I’ve been thinking about rape a lot lately. It’s natural, what with current events. There seems to be a lot of shock at the news that Brock Turner, his family, and his friends view his sexual assault of a woman as, well, nearly accidental. One friend claims that many rapes happen without a rapist! You know, just a misunderstanding, I guess. And he and his dad seem to believe that it was the fault of the school, somehow. Anyone’s fault but Brock’s. There’s also widespread shock at his light sentence, but an absence of sentencing data for sexual assault casts some doubt here. Is it really light in comparison to the norm, or, worse yet, do sentences for sexual assaults just plain tend to be light?
But when I say I’ve been thinking about rape a lot, what I mean is consciously pondering the situation. Because every woman, at least in the US, thinks about rape every day. When we’re walking to our car alone. When we take out the garbage after sunset. When we’re out for a run and hear someone behind us. When things go bump in the night. When men shout things at us on the street. Or just try to get our attention. The other day, a woman I know posted about running from a group of men simply because they saw her, and it was dark out. And I bet every woman who read that post understood why she did that. And this woman? She’s a badass in the Army National Guard. We all feel the danger, the danger in just being a woman, daily.
You know how, culturally, one reason men are told they ought to fear prison is the possibility of being raped by another prisoner? Thing is, prison is the only place a woman is less likely to be raped than a man. The. Only. Place. And even there, it still happens.
And this is why we talk about the rape culture. This is why we’re frustrated to tears that men brush off our concerns and our statistics and so on. Because every sexual assault makes every day more frightening for every woman. And every sentence that is measured in months shouts that our peace of mind, and our very bodies, are inconsequential. That Brock’s potential is worth more than his victim’s vagina. That his happiness is worth more than hers. She’ll never be able to fully recover from this, but let’s make sure he can, you know, he shouldn’t spend his whole life paying for this ‘mistake’. But she will. And she won’t be alone.