One of the very beautiful aspects of living in a culture, in a community, is that absurd things become normal.
For instance, every single day we pee and poop in a little bucket that magically takes our excretions somewhere never to be seen again. To the outsider that is absurd magic. To us, it would be weird if the toilette didn’t exist.
Aspects of culture are hard to see unless you can borrow another perspective and realize that the way we live is not the way things are. It’s the way things are in this really small part of the world, in this really short moment in history. And maybe, just maybe, they don’t have to be this way.
I think this can be a fun aspect of life. But what happens, when a toilette-esque phenomena is deeply and supremely damaging to people in our society? Like sexual assault.
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted by the age of 18.
99.5 percent of perpetrators of sexual assault are men.
Therefore, if we ourselves are not victims, there is almost 100% chance that we are close to someone who is a victim. And, more than nine out of ten times, the assaulter is a man.
What does this mean? Why am I talking about it? Well it has dawned on me that sexual assault of women and children by men is NORMAL. Maybe not as normal as taking a poop, but it is disturbingly close.
Picture this, we live in a society where no one is taken advantage of sexually. Little girls and little boys do not have to worry about the adults in their lives. Woman walk down the streets at night, unafraid, mace-less and alone, wearing whatever the hell they want.
All of a sudden: PANDEMIC! There is an outbreak of male violence, there are suddenly countless rapes a day. It is no longer safe to walk alone through certain neighborhoods, children are being molested daily by their fathers, caregivers and teachers. If you’re a girl between the ages of 14 and 21, you are particularly at risk. Everyone freaks out, the newspapers read “No woman is safe, outbreak of serial rape!”.
The president makes a speech and the troops are moved to do something about the sudden cruel and unsafe conditions for women and children.
The point is: we would do something.
But we do live in this culture. Women do worry constantly about the threat violation. Too many boys and girls are not safe in their homes. But to a degree, female submissiveness and objectification is normal, so we have lost some outraged. Through the normalization of the idea that “woman are victims, men are rapists”, we have become complacent.
So I am asking us to stop looking at these things as normal. When you hear derogatory comment from someone, such as the all-too-popular “that girl just needs to be f&*!@”, question it. When you see an ad that links violence and sex, realize that this advertisement is part of a larger culture that normalizes the sexual commoditization and victimization of women. And hey, if you watch porn, try to steer clear of the kind that inevitably ends with women in degrading used and abused positions of submission.
Even if for a minute we can pretend that sexual assault is not the status quo, and try to look at these instances with fresh eyes, we can begin to change something that deeply and brutally effects (in one way or another) every man and woman in this country.