Speak out

I have been very surprised this past week by the response of my friends and colleagues to a situation at the local school. The thing that most surprises me is people's reaction when I start into what is wrong, saying that the girls are being taught to dress appropriately or they may be encouraging unwanted attention. People have mostly responded to this that girls should be taught to dress appropriately. They have also agreed that the way you dress may encourage rape. I have never been so disappointed or felt so alone.

Dress does not encourage or discourage rape. Nothing we do as women deters or encourages a rape. Rape is about the perpetrator having power and control over another human being. I have been raped more than once in my life. It was never about the way I dressed, the way I held my body, the way I said no. It was all about the other person taking control of my body away from me. It was all about shaming me. To say otherwise victimizes the victim again!

I speak out about this today because of the verses in Ephesians where we are supposed to reveal the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). I also speak out because of facts I know one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, if you are a woman of color it goes up to one in three. Unfortunately male numbers are underreported because of cultural stereotypes on being a man. It is not right for anyone to remain silent, or to agree with stereotypes. It would be wonderful if we could walk safely on any street in any neighborhood, but all too often it is not a stranger that does this to us. It is our friends or family members.

I wish there were an easy formula such as dress, body language, or saying a firm no, but there aren't. All these myths do is make a victim silent in the end. It makes victims question themselves after a rape or sexual assault and that is not the person who needs to be self examining. Please be bold and stand for the truth and bring it into the light. Jesus did not let the woman who was caught in adultery be stoned (John 8), will we allow others to stone victims of sexual assault into silence?