One of the most popular – and perhaps the most consequential – Sexual Assault Awareness presentation I give is on the subject of “Myths and Misunderstandings of Sexualized Violence.”
“ It is only by understanding the widely held false ideas or beliefs about sexual assault that we can begin to challenge them and find real change.”
— ANDREW PARI
The three biggest myths about sexual assault are as follows:
1) Women lie about or falsely report sexual assault.
2) “Normal” men don’t rape. And those that do, just can’t control themselves.
3) Some women are “unrapeable,” while some women actually deserve rape.
While each of these statements may seem unbelievable at first, think about the ways rape is treated in our culture. Do we as a society tend to believe women’s story over men’s? Acknowledge men’s historical status as being valued over women? Does anyone you know think only a certain kind of girl finds herself in the situation to be raped? All of these are misogynistic ideals that we have internalized for centuries and as a culture have only recently begun to unpeel.
When you think about the fact that our judicial system in this country was developed more than two centuries ago and is rooted in even older misguided legal concepts, you realize that we might not have the most supportive system to modern injustices.
In fact, when our country was first being born, rape was seen more as a property crime against a woman’s husband or father than an assault on her person hood.
Women who weren’t believed were ostracized. In the last century, “tooth and nail” laws defined physical violence as the only means to refuse. Most rape laws in the U.S. centering the harm on the victim were only enacted in the 1970's. And yet, over 80 percent of sexual assault cases go unreported today.
So, without overwhelming you with my entire presentation, here are a few ways I like to address the three myths listed above.
In summary, there is no such thing as an unrapeable woman, an uncontrollable man, or a victim who shouldn’t be believed. Sexual assault doesn’t happen for thirty days out of the year, it happens every day. It’s constant, which means our awareness of and dedication to ending it must also be constant.
Photo source https://www.freepik.com/premium-photo/depress-hostage-girl-bedroom_5574701.htm#page=1&query=sexual%20assault&position=5
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