Sunday, October 7, 2018

Unfortunate wording vs. liars

I recently had a conversation with a young, wet-behind-the-ears man who informed me that he was ‘with Kavanaugh’ and that there wasn’t ‘any proof’ that Dr. Ford was raped. I almost lost my mind.  

Unfortunately, there are many people who feel the same way. And even more unfortunate is the fact that a lot of those people are other women.

I’m not saying that no woman has ever lied about being raped. I’m not trying to suggest that women are always honest with the police, in court and anywhere else for that matter but the thing is, why is it our first assumption that they’re lying unless there’s cold, hard proof. We’re concerned about ruining the ‘good reputation’ of a man, however, no one considers that any woman that comes forward against a man in power is probably risking her own reputation since there’s only about a half a chance people will believe her…even with proof.

This young male went on to say that there were extremists on all sides. With this, I did agree, however, was slightly concerned when he used the example of ‘extreme feminists’ as an example. He claims ‘extreme feminists’ are most likely to hate him simply because he’s white and male. 

I’m guessing it might be another reason however, I remain quiet and listened to his views. 

I then felt the need to point out that even if Kavanaugh were innocent, he still wasn’t a great choice for this intensely powerful position. After all, the man is against abortion and once you remove this right, slowly, other women’s rights could easily follow. Think the Handmaid’s Tale. To this, he appeared stunned and said that I was being extreme (maybe I’m the ‘extreme feminist’) and that he was ‘pro-life’ and somewhere in the midst of this conversation, religion was brought up and essentially, everything began to unravel from there. 

But it was when he told me that Trump wasn’t a racist, he just used ‘unfortunate wording’ when he called Mexican rapists, that I cringed.

Ironically, isn’t it? When Trump says someone is a rapist, it’s unfortunate words. When a woman not only says it but testifies to it and puts everything on the line to stand up against her attacker, she’s just lying.

When a woman is a victim of crime

I close friend of mine was raped at 18. She wasn’t raped at a college party or after a drunken escapade nor did it happen because she was dressed ‘slutty’ or because she hung around the wrong people. It happened because she was always told to trust the police; and so, when an on-duty officer stopped his car to offer her a drive home, she felt safe accepting. As it turns out, this was her first mistake. 

After driving her into a secluded area (this was rural NB after all) he raped her. Considering the officer was in the position of power, clearly that put her at an immediate disadvantage. She followed proper procedure, reporting the crime but it was swept under the rug. The cop was shoved off to another community with no charges and as a result, my friend was sent a clear message; you don’t matter.
This is the same message many women have received in various situations over the years. Whether it be the recent case with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the US or many other women who’ve reported assaulted only to be abused by not only the perpetrator but also the system;, it’s not a new story. Unfortunately, even though it’s 2018, it still appears that nothing has changed from when my friend was raped 20 years ago. We’re still dealing with the same structure of power and belief system now as we were in the 90s.

Although this isn’t always the case, as a woman, I often feel that if needed, the police won’t be on my side. In fact, if I am victimized, I really have no faith that calling the cops will be productive. They'll show up, ask a few questions and chances are, that’s where everything will end. I’ve heard too many stories from other women that have reassured me of this belief; from women who were in abusive situations to women who were stalked, threatened and one of which, eventually killed, with little or no help from the police. I recently heard one story where the female officer accused the woman involved in a domestic situation of being of fault. 

Not to say that women are always innocent victims but it makes me feel that my odds of being taken seriously are slim.

My friend that was raped never was the same after that day. She suffered from self-esteem issues, made irrational and sometimes self-destructive decisions and not surprisingly, had a great deal of distrust for authority. Years later, she was assaulted again by an acquaintance who asked for a drive home. She briefly - very briefly - considered going to the police but finally decided against it. In her mind, it was the people who were supposed to protect her in the first place that lost her trust. The sad part is that when I tell this story to most women, they aren’t surprised.