August 22, 2012

One in Three

My three girls
Today, I was going to write a hilarious post about poop.  Seriously, you were going to be laughing for days.

But I can't do it, because instead I broke one of my own rules.  I read the comments to an opinion piece online.

I've written over and over again about the horrible things people say when they believe they're anonymous, things that they wouldn't ever say if they were looking you in the eye.

Well, sometimes they would say those things.

Over the weekend, Rep. Todd Akin made some ridiculous claims about "legitimate" rape.


Take a moment, please, and recall if you will the media shitstorm that has been going on since then.  The right wing's "experts" claiming that he was right and pregnancies don't happen that way, angry citizens coming out of the woodwork...

Imagine that you've been the victim of rape.

That your superior officer told you that if you didn't have sex with him, you'd be leading the convoy and be most likely to be blown up by an IED.

That you boyfriend threatened over and over to kill himself if you didn't shut up and lay down on your back for fifteen minutes, and after watching him hurt himself you believed him.

That you woke up, unable to move, and realized that the anonymous person on top of you must have put something in your drink.

That your husband came home drunk in the middle of the night, pulled down your pajamas, and you knew that if you said anything you would get hurt even worse.


Now, imagine for a second that I didn't make up any of that.  That all of those scenarios are real.  That all four of them happened to people I know personally, that I love.  That one of them happened to me.

And now, imagine that one of those victims became pregnant.

You see, that can happen.  Any time a sperm meets an egg making its way down a fallopian tube, that can happen.  The egg doesn't know that rape is happening.  The uterine lining doesn't know that rape is happening.  The sperm doesn't even know that a rape is happening.

The only person who definitely knows the horrible thing that is going on, that's the victim.  Sometimes, the rapist doesn't even realize that what he's doing is rape.

And this leaves a lot of area for confusion among men.

Not all men, mind you.  Some men, though, get to thinking...

Why does she get to decide whether or not it's rape?  I don't feel like I've engaged in any behavior that could have been called rape, but maybe... maybe I could be a victim if women are just allowed to say that when I had sex with them, I raped them?

And that's when you get definitions like "legitimate" rape.

Rape is rape.  In fact, any sex that doesn't involve all the involved parties consenting- not consenting under duress and not unable to consent.  That means, not so drunk that they are incapable of consent.  Not so young that they are incapable of consent.  Not unconscious.  Not too scared to say no.

But if you can compartmentalize, you can screen out the "real" rapes from the "hysterical" (to borrow a phrase from Rep. Akin's expert doctor) ones.

And then you can protect the men, perhaps yourself, that don't commit "legitimate" rapes.


Do you now what occurred to me today?  I have three daughters now.

One in three women is the victim of sexual violence.


I would do anything to protect my children.  I would not hesitate to kill somebody who was attempting to cause them that kind of harm.  I mean that.  And I would go to jail.

But most rapists don't go to jail.  Because things like defining rapes as "legitimate" or otherwise helps keep rapists- most of whom are not lurking in doorways, on the streets.  It keeps them in board rooms, in hospitals, in college dormitories, in classrooms, in police forces, in the military, in Congress.

If every rapist went to jail, our prisons would be overflowing with them.

So sometimes, a woman gets pregnant from being raped.  And sometimes, she manages to press charges against her attacker, and he actually does go to jail.  And sometimes, that bastard that raped and impregnates her has the incredible good fortune to have found out that she's pregnant and keeping the baby.  Because, you see, even if he raped her, he has parental rights under the law here.  And he can assert them.

Do you know why most rapists who can do this?  Because if their victims don't want to spend the rest of their lives legally tied to them, they can recant their claims, and essentially let their attackers out of jail, in exchange for their releasing claims on the children who resulted from that rape.


I am a parent.  I can't imagine using my children as leverage to get away with my crimes.

And I am the survival of sexual assault.  And I cannot imagine the pain of having to deal with my attacker because he had the good luck to knock me up.

And I am the mother of daughters.  And again, I would sooner kill whoever did this to my child than allow it to continue.

And then I read the comments on an article about this scenario, and I am too upset to write something funny.

I'm upset because real life people are anonymously commenting, telling the author what they believe.  that if she kept the baby of rape, she must have wanted a baby anyway and he was doing her a favor.  That denying rapists paternity claims may "rob an innocent father of a relationship with his child."  That  women want "special" rights.  That children without fathers have all sorts of problems and intentionally depriving them of their rapist father is punishing them, and you can't have it both ways.

But that's only part of why I'm upset.

I'm upset because many of those men know that they're committing rapes.  And maybe they feel bad about it now, but that doesn't mean they should have had to go to jail.  Really, there's a whole thread on Reddit of rapists supporting each other.

I'm also upset because whenever I post something like this on facebook, or twitter, somebody I actually know comes to the defense of these men.  People I *know* saying to me, on my own facebook page, that women lie about rape afterwords because they regret their actions, and to deny that is offensive.

And yes, those people who I know who come to the defense of those other men... they're men.

They're good looking, charismatic men.

They're men who, in their youth, were frontmen for bands, who rode skateboards and were good at sports and could have any girl they wanted.  And did.

They're men who, frankly, probably went to parties and did have sex with anybody they wanted.  And have probably been accused of rape when they know they didn't do anything wrong.

I was raped by one of those guys.  Facebook still recommends that I become his friend, no matter how many times I tell them not to.

I'm not saying that all of them have raped somebody.  I'm saying that this is the problem.  Men who are so much more concerned with some poor guy being misrepresented as a rapist than the millions of women too terrified to go to the police and say that the really cute guy they'd been flirting with all night raped them.

Because you know what the cops say to that sort of thing?

They say that you were flirting with him all night, so obviously you just changed your mind in the morning about whether or not it was a good idea.

That you were dressed in a short skirt, or showing a lot of cleavage, and you were asking for it.

That you shouldn't have had so much to drink.


Rape is rape.  That is it.  Yet it is the only crime where the burden of proof is on the victim.  The victim has to convince everyone that what happened to her was real, when it is so much easier to just shut up and convince yourself that you are crazy, or you are wrong, or you deserved it.


I have three beautiful daughters.  And I cannot be at every party.  I can't be at every after school club.  I can't be at every concert, at every date, I can't be their RA when they go to college.

I can teach them the difference between 'no' and 'yes,' and I can teach them about the realities of rape- that they need to go straight to a hospital to report a rape, without showering first, if they are to have any hope of getting justice.  I can teach them about the world we live in, how much harder it's going to be for them as women to be treated like human beings.

But I can't change our culture, or our society.  Not alone.  I can't go to every home of every boy that might interact with my daughters for the next forty years and teach their parents to teach them not to rape.


Rape is a real problem.  And it's not simple.  And the reason it is as complicated as it has become is because of horrible claims like those made by Todd Akin.  More and more shame on the victims, more and more people jumping to the rapists' defense.

One in three women is raped.  One in three.

I have three daughters.

This is not the world I want for them.


  1. Great post, I couldn't agree with you more. I'm from Belgium and mr Atkin's crazy statement was in our news as well. I was totally shocked and disgusted by it. Only a man would say such a rediculous thing. How on earth could your body prevent you from getting pregnant just because it's rape. And the 'legitimate rape' wording made me even angrier. It's bad enough that so many people think a woman had it coming just because she's out on the town drinking and flirting with a guy, who then gets worked up and ends up raping the girl because she didn't give him what he thought he would get. Women shouldn't have to be afraid that men might get overexcited and be unable to restrain their 'urges'.
    Men aren't animals. Women shouldn't be blamed for behaving or dressing 'too sexy'.

    It's awful that women just get blamed. Even women often have the tendancy to look at what the victim 'did wrong' to cause that reaction.
    I was violated by a guy I met online and met up with. He seemed great, we flirted, I was barely 16 and excited to meet him. He couldn't keep his hands off me the whole time, did things to me that I didn't want to but I was so shocked and scared that I didn't say no. Luckily it didn't go as far as rape, but being touched and groped and being forced to endure sexual actions is just as bad. I was crying and completely frozen, but when I told some friends later on they stated that I should have just said no or told him to f*** off and leave me alone. At that age it was hard for them to understand I guess, they wouldn't react like that now. But the fact that my friends kinda put the blame on me was even worse than what had happened. So hearing guys in politics make such rediculous statements makes me so very angry.
    Rape is thought of too lightly as it is already.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Lea. No woman should have to be a rape victim.

  3. I can't read the comments on articles like that. People get really brave when they are hiding behind their screens.

    It's so frightening to think of this happening to 1 in 3 women. Frightening that it happens at all, but those stats... Ugh.

  4. A powerful post. 1 in 3 what a shocking stat :(

  5. When I was reading literature regarding the future life of our sponsored child in El Salvador, and one in Africa, it shocked me to learn that little girls are actually raised to ! it's not a matter of if, but when; and how often. which for many of them is weekly because they collect water and firewood for their families....and the rapists wait. everyone knows. the girls know it will happen. their family knows it will happen. the rapists know they will come anyway. No one does anything to stop or change it. it's just life.

    Thus, it's no wonder that without our sponsorship which provides those essentials so she doesn't have to go out the time she is 13, or even younger, she'd be working in the sex industry. doing what's already been done to her for years, so what's the difference?
    so incredibly sad. it breaks my heart. I want to sponsor them all. How did we allow the world to become so vile and full of shades of grey?



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