The Global Problem of Sexual Assault

You are not very likely to be robbed. You are, in a sense of losing something valuable but not to the point of going to court and pressing charges.

You are equally not very likely of being murdered or having someone you know being murdered. This holds true no matter where you live. Even if you live in New York or Iraq, your likelihood of finding yourself in a courtroom is not very high. In fact, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you have never been in a courtroom as a victim of robbery or murder.

However, if you are a woman, you are very likely to have been sexually assaulted. If you are a man, there is a decent chance, that no matter how “good” of a guy you are or what others think of you, you have assaulted someone. You may not be the evil type, but given our society, it is likely that you have done something to a woman that she didn’t want. You know it’s true, statistics show it to be, no matter what we say. It is also likely that you have done something with someone you didn’t like. And that probably makes you think that you are just as much of a victim as a woman, but we know it's not the same.

So why if this is so common, are these cases treated so differently? A person robbed doesn’t have to worry about having friends and employers being asked about your tendency to leave something out, that maybe you asked to be robbed. If you left the keys in your car a police officer won’t say “well I guess you asked for it”.

If someone is killed on a dark street late at night, a police officer won’t use that in the decision of investigating the murder. Can you imagine a detective arrives at a crime scene, looks around, and says: “we can’t try this, people will think this person wanted to be killed, why else would they be here, late at night?”

If someone is killed no one tells to the family they wanted to be killed and if there was an attempted murder, no one says “well it didn’t actually happen so it’s ok.”

And yet, this is how we treat rape and sexual assault. We pry their lives apart, look at their credibility, look at their motives and circumstances and even when everything fits the definition of “rape”, we then evaluate if the “rapist” deserves that name, if they fit that definition: poor, minority, sexual deviant. And if they don’t, then it can’t possibly be rape. He’s attractive, charming, good family, good friends. What’s his motive? You’ll destroy his life.

We know that murder usually happens by friends or people you know, but we don’t say “well they knew them, so this murder shouldn’t count”. In fact, a murder by someone you know is seen as worse. But with rape it is the opposite, the rape by an acquaintance is seen as not credible because twisted logic says that if you know someone then you as a woman automatically want to sleep with them, but if its a stranger then it’s rape, if the rapist fits the rape profile: violent, poor, minority, sexual deviant.

No one asks the question of the effect of jailing a murderer or a thief on their families. That’s the effect of committing a crime and you should have thought about that before hand. We focus on the effect of murder on a family, of a burglary on the feeling of safety of the victims family. Yet with rape it is the opposite. We ignore the devastation that rape brings on the family of the victim and focus on the effect on what might happen to the family of the rapist. The families of the murderer feel guilt, but the families of the rapists are victims, and victims of the woman who dared to protect herself and bring the charges forward.

And after all this, there are people who are not only surprised that women don’t make accusations, but are angry at a woman and doubt a woman who did not bring up the allegation, did not go to the police. We then ignore all the ones who did who were discounted. Ignore all the ones who did make a charge, went on trial, and had their lives destroyed.

Why? Why do we treat victims of rape so differently from all other crimes? Why do we treat rapists, especially white middle class and wealthy rapists from all other crimes?

The answer is very simple and it lies with that painful but true thing I said at the beginning: most men, at some point, have been guilty of an assault. whether they know it or not, whether they admit to it or not, most, not all, have been guilty. And the more they fight this idea that rape exists, that rape happens often, that rape needs to be punished, the more likely it is that they or someone they are friends with, raped.

The reason why rape is treated so differently from the theft of murder is not that it happens rarely, or isn’t violent, or isn’t damaging, but because it happens so often and by so many. Each trial of a rapist is not about that rapist and that victim, it is about every rapist and every victim. Each trial is a direct threat to our entire society, on every man who was rough, who took a drunk girl to bed, who pushed a little too hard and in the heat of the moment, didn’t take the hint that she isn’t interested that she might like sex but not with him. Each case is a message to every woman who felt broken and discarded that either you have a voice, you have a right, to your body and justice, or you do not have a right to attack the men, the male patriarchy, the “fathers, sons, brothers” with a great “future”.

This threat is felt not just by men, but by women. Every mother fears for her son, every sister fears for her boyfriend, every wife, fears for her husband. Because they identify with that nice guy, because they married a nice guy, they raised a nice guy, they grew up with a nice guy and what if that nice guy, harmed a nice girl? No, we cannot imagine that, we cannot think of that.

So instead, what do people (men and women) think? “She was a tramp, she asked for it, she’s lying, she wants attention, she wants revenge, my nice boy wouldn’t do that.” Even though deep down, you remember the “nice” boys and you know very well that most men are capable of great good and great evil, and the difference between committing it and not committing it, is how you are raised and the accountability within a system and society. And that scares the hell out of everyone one of us.

Because this issue is so pervasive, so encompassing, it is a threat to us all, because every case empowers a woman to seek her justice. But justice is not like the crime. A crime can remain hidden, a crime hurts silently. Justice is loud. The crime occurs and the victim lives with it alone, with her family. But a court room is big, it is public. A trial is long and the sentence is longer and the felony stays with you and destroys a person for the rest of that life.

In a way, when a problem is so big, the justice system is too blunt and thus the society tries to protect itself. For that reason, we chose our sons over our daughters. We chose to let our daughters live with shame and pain for the rest of their lives than put our sons into prisons with killers and murderers and end their chances at life. It is a rational decision not just for us as individuals, but for society.

We simply cannot survive as a society if even 25% of our men go to jail, and the numbers are much higher than that. Rape targets and the rapists have families and their families will all fall apart. Because the rape victims probably know several men in their immediate family or friend circle who also, at some point, committed sexual assault. They committed it because our society pushes young people to have sex a million times a day, from TV, to biology. It is all that young people think about and it is pushed on them from porn to advertisements because “sex sells”.

I remember being a teenager, and my greatest fear was dying a virgin. It was so important from the media I consumed to what kids talked about around me. The popular guys and girls had sex and I didn’t. They were the ones who were cool, who had status, who got laid and those of us who didn’t, were not as valuable to society.

This shouldn’t be surprising, we are animals and the chief job of all animals is to procreate. The best animals get to procreate from insects to humans. Yet because we are human, we learn that sex is not all that important. We learn this after we have sex. After my first time having sex, I realized that it was such a silly thing to desire. When I “lost” my virginity, my life didn’t change, I didn’t change, just my desire changed. I didn’t procreate, I didn’t have a child, but my mammalian brain thought it did, my society condition brain that considered a male virgin to be inferior felt now complete. But it wasn’t. Because we are not just conditioned to have sex ones, but to conquer many women, to get laid a lot. The more women want us, the more worthy we are in this society. It is how we signal our worth: we are strong or athletic or rich and for that reason love us or women love us and for that reason we have worth. And for this reason, men try to conquer, spread their seed while also repeating the destructive things they find online.

Millions of teenagers, conditioned by society, by biology, by porn, feel this drive, this push to get laid and what does it do? It creates situations where men assault women, where people assume all women want to have sex with all men, that sexual assault isn’t serious and fake and a call for attention. And how do we try to prevent this? We don’t. Parents ignore the issue because their sons would never do this and their daughters would never end up in that situation. Because it is easier to pretend that this will happen to someone else than face the reality, that it is actually very very likely that it will happen to your daughter and your son.

So how do we fix this?

First, since parents can’t do this, schools must. Schools must discuss rape. They must discuss the effect of rape on women and on men. They must not only explain the workings of pregnancy and effects of HIV and how to put on a condom but also what is sex, how it affects us, how and why we seek it, and how it can be used.

Our justice system needs to realize the extent of this problem and treat women no different than victims of murder or theft. It must also recognize that just as drug problem is often not a choice and a societal problem and disease, we must look at rape as a pandemic, as a disease of our society and find a way to deal with it in a way that does not threaten the society but offers the women a way to have justice and a way to stop the men who are habitual rapist and help the men who are the “good” guys from not doing bad thing things but also holding them accountable.

Sex is a nuanced thing. It is a form of procreation, bonding, control. It can be a signal of wealth, or health, or worth or all of the above. But America, with its Puritanical past has a difficulty of dealing with it and seeing it in all of its various forms.

But America has difficulty dealing with things honestly and frankly and directly. We say we like it “said the way it is”, but that’s only when it is us talking about others, never when we are the ones who need to be told. But to confront a problem, you have to see it, you have to say and this is one problem that is too big to ignore because it is literally devouring our women alive, it is devouring our men alive too because causing trauma creates trauma. We have millions of women who experienced trauma, keeping it a secret, and millions of men who have committed trauma, who hold it as a secret.

Trauma perpetuates trauma. These men and women have to bring up children. Children that will lead this country, this world, and will either traumatize others or be traumatized, all based on how they are brought up, on what they are told about sex and what they are told about their bodies, and how the law sees them. In our next evolution as humans, let’s solve this issue of law and how it sees victims and perpetrators of sex-crimes. It’s the only way to stop the harm, reduce the stigma, fix our society.

Just a guy telling a story.