So, I just found out that April is sexual assault awareness month and I want to have a discussion about it. I would like for you to comment, email, message, and engage with me on this topic. In fact, I’d love it!
I would love some engagement because I don’t want to just talk about why sexual assault is bad. We all know sexual assault is bad. Even the people that do it know it’s bad. I want to talk about things that us regular folk do every single day, without even thinking, that keeps rape culture thriving.
While in a discussion forum about a year ago, I said something about not wanting to have sex until I was married although I was 40 years old and had four children already. I didn’t go into detail about why though. The participants in this conversation ripped me a new one! I was told everything from not being ready to seriously date to being emotionally unstable and in need of psychotherapy. However, the more sensitive participants were curious as to why. Why didn’t I want to have sex?
Are you serious?
Are you telling me that not wanting to have sex with someone must be accompanied by a good reason? Is it not viewed as a personal decision? Well, a lot of people seem to believe that. And that, my friends, is the foundation of rape culture.
We live in a very capitalistic society, so money is highly regarded. If after taking a man out and paying for four dates, I asked him to start paying my rent he’d be appalled. But if I then demanded an explanation, he’d probably be insulted. Most would agree that his response is justified as well. It would be insane for me the expect a man that I haven’t committed to, don’t see a future with, nor do I love or even live with to regularly pay my rent. And somehow, as a society, we’ve accepted that his money is more valuable than my body.
The idea that a woman would view her body to be just as valuable, if not more, as that man’s money is ridiculous. As a society, it is perfectly normal to question a woman that is not having sex about her motives. I don’t want to leave out the men though, because even I have been guilty of the reverse. We aren’t even supposed to have to ask men for sex, so a man abstaining from sex is just unheard of! He really has some explaining to do. Why doesn’t no just mean no? We make it the “me too” or anti-rape advocacy mantra, but do we truly live it?
Should a person feel obligated to explain their abstinence as a vow of celibacy or a religious practice? Should they have to “blame it on God” before their boundary is respected? What if it’s not religious? Does that invalidate their decision? And then what? What happens if their excuse isn’t good enough?
That fact that anyone must have an excuse is a part of rape culture. It lays a foundation for people to dismiss the stories of victims and the trauma of the experience, as well as give assailants less of a deterrent to commit the crime. No should be a complete sentence, but there are certainly times when it’s not, and sex quite often is one of those times.
Sex is one of those topics that can be broached at any time without much consequence. It can be solicited after one date or through something as impersonal as a direct message. The recipient can certainly decline, but the fact that the proposition was made is seen as normal. The same can not be said for marriage, cohabitation, merging bank accounts, or anything else that may signify commitment or intimacy. It’s almost as if sex has very little to do with intimacy or the commitment level of a relationship. Maybe, two people could have sex with no commitment or feelings at all, or worse, two people could have sex even if both parties don’t want to.
It’s dangerous when something like physical intimacy is seen as an entitlement. Quite frankly, if a person doesn’t want to have sex with you or anyone else, the reason is none of your damn business. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are and if there are any other factors that contribute to rape culture that you’d like to add. I feel just saying that sexual assault is bad isn’t enough to fight the battle against it. We have to start having the uncomfortable conversations that address the problem at its root. What are your thoughts?
After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.