Friday, December 5, 2014

Rape-shaming the Women

Rape is a topic we really don't want to deal with in most instances, but is is a fact of life and I recall a book, by a feminist leader decades ago, that detailed the history of rape as a tool of submission and another that compared it to the fear of lynchings pervasive in our country at one time. It was never brought up during at the trials in Nuremberg even though it was rampant in the concentration camps. Familiar with the "Lebensborn Program?" Women were used against their will to become vessels for the super race that Hitler wanted to create. How do you create a super race when you're using women you've already denigrated?

What has kept the women from coming forward? To me, that's an indictment right off the bat of any woman who does come forward. She is immediately accused of having some plan to gain either money or to damage someone's reputation or to get her 15 minuts of fame in the media spotlight. Destroy her at all costs would seem to be the mantra because, after all, don't women cry "rape!" all the time and doesn't "NO" really mean "Yes?" No it doesn't and we have to stop this rape-shaming of women.

Now, we are paying new attention to this crime against women (and men). It is more common in college than we wanted to know. I recall a very well-known college making it a point not to tell parents, on those famous parent weekends, about the high incidence of rape on their campus. I don't know how the parents managed to miss the postings near the front doors of buildings that indicated any woman wanting an escort home could call a specific number for one. Who would ordinarily need an escort on this oh-so-famous campus unless there was a clear and present danger that the young women would be raped or disappear? Yes, disappear. Posters around the campus carried the photo of a young woman bicyclist who had disappeared on campus. I don't know if they ever found her.

Suddenly, the military is admitting to somewhat shocking statistics about rape in their ranks and writing it off to better reporting. Doesn't that smack of something more? Say, for instance, that all of this has been happening while they were doing all that wonderful anti-rape training and setting up counseling? So, it's similar to the same argument we saw when women began to get more DUI citations; not more women drinking but more police not letting them get by. Women suffer from alcoholism just as men do and, yes, it's the reporting that changed. So, I have to think that there's a lot more rape and sexual abuse going on in the military than even these new statistics allude to. Susan Brownmiller wrote about it in 1975.

Rape isn't just out in the general population because the not-so-well-hidden secret is that rape is rampant in other places where the victims are like chickens in a pen. Prison isn't just a place anyone is sent to be punished for crimes. It is well-known that it is where they go to be raped with the tacit permission of those in authority. Young people are particularly victimized by prison populations in adult and juvenile facilities and what is being done about it? To my mind, prisons are places of containment of gangs that prey on the "fresh fish", the innocent, the vulnerable, the less muscular. Don't think it doesn't happen in women's prisons, too.

Bill Cosby is only one well-known entertainment personality who has been accused by multiple women of having drugged and raped them. In England, now that he's dead, we find that possibly hundreds of children were raped by their beloved well-known performer, Jimmy Savile. The entertainer was active, it would seem, for over 50 years in these heinous acts against children. Parents were duped just as we have been in the case of highly successful entertainers in the US.

Hollywood has long been the capitol of filmmaking and licentious lifestyles. Public relations experts, press agents and adept attorneys plus studio bosses were well-schooled in keeping the seamier side of Lotus Land hidden from public view. After all, it would affect box office sales, wouldn't it? Forget about the women, the young men and the children whose lives would be destroyed. They were so much collateral damage in the push for the bottom line. Some were no more than mere tissues to be used, abused and thrown aside.

Have we begun to lift up the rock under which these crimes have been hidden? I tend to be cautiously sanguine about all of it. Will money and power prevail or will social change truly come to bring relief to the survivors? Let's wait and see.

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