I honestly don’t know how to begin writing this. More than a year has passed since the Stanford rape happened yet it has only been days since the issue blew up when the verdict was passed, and since then I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It wasn’t just that the rapist got a light sentence, it wasn’t just that this case is high profile although I have always had great interest in those. It was the fact that the father of this boy went ahead and downplayed the crime that his son did – and they both went as far as hiring professional witnesses, manipulating statements after finding out that the victim couldn’t remember anything, and re-victimizing the lady just so they can find something to use against her.
I have been looking for a way to participate in actions against the sentence from this side of the world, only to find out a couple of hours ago that amidst the public outcry, his 6-month sentence might even be cut in half as stated by county sheriff. And so resigned, I decided that the best form of action I have is to speak up and address something else; something that goes beyond speaking out about faulty justice systems, entitled schoolboys, and rape culture because there are already so much of that (although I have also done quite that on my Facebook page 🙈).
Our sexually-stimulated culture has been desensitized to both men and women being objectified. Ogling someone of the opposite gender can be done blatantly with no repercussions; catcalls and hot stares follow the footsteps of almost every person who ever dare walk the streets alone; fear and anxiety prickle through the body whenever the darkness of the night begins to hide the light.
Low whistles, undressing gazes, and “accidental” brushes have marked my almost every turn since I was 11, a mere freshman in high school. I have had guys who appeared well-mannered approach me in places I deemed safe, proving my first impression wrong when they start crossing personal boundaries. It didn’t matter if I was wearing my school uniform, loose sweater and jeans, or a tight-fitting top and short shorts – they were relentless. At first, I was a fireball – snapping and angrily staring back at whoever dares to hoot at me, only realizing afterwards that the aggressiveness arouses boys even more and so I have learned to keep my mouth shut. I have learned that should I make the wrong move, I would be accused for “stimulating” these boys by the way I dress, the way I move, or the way I speak. I have learned that maybe the best way to stay safe was to keep quiet. I have learned to ignore the stares, brush off the suggestive words, shake away the lingering hands, and quickly walk straight ahead with my head steely held high – barely batting an eyelash while my friends and siblings get riled up and angry for my sake. Each and every time they do, I tell them not to, acting like I was okay even when my heart and body were rigid. I tell them to shake it off, always pretending that being near strange males did not make me feel paralyzed and paranoid, never sharing how many times I only pretend to be brave. I don’t tell them of how often I have to convince myself to give guys I don’t know the benefit of the doubt still; of how hard I have to fight my defensive stance in desire to be gracious and not be judgmental. I tell them to let it be because getting upset won’t change a thing and having accepted that fact, I have gotten used to it.
When was it ever okay for human beings to get used to this – being treated like an animal displayed in a zoo? When was it ever okay to steal a person’s dignity with a single look, a single word, a single touch; with 20 minutes of action?
The image of the Creator sketched into the face of the beloved – vandalized. The worth the Savior has declared when He died so humanity can live – denied.
How can we go back to the design of the Father, leading children in the way that they should go – mothers raising kids who know the value of women, fathers raising children with strength that serves others? How can we not be like Adam and Eve who looked for someone to blame, and instead learn to be accountable for our actions, humbly accepting the mistakes we have made and the consequences that come with them?
People, the decisions we make when we are “provoked” only speak of what is truly in our hearts. An attractive person passed out drunk isn’t “asking for it.” A woman dressed provocatively or a man walking around topless doesn’t mean they want to be jumped by a breathing organism who can’t keep hormones under control. Act like you are of honor because you are, no matter what the circumstance. Your actions are completely your own. Take responsibility for your body so precious that it had to be paid for in blood.
Because men, this is how God loves women: that when He chose to enter the world, He chose to do so by entrusting Himself to a woman. He believed in her strength to stand with her head held high amidst rumors and scandals. He hid Himself inside her womb and allowed Himself to be cared for by her love and gentleness. When a scandalous woman laid at His feet and His disciples were outraged, He defended her, protected her, and lifted her high in spite of her reputation. He never would have leered at her or made sexual insinuations. When He rose again, He decided to reveal Himself first to women, commissioning them to testify even when no man would believe in a woman’s testimony at the time. He made them heroes and gave them regard in a time when culture wouldn’t. He saw them for who they are – human beings of respect and value completely in their own right. Who are we to not do the same?
And women, this is how God loves men: that He chose to reveal Himself in masculine form. He entrusted to man the task and authority to rule over His crearion. Time and time again He had believed in a seemingly ordinary man’s ability and proceeded to use this man to bring change that impacted peoples and nations. The Bible has acknowledged good-looking men several times and yet aside from fleeting mentions of that fact, they were ultimately upheld for their accomplishments, their character, and their integrity. He Himself walked the streets of earth as a man with no impressive physical acclaim, wanting to be known not for how He looks but how He loves. Men have failed Him over and over again yet He continues to trust in their strength amidst weakness. He taught them how to be men, He never gave them an excuse to not be men, He never robbed them of being men. Who are we to not do the same?
This is the truth – that every crevisce of every being to walk this planet was carefully crafted by God; that Christ’s body was battered and His blood flowed out in torrents just so His love can be felt by every soul. And as a people, let us not allow the world to destroy what He built. Let us make our voices heard. Let us make our lives speak. In a world where only 3 out of every hundred rapists are arrested, let us fight for justice. In a nation where 1 out of 4 experience physical or sexual violence, let us fight to speak up. In a city where we have to keep looking over our shoulder in fear, let us be unmoved in courage. In a generation that pushes obscenity and vulgarism, let us be undeterred in purity and respect. In a culture where everyone bends, let us stand. Because this, this is the heart of a true Father.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
For everyone interested in this particular Stanford case, you can sign a petition ousting the judge through the White Houses’s WeThePeople here or through change.org here. If you live in the United States, you can file for a recall by mailing a complaint. Please send me an email or a message through the contact box placed somewhere on the right of this webpage and I will send you the format and the details. I know it may not seem like much but at this point, this is the most action we can do and it matters. Thank you!
Featured image from The Guardian article, photo by Tessa Ormenyi. Note that I wrote this in such a way to acknowledge that both men and women experience rape and abuse. I understand rape culture and its bias against women but I chose to state things in a way that highlights value and respect on both accounts.