If you are a sexual assault survivor and are suffering after the last week, please reach out to experts who can help. https://www.rainn.org
No, boys will not be boys.
No, this wasn’t just “the way things were in the 80s” (as if sexual assault was no big deal back then).
But yes, we all knew the rapey boys. the horn dogs. The predators. The ones who assaulted drunk people. Sometimes they gang raped, whole groups of “nice boys” raping a passed out person, one after another. Sometimes they held a person down on the bed and said you know you want it. Always after the victim was a slut. Almost always after people knew. Lots of people. Especially the young people. But a fair share of adults knew too.
Consent wasn’t an issue we talked about back then. The buddy system was. Go to a party without a buddy, you were asking for it. Stay at a party without a buddy, what did you think would happen?
No, it didn’t always happen.
But it happened enough that if it didn’t happen to you, you personally knew someone it had happened to.
My freshman year at university a police officer met with us before we went dancing at college night at a local club.
“If a person is too drunk to say no, it’s not yes. If a person changes their mind it’s not yes.
Use the buddy system.
Watch out for each other.”
Some people in the room thought the warnings were weird, but most of us knew the truth.
We’d watched people destroyed because there were men in our lives who viewed people as sexual objects, the end. We’d watched people harassed and bullied non-stop after getting caught alone at a party. Or for daring to speak up about their abuse.
A couple years later most of us in that room knew at least one someone who’d committed suicide after her rape at a party. All of us knew people who chose to keep the trauma quiet and move on with life because it was easier that way or because they felt they were to blame for their own assault.
I don’t know why I thought we’d changed as a society after those years.
I thought we’d learned, grown up. We’d read Speak. Consent was a normal part of conversation now. Wasn’t it?
But then this week happened.
We haven’t grown at all.
It’s still her fault or alcohol’s fault or boys being boys, as if rape were the norm. As if alcohol was a green light to sexually assault people.
But one thing has changed. People are DONE letting rape culture perpetuate without fighting back.
No one has to reveal their trauma. No one has to write their #metoo moment for the world to see and share and rage over.
But we can.
We can also make sure our children understand consent completely.
I heard a story on NPR about a middle school girl who led the charge to make consent part of sex education in her state.
She had to fight to make it happen because some legislators in her state said “consent” implied it was okay to have sex. Those legislators are the problem, and their days in government are numbered.
Whatever else happens after this week I hope it leads to constant conversations about consent, and I never want to hear boys will be boys again. Because no, most men don’t automatically decide rape or attempted rape is fine when they’re drunk. Not even if they’re teenagers.
*This week has left so many people hurting. Whether they choose to share their #metoo or not, those impacted by sexual assault have had the trauma constantly brought to the surface this week. Hugs to all.
If you’re hurting and can handle levity right now, my daughter shared this with me.
Language alert, but it made me feel better.