Last night, I stormed out of a dinner party in a rage with tears streaming down my face. I was in a conversation with a male friend who I love who was trying to explain away Galloway’s comments on Assange. At one point I ended up yelling and itemising the number of his female friends who have been sexually attacked. Let me clarify here, I have not been raped. But I have been assaulted with sex as a goal of the attacker and I have been sexually harassed more times than I can count. Almost every woman I know has been at the receiving end of some sort of sexually motivated abuse. A few weeks ago I was in a meeting when I got a text that one of my best friends had just been attacked on the tube, it was 4 pm.
Two years ago, I was followed approached and grabbed on the tube, I resisted and asked other passengers for help, only to be ignored when the attacker said I was his drunk girlfriend. I only got away by diving in to another tube car as the door closed. Both of us would have been victims of ‘legitimate’ stranger danger rape rather than that of our boyfriends or acquaintances. In ways, that would have made it easier—as people are able to believe that the baddie in the bushes raped you rather than the neighbour you’ve known since you were ten or the guy you’ve been on a few dates with that you would have probably slept with anyway. But both of us when recounting the stories repeatedly say what we were wearing… we explain that we were in no way encouraging it. We justify our right to have been, god forbid, traveling unaccompanied on public transport.
This isn’t meant to be a litany of woe is me and my friends. Rape, sexual assault, assault with sexual undertones and violence underlying it is a constant threat. Rape has been used as a weapon against women since the beginning of time. It is used to tame, silence and demonstrate power over women regularly. And currently in England and the US, two supposedly educated nations, it is headline news. From Julian Assange to Todd Akin; what is rape rape? What is legitimate rape? Why don’t these women just roll over and open their legs, whether they are asleep or awake and let us get on with our manly business.
These aren’t tears of sadness, they are tears of fury. People wonder why rape is only reported a quarter of the time? Because the cops and the people on the benches of so called justice are asking what they were wearing, they are silently asking if it is forcible, legitimate, real, actual, rape. Or just a misunderstanding. Or just a little bad sexual etiquette. Something has to give, the fury and rage that is being expressed on twitter is just the tip of the iceberg. Women need to come out in force and vote. And the men that we love, the men that we share our stories of abuse with, the men that stand by us, need to vote too. Galloway needs to be shamed out of politics. Assange needs to be prosecuted for the rapes that he committed and Akin needs to resign. And we need to stop electing Neanderthals that hold the belief that rape is anything other than a heinous act.