The Casual Dismissal
By Jessica Passione-Sanchez
I realized the severity of rape culture and undermining victims of sexual assault during what I assume was supposed to be a casual conversation.
I was sitting at a table eating lunch with a bunch of men twice my age. There was clearly a generational gap and our views on almost everything did not match up.
In an attempt to change the subject from politics and my proposed ignorance for voting against their party, we started talking about my long commute on mass transit.
I mentioned that I had a horrible habit of falling asleep on the train when one of them asked what I would do if a guy groped me while I was sleeping.
I think it was an attempt to make a joke, but I responded by saying I hoped that would never happen.
I told them that when I was a teenager a man who had been following me in a car from my high school assaulted me on the steps of a train station in broad daylight.
After the initial shock of realizing a stranger felt that it was acceptable to come into my personal space and force himself on me I fought back and thankfully the man ran back into his car and drove away.
“I don’t believe you,” one of them said. “You’re lying.”
Just like that everything that I had heard about victim-shaming and perpetuating rape culture became so real to me that I didn’t even know how to respond.
I don’t know why he would think I was lying or why he thought it was appropriate to say something like that to the victim of sexual assault.
Well, to be fair, he didn’t believe me in the first place so I guess he didn’t see me as a victim of sexual assault to begin with, right? Still not okay.
A million things ran through my mind as I sat there staring at the man who completely undermined my experience while he shoveled spoons of rice into his mouth in complete ignorance of how demeaning what he just said was.
I had forgiven the man who assaulted me many years ago and got over the fact that he never saw his day in court.
I thanked my lucky stars that I never saw him again and that he never touched any other girls from my high school other than myself and the other girl who went to the cops with me.
While my battle with what happened was long over, I was exposed to a new one, the reality of what it means to have been a victim.
Apparently, there will always be people who don’t believe me, who think I’m lying for some sick reason.
I don’t even want to imagine what victims of rape feel when people call them liars to their face or otherwise.
I spent a long time thinking about how and why someone could not believe a person when they say they’ve been sexually assaulted.
It was just an interesting twist of fate that this conversation I had happened a week after presidential nominee Donald Trump’s p***y-grabbing scandal came and went. More people then I could deal with said that the whole ordeal was a joke and that what he said was not a big deal.
In heated discussions I witnessed about Donald Trump, a lot of people said that the women who were accusing him of sexual assault were liars and that they only did it for attention. The casual displays of rape culture were sickening.
I always knew about the negative affects of rape culture, but it was so much more unbearable when it made its way right into my life over a casual lunch.
Victim shaming has become so normalized that people don’t even realize they are doing it and it is passed off as a joke far too often.
In a survey conducted by Mumset, more than half of the 1,609 female respondents to the survey said the legal system, the media and society at large is unsympathetic to rape victims.
Being unsympathetic toward a victim of any type of sexual misconduct is the most detrimental thing that can be done, and in the end dehumanizes the victim.
“To understand rape culture better, first we need to understand that it’s not necessarily a society or group of people that outwardly promotes rape (although it could be), said Shannon Ridgway in an article for Everyday-
“When we talk about rape culture, we’re discussing something more implicit than that.
We’re talking about cultural practices (that, yes, we commonly engage in together as a society) that excuse or otherwise tolerate sexual violence.”
There’s no excuse for undermining a victim. Ignore the common idea that people have become “too sensitive” and be a decent human being.
Categories: Sex and Relationships