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“If rape is bad,
then just don’t call it rape...”

Janet Kuypers

    Recently heard of a woman who claimed some men from a college fraternity raped her, and the 24-hour drive-by media was all over it — and it was another statement to me that the treatment of women as objects has not changed since my own college days, but maybe now with more media coverage people may learn that this is not something men can feel they can do to young women like this anymore.
    I know I worked as an acquaintance rape workshop facilitator for years, and I ran both local flyers and newspaper ads highlighting the topic of acquaintance rape to try to remind people that this is common — and it isn’t right. And I know that after people learned I do this kind of work I’d then hear stories about assaults for years (and from “non-violent-seeming” to violent in nature, I’d hear them all), where women would come up to me and tell me about their own past issues of being sexually attacked or raped, and having no one to turn to. So it made me feel good that, if things may not have necessarily improved between the sexes this way over the years, that maybe then the media will be all over stories like that, and it may deter someone from doing that to a woman again.
    But then I heard the mews media cover this woman’s story again, where they discovered that this woman was making the rape story up, because she figured that the masses would rally behind her if they thought she was raped.
    And it was heartbreaking to hear that (not that she wasn’t sexually violated, but to hear she made it up), because whether or not she made it up, there are women who go through that (even if she didn’t go through this and wasn’t raped, she was basing her lie on well-known truthful stories, and knew that the commonality of a crime like this makes it sound too believable to not be true).
    It as also heartbreaking to hear that a woman would lie like this, because there are too many women who are too afraid to come forward. Too many women who believe in the “victim blaming” myth, that they must have dome something to provoke this, and they also believe that others may not believe them if they came forward in the first place.
    And now, when a story like this — of a woman who was “making it all up” comes out, that’s like hammering another nail into the coffin of ones who are afraid to tell people their story in the first place.
    So I just had to remind myself of the stats I learned too long ago, that one in three woman are sexually assaulted somehow by the time they reach age 21. That fewer than 5% of women come forward when they have been attacked. That the term ‘victim’ is used far too much more than ‘survivor,’ or any word that may make it feel like less of an assault on the women’s very existence.
    So, since the drive-by media instantaneously found another story to cover, I went about my business, and then I heard states from the liberal media that the rates of sexual assault on women in the military are at staggeringly high levels, and the women cannot come to their male higher officers to report any crime when those superiors are often feeling so much comradery with the male offenders that she would be further ridiculed of she tried to come forward.
    When I mentioned this information to a man who used to be in the military, they told me that the stats not covered by the media of the sexual assaults on men be other men in the military, because no man in the military would want to admit they were sexually attacked by another military man.
    (Well, I cannot comment on information like that?I’m unaware of, but this just shows how a man can get the subject away from sexual attacks against women. Thank you for avoiding the subject.)
    But moe recently another sexual story came through the media, and this time it was from an article published in Rolling Stone magazine, where they interviewed a woman (and published her story under a different name, of course) who told her story of being gang raped my a number of men at a Virginia college fraternity.
    (When I first heard this story, I remembered a guy in a frat tell me about how one room in their frat house basement was covered with mattresses, so that at any time during a party a guy could take the girl-of-the-moment to the basement for sex. I don’t know if they called this the sex room or the rape room, but for some reason that story came to mind when I heard of this story in Virginia.)
    But when this story was published in Rolling Stone, I heard that the college where this happened decided to abolish all fraternities on campus, to make sure nothing like this could happen on their campus again.
    Then later I heard that this story may have been made up from this woman (because different sources said she gave different accounts or different details). She asked the writers at Rolling Stone to not try to contact the attackers (to protect and respect her), which they did. The magazine then felt bad that they didn’t do this basic research in their journalism story, and that once again a story about a women who has been sexually attacked that come to the media for release possibly wasn’t true.
    Oh, you’re kidding me, was all I could think.
    But then a friend of the victim/survivor/story-teller came forward in a letter, stating that she didn’t know what happened that night but that her friend’s behavior did change after that night, and this friend is sure something happened to the woman.
    And so now we all play the collective guessing game, trying to decipher what may or may not have happened, trying to be sleuths when we have far too clues. And yes, the media was talking about it, but finally, one person said that they fear that in all of this coverage about the wrong part of this story, that maybe one woman somewhere, who has gone through a traumatic experience like this, may not come forward because of all of the slanted hype.
    Because this is just one story. Any there is truth to it, though in this one case we don’t know the extent and the details, but there is truth to this story. Because this does happen to women, and for every one story we hear about it, there are probably an exponentially higher number of cases that are never brought to television, or even brought to a police station or a hospital. (Only in more recent years have women felt comfortable even telling other women about what happened to them — and I only heard of these many personal stories because I did work in the field to help women through these traumas.) And that is what has been missing from these discussions, the discussions of how to treat women. To remind hormonally charged men (and no, I’m not going to tell you the percentage of “hormonally charged” men out there, but I think you get the point) that women are not sexual objects that they can abuse on their whim.
    ...If men didn’t think of women as sexually usable objects this way, then there never would have been a market for creating something we now call the “rate rape drug”.
    You can say it is an effort to attract men, but women, when going out, put a lot more effort into looking good for the opposite sex — from doing their hair and make-up to wearing jewelry, and even king painful choices about the clothes they wear (go to any bar, and the women will be injuring their feet and legs by wearing high heels, and the men will all be wearing jeans and t-shirts, often baseball caps so they don’t have to worry about their hair, and of course, they’ll all be wearing gym shoes). Part of the ‘victim blaming’ mentality is that women dress too well, to imply that women are asking for it, when that”s one of the things women are pretty universally taught to do to in the attraction game (because historically women have been taught that outside of working at jobs to try to earn comparable pay as men for the same job, the important thing is to look good, since men can choose the best looking woman for a mate, or at least just a date). Mixed messages are given to women their entire life (look like a Barbie, have eternally perky breasts and never eat so you can remain disproportionately thin — so anorexia can remain a hidden secret and won’t be discussed, and spending thousands of dollars to put silicon breast implants under your skin will seem like something women should aspire for and strive to do). Women have worked to gain the right to work, but in the family they’re still expected (when n the workplace as much as men in their household) to cook the meals, or clean the house, or take care of the kids. Women keep working to be treated as equals, but that glass ceiling keeps getting thicker and thicker, and despite their work, are still objectified, and no one seems to have an issue with that dichotomy. It’s difficult climbing the corporate ladder when the men around you are busy looking up your skirt as you climb. And it’s difficult when women work to look attractive to the opposite sex (because that is what we’re trained to do), when some men will see that as a go-ahead for acting on their sexual desires (whether or not the women want it from them).
    Maybe I won’t have to hear news reports about sexual attacks where the reports then question the truthfulness of the woman attacked once we actually start to have honest discussions about the value and role of women in the world — and in this case, especially when it comes to how men view women today.

— Janet Kuypers

    For a fun addition to how women are still viewed as of late...
    While reading the Times of India, I read of a U.S. study (yes, I was in India and I read a study from the U.S., just go with it), and the study was done on college men, stating that only ~13% of men said they had “intentions to rape a woman” if there weren’t any consequences — but nearly a third of men said they would act on “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if they could get away with it.
    That is rape boys, whether you call it rape or not.
    And the more frightening this is that men are more likedly to do these things to women “if they could get away with it.”
    Well men, it seems that historically you have been getting away with it. So, all I can sarcastically think is, “Keep up the good work...”

Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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