Existing while being a woman: Sexual Assault

Hello people who are reading this! Continuing on my series about my experience as a young woman, I will be talking about sexual assault.

In the mall behind those colour-coded mall-maps, in buses on their overhead posters, in Facebook chain-shares, I am always made aware about the scary reality about sexual assault. The latest one I’ve noticed features balloons like the sort you give at baby showers or to people in hospitals. These balloons say something along the lines of “Congratulations it’s a girl” and “She has a 50% chance of being physically or sexually assaulted in her life time.” The ad in question is from the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Another psa-type Facebook-share pronounced that one quarter of women in the U.S. will be victims of attempted or completed rape during their lifetimes.I personally know many victims of sexual assault. I read websites like xojane where women tell their stories of survival. It’s glaring reality in my life.

As a woman, I live in a world where I have to be careful not the get sexually assaulted. I get nervous when I walk around after dark. I am incredibly distrustful at parties and I am super vigilant about the location of any drink I may be consuming at a social event (club or otherwise.) I even get anxious feelings when on my way to hang out with guy friends I know and trust. Because did know that sexual assaults are most often perpetrated by someone you know? According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) 73% of sexual assaults are committed by non-strangers, 38% of rapists are friends or acquaintances and 21% are intimates. HOW ALARMED ARE YOU RIGHT NOW? I’M ALARMED.

Even more alarming in my opinion is the whole “blame the victim” mentality that exists. Look to the recent victims of gang rape in India or the high-school-aged girls in the states repeatedly slut-shamed for being victims of sexual assault. The recent article posted by Emily Yoffe tellin college girls not to drink in order to avoid sexual assault (which received VERY mixed reviews.) Look, I understand that as a young woman I should probably be extra-cautious. I personally make the choice to watch my drink at parties, to avoid walking home late at night as much as humanly possible, to check-in with girlfriends when we go out. HOWEVER, if I do all these things or I don’t do all these things – sexual assault is not MY fault. Even if a girl gets black out drunk at a party, it is NOT her fault she got raped. She was not asking for it, she did not “get what was coming to her.” PERIOD. Honestly, it’s sad people are still unclear about this.

So not only do I have to contend with the paralyzing fear of being sexually assaulted whenever I leave my house BUT I have to worry that there is a chance I’ll be blamed, slut-shamed, and disbelieved if it ever happened.

Here are some posts from my favourite website (xojane) on sexual assault, for some perspective.

For the last time, only rapists are responsible for rape.

Why a young girl cannot consent to sex with an adult man.

A woman talking about her own rape (trigger warning: I cried while reading this.)

How to treat a rape survivor

AND AN AWESOME ARTICLE EXPLAINING WHAT RAPE CULTURE IS, IN CASE YOU HAD ANY DOUBTS (If you read any article, read this one.)

 

Advertisements

Existing while being a woman: What’s wrong with being a girly girl?

As I began to get ready today I had a two-second moment of panic. I could not find my Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Primer. After the brief moment where my heart stopped, I found it under my boyfriend’s hat. I laughed at myself for getting to momentarily worried over primer. Who knows what would happen if I misplaced my foundation. I smirked a bit to myself and mentally called myself “such a girl” as if that was a bad thing. 

BOOM

Post inspiration. 

Image

I have been super girly all of my life. I only wanted to wear dresses when i was younger and my favourite colour has always been pink (except for grade 3 I think when all I wanted to wear was turquoise, weird year for me.) I get distracted when I see anything glittery, my nails are always done, and I’ve amassed a sizeable make-up collection. As I write this, I am wearing pink polkadot socks with cats on them. For some bizarre reason though, I feel slightly ashamed of my glaring female-ness. As if somehow there is something wrong with being a girly girl. 

Why is this?

I think part of it has to do with identifying as a feminist. I have read countless posts on various fairly feminist websites (xojane, bitchtopia etc.) about the inner struggle women have around wearing make-up whilst being a feminist. It is generally accepted that women’s beauty has been a tool for the repression of women in our society. For anyone who is familiar with The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (if you aren’t familiar, go read it NOW), she explains this concept quite convincingly. For me to wear make-up and behave according to the societal norm for women’s look, it feels like I’m being complacent with the “beauty myth” (go read the book.)

Another reason I struggle with being a girly girl is because I am told (by society and by peers) that I am too girly. Funny enough, girls who dress more like tomboys are told that they are not girly enough. What is the perfect level of girly-ness? I think I am right in ascertaining that there isn’t one. No matter what, I will be told I am too this or too that. While I am incredibly girly, I will always be told I am too girly. Welcome to being part of the female gender. 

One of the biggest issues I encounter with being more “feminine” (wtf is femininity supposed to look like anyways?) is that people assume I’m less intelligent. Yes I carry a huge purse to school instead of a backpack, and yes my pencil case is pink, no I am not dumb. I do really well in school, I excel at writing essays, and I read historical non-fiction for fun. I will debate with anyone about anything and usually I win using logic, relentlessness, and an aptitude for sounding convincing coupled with whatever information on the subject I have access to. Sadly, people often exclaim they are surprised I am so smart or knowledgeable or whatever.

Join me soon (sorry for sounding like a talk show host) for my next post in this series on sexual assault.