(Ed. note: Trigger warning for discussion of rape.)
I am tired. I am so very, very tired.
I am tired of the constant excuses made for rape and rape culture. I am tired of having all rape culture placed under one big monolithic umbrella, when there are so many things we have to pull apart, recognize and dissect.
I am tired that a wealthy, powerful, white man with massive global connections, who has been described as “a seducer, not an attacker” has people worried about his reputation, when he and his massive legal team have bullied an immigrant woman of color, a domestic worker, into shame and submission. I am tired that she is assumed to have done this all for money. That she has an incarcerated husband. That she is just a maid. A hooker. Uneducated. Undocumented. That all these things that everyone is so eager to define her as, exist as part of a system that someone like Strauss Kahn benefits from and enables every day, whether through large monolith institutions like the IMF, or even with his own unchecked privilege and entitlement.
I am tired that even with evidence the legal justice system continues to fail us. I am tired that there are 400,00 -500,00 untested rape kits sitting in police evidence as we speak.
I am tired of rape being considered “natural.”
I am tired that attention barely exists for those who are deemed deviant or poor or the “wrong” race or sexuality or gender.
I am tired of rape being equated to a flat tire.
I am tired of the myth of a “perfect victim” or the “perfect accuser.” There is no such thing anymore. There is only what makes it to the light to be criticized and what goes ignored.
I am tired of it always being about money, about women who just want money. It is rarely ever about money.
I am tired of newspaper covers like this.
I am tired that Richard Dawkins can say things such as “Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and”¦ yawn”¦ don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you?” and is still considered someone worth listening to, an intellectual whose opinion means something, someone who doesn’t need to apologize. I am tired of being told, “But wait! This isn’t rape!” Yes, but have you ever stopped to think of the bridge between being comfortable enough to let someone know how little they mean and how that figures into sexual assault?
I am tired of rape jokes.
I am tired of rape scenes. Of rape porn being given an ‘R’ rating.
I am tired of rape survivors being labeled as whores.
I am tired that Jamie Leigh Jones is still fighting Halliburton’s KBR after being drugged, raped, and waking up and discovering “her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn”š which would later require reconstructive surgery.” I am tired that it is seemingly okay that both the Justice Department saw no need to initially investigate her case, nor that there is nothing suspect about forced arbitration laws that prohibit people like Jones from taking action when wronged.
I am tired that rape is considered a way to get “men in trouble.” I am tired that rape is considered to be a crime only committed by cisgendered men, against cisgendered women. That being a transgender woman means people like Eric Green can walk away with having just a “fetish” and she is left to pick up the pieces of how unnatural, freakish, awful, dirty, asking for it, she was, with no legal protection. That being a transgender man means being raped to be “fixed” or “taught a lesson.” That being queer means being raped to be “corrected.”
I am tired that the news “discovered” high rape rates on reservations without any regards to the actual people who live and experience that reality.
I am tired that professional journalist in one of our country’s most respected newspapers can say, without batting an eyelash, that an 11-year-old who was gang raped by 18 men.
I am tired that a female journalist was sexually assaulted. That it makes people question whether or not “attractive females” should be journalists. That she is described as “it,” “blonde,” “sexy.” That her assault was wrong for the attention it would get. That we were outraged by the racial connotations, not the actual rape. That to have your rape covered by the media, you need still need to be a pretty white girl. That it still wasn’t taken seriously.
I am tired that migrant workers, who are often vilified by people who enjoy the literal fruits of their labor, are subject to remaining silent on their assaults for fear of deportation or jail.
I am tired of myself and that in this piece, I leave out a thousand other incidents, all which helps to render them back into the realm of the invisible, the unspoken.
I am tired for what these cases all tell us ““ that we need to just shut our mouths and if we don’t start nothin’, there won’t be nothin’. I am tired that we are told over and over that our rapes are expendable, that this is all just a consequence of looking, doing, being a certain type of way, that if we had just done things differently, none of this would have ever happened. I am tired of rape as a punishment, a consequence, a natural hazard of just being one’s self.
I am at a loss of words. I have read through each and every well-crafted, amazing piece by writers whose own anger about the Strauss Kahn case or the Moreno case or the millions of other incidents this year, have examined the hypocrisies, the crossings of privilege, the stereotypes, in their own graceful way. I confess, I have none of this to give right now.
What needs to be done? How do we take on the deeply embedded beliefs, the barrage of rape as a punch line, as a joke, as no big deal, you really need to stop overreacting, it’s just a joke. How do we fight the constant message of: your experience is wrong, your feelings are wrong, you are wrong. I do not know how we can have all the conversations we need to have, how we sit through another day of being reminded that yes, rape is your problem. Deal with it.
How do we explain the very, simple fact that bodies, however you define yours, are not to be violated? Are not to be raped?
Because I am tired of seeing the nameless, faceless statistics over and over. I am tired of it being reduced to just a number or a punchline, an event that those who are quickest to cast judgment, are the ones to have never experienced it. I am tired, just as anyone, who sees the constant barrage of Strauss Kahn on the television or hears another story from their friend or relives their own assault through memory or triggers. I am tired of each of the actions that causes a bit more dignity to be stolen from those who have lived through sexual assault, who are often raped many times after their own physical assault after being questioned and cajoled and denied and labeled a liar, a whore, a slut.
I am tired of rape being a goddamn casualty joke.