I don’t know if it is my subscriptions to several feminist blogs, or the recent sexual assault scandals involving high-ranking military officials (and me being a military spouse) that has brought the concepts of victim blaming and rape culture to the forefront of my mind. More than likely it is a combination of both, however, why this has been weighing heavily on my mind is really irrelevant compared to gravity of the issue itself. I know my blog is intended to share my artwork, my artistic experiences and my life in general as a human, but I feel compelled to share this information (even with the minimal reach of my blog in the grand scheme of the internet,I know I have little influence and a meek voice, but this is worth being addressed).
Several months ago I spent the afternoon photographing small group discussions and presentations from various professionals regarding sexual assault in the military, and American society as a whole. I walked silently around the room, capturing photos of active duty members and civilians, both men and women. My observation was fascinating, some people emphatically stated their perspectives, while others tried or didn’t try to hide their disinterest. I saw quiet bystanders who only shared their thoughts when addressed directly by the group leaders. I saw people using compassion and logic while others felt defensive or angry. I overheard callous and careless statements as well as considerate analysis and perspectives. I saw one woman, moved by emotion or memory (I can only guess) she had to quietly leave the room, tears streaming down her cheeks. I was the proverbial fly on the wall–only with a camera and super tall.
My point is, I have heard almost all of these misconceptions about rape and sexual assault that afternoon. Granted these sentiments were sometimes paraphrased. Any victim-blaming always became, “Well, no, no, I am not victim blaming, but I am just saying she shouldn’t have gone out wearing that?” or “Why did she get in the car if she was so drunk?” This is probably one of the best and most concise articles on the subject I have read lately–and sadly, I have read a fair amount on the subject. Because nearly 1 in 5 women experience some form of sexual assault, I can mentally list six friends with little recollection effort, who have experienced some form of sexual assault. (Both men and women, actually.)
PLEASE, if you have a moment take a moment to read this article “My body is not a laptop” by Carina Kolodny from the Huffington Post. It is fairly short, but very relevant. I know, I know, you have probably heard it all before–but this is worth the (maybe seven minutes?) of you time to read. If you are a man who treats women with admiration and respect–awesome, but it is still worth reading. If you have a daughter or a wife or any man or woman (or man) in your life you love, take a moment to reflect on this aspect of our culture
Also–rape is always the fault of the rapist. It will never, ever matter what the victim wore-ever.