Don’t Tell Me To ‘Lighten Up’ about Rape Culture
Oh, look at you. You told another rape joke. How bold. And why not? After all, you aren’t dealing with the aftereffects of sexual assault. You haven’t had to make the impossible choice to carry or terminate a pregnancy caused by rape. And, well, it’s just a joke — we all just need to lighten up, amirite?
Fuck you. It’s not ‘gallows humor’ if you’ve never been to the gallows.
I’ll lighten up after we’ve dismantled rape culture. After we’ve burned it down and salted the ground it stood on. When “No means no.” doesn’t become a negotiation and consent is more than an occasional after-thought in sex-ed.
I’ll lighten up when we’re no longer afraid to report rape. Afraid because we know our lives will be the ones picked apart. When victims are believed instead of forced to endure the litmus test for survivor worthiness;
“How many drinks did you have? How many dicks have you sucked? Why were you in that part of town all by yourself?”
I’ll lighten up when, after sitting through a police interview, a rape kit, STD checks, and months of testing to make sure you don’t have AIDS, survivors aren’t then told it’s all our fault because we didn’t “act right,” our clothes were too “tempting,” or we trusted the wrong “friend” to drive us home.
I’ll lighten up when sexual assault stops being compared to burglary or grand theft auto or shoplifting. As if our bodies are objects and we’re the ones to blame for daring to think we’re human, too.
I’ll lighten up when being arrested for selling two dime bags of weed won’t get you more jail time than brutally raping an unconscious woman. When a rapist’s swim scores and “bright future” won’t negate a victim’s need for justice.
I’ll lighten up when men are no longer told they ‘can’t be raped’ or that it’s ‘impossible for a woman to rape a man’ (or anyone else for that matter). When prison rape isn’t seen as either vigilante justice or a sitcom punchline.
I’ll lighten up when every single rape kit is tested. Every time. When we aren’t silenced by the cowards who value status quo above human dignity. The moral weaklings who would rather entertain a rapist than dare tell an uncomfortable truth.
I’ll lighten up when the scars and the nightmares do. When the shaming does. When ‘victim mentality’ stops being a bigger social crime than sexually violating a man, woman, or child. When calling someone a rapist doesn’t cause more of an outrage than actually being one.
As if I should be ashamed of my perfectly reasonable rage at a culture that dehumanizes me and turns me into nothing more than an object to be LoJacked, lest someone steal my worth.
As if my worth could be stolen like a shitty car stereo.
I deserve better.
Even you, rape joke tellers, victim blamers, protectors of the status quo, deserve better.
We all deserve better.
Adapted from a post originally published at wittybitches.com on April 19, 2016.