Christine Fox (@SteenFox) shared a story on Twitter about a 13-year-old boy who was accused of raping his disabled grandmother (in her 60’s), after he attempted to rape his grandmother’s home health nurse. This violent and sickening crime inspired Christine to start a powerful conversation on Twitter about rape culture, victim blaming and the age-old belief that women ask to be raped based on what they wear or how they act. So she asked:
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Rape is an act of violence, not an act of sexual desire. So to say that what a woman wears directly reflects her being attacked is just foolishness. Rapists choose women based on their vulnerability not their physical appearance, which is why many women (especially those who responded to Christine) were wearing pajamas, or nothing at all (as they were sleeping in their beds with their significant other).
Women are often blamed for their rapes and assaults and critics ask us to dress less provocatively or don’t be so flirty, but honestly, many rapes happen regardless of what the woman or the child is wearing. According to RAINN, 73 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. These stats are extremely accurate, according to the victims who responded to Christine on Twitter. I wonder if there are any stats for rapes in correlation to attire?
Women and girls of all ages, classes, culture, ability, sexuality, race and faith are raped. Reports show that there is a great diversity in the way targeted women act or dress. Christine’s passion truly helped ignite a conversation that needed to happen in real time, with real women. “I was trying to make him understand that it absolutely does not make a difference, and that the responsibility does not lie on women,” she told The Root.
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Christine’s question took a turn for viral when a plethora of women responded on Twitter. The outfits they said they were wearing at the time of their attacks were not itty bitty bikinis, cut off shorts and a crop top or any other type of barely there attire that many ignorant people claim beg for attention or “deserve” to be assaulted. In many cases, women were in pajamas, baggy jeans and some of them were even bundled up in coats.
“It’s amazing how so many people remember exactly what they had on. They remember what it smelled like in the house, they remember what they ate. I didn’t know that other people had those experiences, because I hadn’t asked,” Christine said. As this story grew wings and went from Twitter to several popular websites, including Buzzfeed, many of the women who courageously shared their stories, regretted it because of the public attention. As a part of the media, I want to be responsible in my reporting and careful not to revictimize the women who were brave enough to share their memories of rape. Please see Christine’s timeline for the approved Tweets from victims. (I don’t want to make the same mistake other sites did in sharing victim’s Tweets in such a public way).
Christine put a spotlight on the sheer power of social media. Instead of Twitter being used as a place to pointlessly share the menial parts of our lives, Christine discovered a conversation that needed to be public. Thank you Christine. Let me know whatever it is that I can do to help you keep this conversation going. Let’s chat @Rhapsodani.
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