The one thing that has been told to me countless times that absolutely pisses me off is this: “If you were to say something to them, then they wouldn’t do it.” By this, the speaker is telling me that if I were to say something to a person who is touching me in an inappropriate way without my consent then they would leave me alone. Two things. One: that is hardly ever true. Two: sexual assault and harassment is not up to the survivor to stop; it is up to the perpetrator.
We live in a world where sexual assault survivors, of every gender, are getting blamed for the harassment that they survive through. It is NOT the job of the survivor to prevent sexual assault. Using the ‘wisdom’ of the several people who have spoken to me about their apparently extensive background in sexual assault prevention, the “don’t touch me” method should work and should end all instances of sexual assault/harassment. NO will always mean NO, but it must be remembered that many choose not to hear the no and override it with their own desires. The problem is that much of society knows that there is a problem but does not know how DEEP the roots of the problem are. The amount of times that I have been told, or even my friends have been told that we should look at the way that we present ourselves before we complain about people thinking that they have automatic consent to touch us is also outrageous. It seems that nothing has changed, and that people still believe that “asking for it” is real. In no sane world does the way that anyone dress give anyone the “privilege” of touching them as they please. That is a theory that follows the Jezebel archetype of all of the African American women who were *TRIGGER WARNING* raped daily by their slave owners for the sole reason that African Americans were seen to be as naturally sexual, promiscuous beings due to some of their desirous body types. Are we still living in the 1800s and early 1900s? Honestly, these days it really seems like it sometimes. In no way does the way a person dress EVER consent to ANYONE touching them in a way that has not been consented.
The only way that sexual assault can be prevented is by teaching the perpetrators how NOT to be a mindless, sexual predator. If you cannot handle yourself around beautiful people whom you are attracted to, then do not put yourself around them until you can learn how to handle yourself. If you cannot wait until a person gives you consent to have sex with them, then you should not be having or thinking about having sex. It is never, in any world, justifiable to touch a person in a way that is not consented by them. It does not matter if you are drunk and have no inhibitions, if you cannot control your actions when intoxicated, then it would be better for society if you stay sober because you are choosing to put others at risk by becoming intoxicated. We need to work towards a society that teaches people to practice behaviors that leads them to become respectful individuals that do NOT violate others. A person should not have to feel that precautions need to be taken that will lessen their chances of getting sexually assaulted, because they should not have to be flooded with that worry in the first place.
The problem with the culture of sexual assault is that it is all over the place. There are jokes about *TRIGGER WARNING* rape that flood the media through memes, movies, television shows, and straight forward posts by individuals. Making such terrible situations into jokes only further worsens the problem, because then society will not see the issue as pressing as it is. In NO single way is the situation of *TRIGGER WARNING* rape a joke; and if you find yourself surrounded by individuals that find it to be a laughing manner then I suggest you set them straight and then find a new group of friends.
FIGHT this culture. FIGHT the system. FIGHT for survivors.
*I used the terms *TRIGGER WARNING* rape and sexual assault interchangeably throughout this piece at times. Both are unacceptable and each are equally bad experiences. *