Dear Future President,
Two years ago, someone I am very close to in heart had been a victim of rape. It took a toll on my life, and I decided to dig deeper into this issue. Rape and sexual assault are some of the worst crimes in my mind. What’s even worse is the racism, sexism, and blame that goes along with it. Rape culture needs to be changed. Rapists are often set free with little to no punishment. According to buzzfeed, out of 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will serve no jail time. That fact is revolting and scary to our society. Not only that, but the victims are usually blamed, saying that “they were probably asking for it."
Rape culture in America is more looked at towards young women being raped, although it is so much more. Just to name a few things people don’t look at is, the blame is towards the victim, rapists are often set free, girls aren’t the only ones getting assaulted, men do too, women are too sexualized in media, rapists are not blamed, as the situation was “misleading”, and rape is the fourth most common crime in America. Blame being towards the victim usually means that they were “asking for it”, “leading them on”, or being called words. When men get raped, it’s seen as them “getting lucky”, and not being violated. Being shown the sexualization in women over the media, is a big part of this. It shows that women can be comfortable and confident in revealing outfits, in ads, but when they feel comfortable and confident wearing the same outfit in public, they’re seen as objects.
Evidence of this is shown by the two big recent events in the news. Brock Turner, a man who raped an unconscious woman, and the twenty-four year old teacher who raped a thirteen year old boy. Brock Turner is someone who didn’t get the punishment he needed, all because him, his parents, and the judge gave him a pity party. “He’s never done anything like this before.” “He’s a future Olympian!” “The girl was the problem, she shouldn’t have been such a ****, and drank responsibly.” All of these are statements from his parents. He may have been a straight A student, a future Olympian, and “good person”, but no matter what he has done in the past, or how he might’ve acted, he raped someone. He is now known as a rapist. No more than that. Brock is a rapist who only spent six months serving his crime.
Another example is the case of Alexandria Vera. “Alexandria M. Vera, 24, allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a 13-year-old male student while she was teaching eighth-grade English at Stovall Middle School near Houston, Texas. Vera turned herself into police on Wednesday, posted bond and was released, The Woodlands Villager reports. She is charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child, a felony, according to police.” This was back in June, and it still stands strong. All over social media, the male audience is praising this boy for being abused. They call him lucky. It’s not “getting lucky”, it’s a crime.
Not only is that was the media doesn’t understand, rape and sexual assault cause life trauma afterwards. 1 in every 6 women has been a victim of rape/attempted rape, while 54% of people who are raped are from ages 18-24. Males college students from ages 18-24 are five times more likely to be assaulted than a 18-24 male who isn’t a college student. 21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, non-conforming) college students have been assaulted, compared to the 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males. So many people are abused yearly, and the consequences afterwards suck. 94% of women who are raped experience PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, 30% of women report symptoms nine months after the rape. 33% of women contemplate suicide, while 13% attempt suicide. Around 70% of sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress. 84% of people who were victimized by a partner had professional or emotional issues, compared to the 79% who were victimized by a family member or close friend. Along with the stress, people who have been raped/sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public. 3.4x more likely to use marijuana, 6x more likely to use cocaine, and 10x more likely to use other major drugs. Not only does this affect their wellbeing, but their relationships as well. Victims had problems connecting with their friends and family after the crime. Race has a lot to do with it too. On average, American Indians ages 12 and older experience 5,900 sexual assaults per year. American Indians are twice as likely to be a victim compared to other races. 41% of all assaults towards American Indians are committed by a stranger; 34% by an acquaintance; and 25% by an inmate or family member. Let’s not forget, that sexual assault in the military often goes unreported.
Many people will say there are ways to avoid rape. Some examples are, don’t drink, stay with your friends, dress more “appropriately”, and don’t “lead anyone on” People want to have fun and drink, they will get drunk, there is no way to stop it. But if they say no, then no means no. If they are unsure, they will make it clear. Some victims are victimized by people they know, or friends. It important to stay alert with who you hang out with. People feel confident in more revealing clothes, and others don’t. If they are confident in it, there is no reason you should be telling them to change for the sake of someone else. “Well, they are in control of what they wear, so they can choose how they want to look, so they really are asking for it.” You don’t walk around wearing a helmet or face mask, so I guess it’s okay to punch you in the face. Well, you’re not wearing closed toed shoes, so I guess I can just step on your toes if I want. That is not how it works! They WILL ask for it with WORDS. NOT in how they dress. In some situations, people change their minds. They were okay at first, but before anything serious happened, they changed their mind and said no. That is perfectly okay! They don’t owe you anything! Especially not their own bodies! That should be the end of that situation. DO NOT pressure them into anything that they don’t want to do.
To conclude, rape is a horrible crime that should have higher punishment based on what the victim suffers after. No matter what their background is, they are still a rapist. Still disgusting. Still a criminal. These laws need to be changed, and there needs to be more teachings that people are not objects, and are not up for grabs whenever you want it! Teach boys and girls that rape isn’t okay, desexualize the media, and let people be confident in their own skin.