I’m dreadfully confused by something, and I would be eternally grateful if someone could explain it to me in a coherent and logical fashion. Why is it that, in 2013, we still have to address the fact that rape is wrong? Why is it that people still think it’s okay to blame the victim for what happened to them?

The sad thing is that I realise how our culture perpetuates this. I’m not oblivious to the fact that even our rhetoric against rape continues to promote the same mentality that allows for it. I haven’t somehow missed all of the talk about how our “hook-up culture” perpetuates this “rape culture,” even if though I don’t agree with it at all.

Through all of this, I fail to understand why we are grieving the loss of the rapists (only to later to be outraged that people are calling you out for your response rather than rightfully apologising for it). I don’t understand why people continue to say that the victim is responsible, the victim’s actions gave good reason for this to happen, or using speculation to shame the victim.

I’m sure there are people who will be more eloquent than me (and I’ve probably linked to them somewhere in this post), and I know that I’m not the only one outraged over the responses. I’m not the only person who is upset over the fact that this (and any other) victim can be publicly shamed for speaking out against the wrong and improper actions of another person. What makes this even worse is that these people have visual evidence, and it doesn’t seem to matter. (Not that the visual evidence should ever be a necessity.)

And people constantly chime in with nonsense like “she shouldn’t have been drunk” or “she shouldn’t have been such a slut.”

You people realise it doesn’t matter, right? She’s not responsible for what they did to her; it’s not her fault, regardless of how drunk she was or how she was dressed. There is nothing any one of you can say to explain away how wrong it is to rape someone. There is nothing that nullifies the fact that violating another human being should never be done. No one can tell me that there is ever a reason for it to happen.

It doesn’t matter what I wear. It doesn’t matter if I’m being friendly. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had too much to drink. It doesn’t matter whether or not my lifestyle includes casual sex. It doesn’t matter who I’ve had sex with in the past. None of that matters at all. Those are not reasons to rape someone; those are not actions that give you consent. Those are all choices I’ve made, and they do not give you the right to lay one finger on me without my consent.

What does matter is that it is always wrong to rape someone. It is up to you to realise that it is wrong to have sex with someone who cannot consent; it is up to you to realise that a person who is passed out drunk is vulnerable and not an object to have sex with. It’s up to you to understand that there are boundaries and that only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’. This applies to all people.

I really hope that the victim of Steubenville (and, really, she is the victim of an entire community, not just the two rapists) has seen that there is immense support, even in the face of all the negativity thrown about on social networks. I hope that all victims, regardless of whether or not they’ve reported anything, understand that there are people out there that support them. There are people who realise that they are not at fault for what happened to them; there are people out there who realise that their attackers are disgusting excuses for human beings.

People who want to see society advance enough to be understanding of the fact that there is never a good excuse to rape someone really do exist. Maybe one day they’ll achieve this goal, but it’s something we really need to keep working toward.

This conversation needs to keep going because something needs to change.

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