Chrissie Hynde, singer/songwriter of The Pretenders, recently blamed herself for the sexual assault she experienced when she was 21. She recounted her temerarious behavior in a memoir, subsequently stating that she got what she’d been asking for in an attempt to rebel or escape her dull upbringing in Akron. One of her comments was, “That’s what those motorcycle gangs do.” She was talking about rape, and she believes it was her fault.
When I read her words, I felt more sadness than anger. Sophie Heawood of the The Guardian expressed much of what I was feeling in this piece:
As she eloquently stated, “You can’t start blaming Hynde for blaming herself, or the whole cycle of non-empathy continues.”
I will say, taking responsibility for our part in what happens to us is an essential part of maturing. For me, that means examining what occurred, learning, healing, and deciding what you might have done differently . It doesn’t mean that the crime was not 100% the criminal’s fault, or that it can be justified.
Hasty generalizations are problematic as well. Rape is not what motorcycle gangs do. It’s what that particular group of bikers did. Similarly, rape is not what men do. Nor is it a typical response. Men are not barbaric Neanderthals who are unable to control themselves. Disturbed individuals, who, among other things, use aggression to deal with their anger, hurt, and shame, commit rape. A man who wants to persuade a woman to go further is not going to rape her unless he has those anger, control, and power issues.
Of course, being careful and taking precautions to avoid disaster is a good idea. Who said it isn’t? That doesn’t mean because you weren’t or you didn’t; rape is an appropriate consequence.
Then we have this crap about clothes or how women present themselves in situations where everyone is drinking and ready for fun. I’ll go out on a limb here and say, many people have made unfortunate choices in clothing, attention-seeking and drinking. It’s happened at some point, maybe more than once, especially in those young naive years. More people than we’d expect suffer from a lack of self-worth, too, and don’t have any idea why they have this compelling need to seek attention, admiration, and approval. It doesn’t mean they want someone to rape them. Have whatever impression you want and judge away about a woman’s transparent bid for attention if that’s your thing, but the outcome shouldn’t be violence, ever, or slipping someone drugs. I don’t care if you think that woman is stupid and drunk and making a complete fool out of herself. I’ve lost count of the people I’ve seen acting drunk and stupid. Get her help if you care so much, because that’s what she needs.
Most of us humans don’t want to hurt anyone, and most of us don’t know how easy it is for those who can. We don’t know that until it happens because we can’t imagine violating a person that way.
Rape statistics are mind-boggling, and yet, a recent campaign to create awareness #YesAllWomen resulted in a backlash from rape apologists and detractors of both genders.
Rape is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.
By the way, anyone who thinks the ‘God’ they worship sends gifts of babies through rape is seriously brainwashed. That is horrific. Was he sending that gift to the ten-year-old girl in Paraguay—raped and impregnated by her stepfather? I don’t see how a person in a right state of mind could believe that. Besides, a child is not a gift or a toy or this thing you bend to your will at all costs. A gift is something you can do whatever you want with when you receive it because it belongs to you. A child is a human being you choose to bring into the world because you’ve committed to loving, nurturing, and protecting him or her in every way you know how. That child belongs to himself or herself.
Those who peddle this hogwash are more concerned about controlling women than they are about babies.
Much wrath is directed at the “angry feminists” who have a right, as we all do, to be concerned and angry. And yes, I’m a feminist as long as equality is an issue because that’s why feminism exists. I am also a humanist.
A while back in New York City, I attended an annual walk against rape with my then boyfriend. He came to show his support and didn’t feel welcome since there was an anti-men sentiment. It was true of that event, and it may be the case with some women. It’s not the agenda of all feminists or every attempt at creating awareness.
One of the chants that day was, “Women unite, take back the night.” I thought it should be all of us uniting—men and women. That’s the only way it will work. The majority of men are on our side, and guess what? Rape happens to them, too.
We have to trust people in life. Perhaps instead of taking advantage of that trust and the vulnerability of others, we could care for and about each other. That matters above everything, how we treat one other. Wouldn’t you agree?
© Copyright September 2, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.