Last week, Marte Deborah Dalelv, a Norwegian woman working in Dubai, accused a coworker of sexual assault. The police completely dismissed her allegations. On top of that, Marte was then arrested for having sex outside of her marriage—which is illegal there. I think the scarlet letter they wrote on her chest was "Y" as in "WHY THE HECK IS THIS HAPPENING??!?!" She got assaulted, and went to jail for it. I understand different countries have different cultural views, but the right to own your own body sexually is a universal, inalienable human right that should be protected for everyone! Soooo... my least favorite piece of misogyny this week is when victims are blamed for sexual assault.
Blaming the victim is awful because it reiterates the stigma that we shouldn't own our own bodies. And it's scary to feel that I don't own my body because at this point I can't return it to that 16-year-old virgin. Blaming the victim nurtures shame for being a woman, being sexual, brainwashing us into believing we're just "things" that men lust after. (Oh, no... now I feel bad for Xboxes!) Growing up in a world where women are blamed for being objectified, I feel shame when men flirt upon me. Like, "Oh I'm sorry that I'm not interested. I know I wore this dress and made eye contact, so I can see where you'd get the idea to ask me how I like my eggs in the morning. I'm sorry. And with dragons in them."
Recently onstage at a stand up comedy show I mentioned I hate the fear sexual violence instills in women. Then after the show a man in his fifties approached and told me, "You know, you always have the choice not to put yourself in those situations." I felt something like a combination of terror and embarrassment. I nervously looked down and wordlessly walked away. It just reminded me that I fear for my safety on a base instinctual level.
I can't say enough horrible things about rape culture. But, I can sing them! (Oh we're not in a musical? Next time.) The convention of sexual violence and fear it creates is the worst thing about our society. It is not my intention to make light of or trivialize this experience. Blaming the victim for sexual violence has larger repercussions for society, such as curating a paradigm of low self esteem for women, a guilt for existing, a hatred of our sexuality and femininity. I obviously can't do away with all the rapists in the world—not till all the crystals are reunited—but, I do think it's getting better. I think women and men are becoming more aware of the culture of sexual violence and more likely to report crimes, to take a stand against sexual violence. No one should ever feel guilty for attracting unwanted advances of any sort. If you've felt shamed for being victimized, I'm so sorry. We're not alone. We can't allow anyone to silence us—and we won't. That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week... tune in next week to play checkers with me, please!