I have recently developed a newfound love for Twitter and I wouldn’t be lying if I said, if it wasn’t for twitter I’d be much more unaware of current news. It’s just so simple, you open the app, and then you have easy access to current trending topics and the public’s opinion on it, but I digress…
In the past two weeks, or so, on Twitter, a multitude of girls have come forward telling ‘Their Story’ regarding instances of rape or sexual assault with Celebrities, family members, or peers. I could not begin to imagine the difficulty of coming forward. I could not begin to imagine the emotional and physical effects that stem from someone sexually manipulating you and violating your body in that way. Like I previously mentioned, it’s very easy to see people’s opinions on this situation and although there is an overwhelming majority of support and outrage, there are also those comments which genuinely shock and alarm me. We need to further change the way society reacts to these situations.
“Okay, but what was she wearing?”
The fact that people believe a justifiable reason for rape is the clothing a woman was wearing is incredibly ignorant. A short skirt does not mean she is asking for it. A Bikini does not mean she is asking for it. A floor-length dress does not mean she is asking for it.
What worries me, even more, is that this argument holds up in court. A 17-year-old girl, after being raped had her underwear held up in court, “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” That is not consent. The way she was dressed should never have been a resounding factor in the case. If rape was also around in the 1800s where showing your ankles was an abomination, why do we continue to base the extent of how much we respect women on the way they’re dressed?
“Yeah but like, why now, why didn’t you tell someone when it happened.”
Like I previously mentioned there is no way I can even begin to imagine the difficulty in coming forward. There is so much stigma surrounding sexual assault and the fear of not being believed is very real. The victims in the situation are often blamed and there are so many arguments put forward to justify why this would happen. It’s as though survivors are conditioned into believing it’s their fault. The act of sexual assault is dehumanizing. Every time a girl comes forward more are inspired to do so, there is strength in numbers and a sense of security in the fact that you are not alone. So, as opposed to asking “why didn’t you tell someone when it happened?” we should be praising and supporting them for telling someone it did happen.
“Women lie about being raped though.”
Yes, they do, and lying about being sexually assaulted is in no way shape or form justifiable. However, that is an incredibly small proportion of women, according to TheCut.com “the actual false allegation figure [is] closer to 0.5 percent”. Yet people are so eager to believe so many women lie about it. There is something very sickening about submitting false allegations, not only can it destroy the lives of those accused, it also powerfully overshadows those that do come forward with truthful stories. People often focus on these instances and despite it being such a small percentage of women, it has such a huge impact on people’s reactions to one saying they’ve been abused.
I go online and I see so many girls speak up about their experiences, some from years ago, some more recent. Them finding that courage to tell someone, let alone the world, through social media is truly inspiring. Being a survivor of sexual assault is never something one should be ashamed of. It is never your fault and there is nothing justifiable about it. Although it saddens me to see a large group of girls affected and really realize just how common it is. I have the utmost respect for these girls. I am proud of them for using their voices to make a change. We should learn from them and all use our voices, to work towards eradicating rape and severely condemning those who think a woman’s body is their property.