Sunday, May 25, 2008

Not Lucky; Resentful

A good friend was recently the victim of an attempted rape. We are supposed to feel "lucky" that she was able to fight her three attackers off, and walked away with nothing more that a black eye and a pair of broken glasses. Oh, and being traumatized.
Lucky?!? That's bullshit!

According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women in the United States will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. If you add in unreported incidents, the number rises to 1 in 4. Think about any four women you know. Your mother, sister, aunt, or girlfriend. Your third grade teacher, your roommate, your best friend, or yourself. One in four of each of these women has been or will be sexually assaulted.

I am supposed to consider myself lucky, too. One dusky spring evening, when I was 19, I was walking home to my apartment. I was alone. When I was a few blocks away from my home, on a residential side street, a man stepped out of the shadows and grabbed me and started pulling me to god-knows-where. Because I was fast with my fists and feet, I got away from him, physically unscathed.
But, I don't feel lucky. I am angry and resentful. I resent the fact that I work out not just to be healthy, but because, if need be, I want to be able to punch and kick and run. I resent the fact that when I work late, I feel like I need to spend the money on a cab, because I don't feel safe waiting for the bus late at night on a dark street. I resent the fact that when I get dressed in the morning, there is a voice in my head telling me not to wear anything too revealing, and to make sure I wear shoes that I can move fast in. I resent the fact then when I am walking home late at night, I feel that I need to do the keys in my fist maneuver, a move that all women learn at a young age.
I resent that the onus of preventing another assault is on me. I should be able to take it for granted that it will not happen to me. I resent the fact that there is a very good chance that I will be assaulted again in my lifetime. I resent the fact that because I was quick-witted, I am considered lucky. I resent the fact that women who are raped are considered lucky that they weren't killed. I resent the fact that it is not unrational of me to be afraid to be out alone after dark.
I don't know what the answers are. I do know that things are better than they used to be, but we still blame the victim too much, and do not hold the attackers as accountable as they should be. Only 1 in 16 rapists serve any jail time. There are manditory minimums for drug offenders, there should be manditory minimums for sexual offenders. Sexual assault is a much more violent, damaging crime than selling or possessing drugs. Again, look at the numbers: 1 in 4 women assaulted; 1 in 16 attackers punished. Until the percentage of the latter rises, the percentage of the former will not drop.

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