I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that people are still so quick to cry “fallacy” when someone is accused of sexual assault. I understand that the I know that guy and he would never mindset is one that’s easy to fall into, but it should not, and cannot continue to be your only basis for defense of someone’s character. Until something as startling as a sexual assault allegation is brought to your attention, you only see the parts of a person that they want you to see. What we choose to show and to hide usually depends on the situation. Let me give you an example.
The friends vs. family dynamic of personality is the easiest to use in this situation. I can honestly tell you that the person I am in front of my friends is similar, but not exactly the same as the person that I am around my grandmother. I say and do things with my friends that if I ever did in front of my mother would more than likely lead to a loud gasp and a shaking head. I’m a cynical, sarcastic person by nature, but I can tone all of that down in front of my grandmother.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that I am cynical and sarcastic. I am not, by any means, trying to downplay sexual assault to something as trivial as personality traits. What I’m trying to get at here is that just because you haven’t seen the alleged party sexually assault somebody, does not mean that it didn’t happen. It’s that easy.
Societal discredit unfortunately goes so much further than that mindset and usually finds it’s way to victim blaming. People will look for any reason to discredit the victim. They will go out of their way to find a photo of the victim or hear something about the victim that they somehow believe justifies the actions of the alleged. I don’t care what dirt you claim to find, there is nothing any person can do or wear that elicits and then justifies sexual assault. That mindset is fucking sickening.
To further discredit the victim, people will make snide comments about them going to the proper authorities. As if there aren’t hundred of thousands of untested rape kits. As if countless women don’ go to the police only to be looked at as the girl who cried wolf. As if it doesn’t take an insane amount of courage to admit that something this traumatic happened and that it happened to you. This is not something that is easy to talk about, it is not something that will come up in casual conversation. In the same breath that the alleged will hide that dark, twisted piece of the person they are, the victim will usually try to hide the shaken person left in the aftermath.
What’s worse than all of that is silence. People are often outspoken about sexual assault when it applies to a party they aren’t close too. As if the fact that the people involved are intangible in the moment makes what happened any less real. No. If anything, it should elicit a much stronger response. Please, please, please speak up. Pretending that nothing happened has the same adverse effects as victim blaming. To sweep it under the rug is to say that it isn’t important. To say it isn’t important is to tell sexual assaulters that there is no harm in what they are doing. You are helping to keep an already cannibalistic circle in rotation.
You would think that as a society, we would be beyond this. Instead, we keep falling back on it. There is an incredible song from You, Me, and Everyone We Know called “Better Men” that sums this up perfectly [both this current sentiment, and that of the article as a whole]. The line “recycle, reuse rational when reduce is the cause…right?” is one that truly sticks with me. The goal is to move forward, but we insist on falling back on these monstrous crutches.
Please, make it a point to educate yourself on consent. We have endless resources available to us, and we scarcely make good use of them. The University of Georgia has an entire page dedicated to the definition and examples of consent on their university health center page. You can view that in full here: https://www.uhs.uga.edu/consent/
End Rape Culture.