it gave them the creeps and made them feel uncomfortable. They just accepted that this was never going to change. It wasn’t. It is a completely hopeless feeling to know that people could treat you and do whatever they wanted to you without you having any control over it at all. That changed when Weinstein fell.

Now people are finding courage, men and women, to stand up for themselves. One by one, celebrities that fans adored have fallen from grace because of what their lawyers want to belittle as “indiscretions”. These are not indiscretions; these are purposeful acts that are there to make the perpetrator feel powerful and in control while taking away every ounce of control and self-esteem of their victim. I hate to use the word victim though. Some people who go through these things are not even close to being a victim. They find a way to take the power back and overcome. That is not a victim to me. That is a survivor.

That is what makes this Roy Moore thing so awful to me. In a time when things are starting to change, where women are no longer “just making it up” or “deserve what they got”, he may very well have numerous other people too afraid to come forward (because of the awful political climate) that have fallen prey to his power trip. But yet, “a sexual predator is better than a democrat”. This not only highlights the fact that there are still so many changes that need to be made in the world, but it also highlights the fact that voters only seem to care about the letter next to a person’s name and not their beliefs and integrity. This is scary. What this means is that maybe this is a short burst of a revolution that will only be shot down because there truly is no justice in the world for these people who suffered at the hands of more powerful individuals. This is just a passing trend right now that will take some people down, but in a few months maybe people won’t even care. There will be no #metoo movement to save them. Then victims will go back into hiding, too afraid to stand up for themselves again. I feel nauseated just thinking about it.

Another valid argument for my point? Brock Turner. In case you don’t remember that name, let me refresh your memory. He was the guy who was doing whatever he wanted to an unconscious woman, got caught in the act then stopped by heroes passing by, and ended up serving 3 months out of a 6 month sentence, though the maximum for his crimes were 14 years. It outraged anyone with a conscious. It proved a point of why sexual assault survivors never come forward. Why bother if they will just get their names sullied while never getting any justice? Think Emily Doe got justice when her rapist, who will always torture her in the back of her mind, spent only 3 months in jail because of “good behavior”? Now that I have refreshed your memory, wait to be further outraged by the fact he is trying to get the convictions overturned because he “never actually committed any crime”. He just got an unfair hearing because the prosecutor said that he did it behind a dumpster. Because the location of this horrible act somehow makes it a little less horrible because it was out in the open and not “hidden”. I think that nauseated feeling just got a lot worse.

So are the times changing? Are people who suffered any type of sexual misconduct by others finally going to be able to stand up without feeling any shame? Part of me wants to be hopeful, that this is a good sign in the right direction where rapists get more than a slap on the risk for permanently scarring another human being. That a woman can wear whatever she wants at work without being worried about how people are going to treat her. Where men do not have to silently take it because “only women can be victims”. But the rest of me is too cautious and realistic to accept that this may be a time of change. If it were, politicians would be held to a higher standard than Hollywood producers. They would not be elected into office despite the fact that people know that he may have done it. The allegations alone would warrant an investigation that would make the voters call for him to step down and vote another way. Because the idea that this person, who raped an unconscious woman, still has no remorse for what he did and will put his victim through another trial because “why should his life be ruined for 20 minutes of bad judgement”. It’s disgusting. Instead, it shows me that this is a trend that will go stale soon, leaving some ruins behind in the world. It will be like that scar on your arm when you burned yourself that one Thanksgiving. You never remember it’s there until you notice it on your arm and then you think back to how it got there. Then it gets forgotten again.

Just Dress in More Modest Clothes and You’ll be Fine

Today’s post was originally a light-hearted commentary on things to improve jury duty. It joined the “in case you’re needed” area and was replaced with something more relevant and important: victim shaming. This is a response to the story about Donna Karan saying that women “ask for it”. “The way that they dress, they are asking for trouble.”

The minute I hear those words, my skin crawls. I can’t imagine someone wakes up and says “I think I’ll wear this and I really hope I get sexually harassed or assaulted for it. Boy, that would be fan-freaking-tastic, wouldn’t it?” That is exactly the implication you are making by comments like that. It’s not just insulting; it’s downright vile. Especially coming from a woman who has probably experienced it in her lifetime. If you look at the statistics, somewhere around 81% of women have experienced it as have around 20% of men.

She used the go-to excuse of “words being taken out of context”, a.k.a. what every celebrity says when they realized that their actual opinions could potentially destroy their livelihood. Next will be the very public mea culpa that tends to follow these events. Then people will forget that she ever said it and life goes on without ever addressing the greater problem again.

There is a reason why people stay quiet. This is the reason. I don’t want to call these people (both men and women can experience this) victims. They are not victims. They are survivors of whatever happened. They moved forward. They suffered in silence, which can even be worse than the harassment or especially any unwanted touches/assault. The minute people can start holding the person who did the act accountable rather than blaming the one who experienced this power play, that is when things change.

At the end of the day, sexual harassment and assaults are about the power a person can have over another with very little to actually do about sex. People become more powerful by taking the power away from another. As long as silence is the only solution for those who suffer, this is going going to get worse. We need to start blaming the right people in these matters than the people who have to feel shame or embarrassment. It doesn’t matter what a person wears. It doesn’t matter if they said something flirtatious. It doesn’t matter what the other person did. They do not deserve it. We have to make sure that this is no longer acceptable behavior. We have to stop looking at the innocent party in this to see what they could have done to cause it. Rather, we need to look at the guilty party to see what is broken in them that makes this all okay.