That awkward moment when inanimate objects are heard more than women

Let’s be honest, if you’re one of those people who finds themselves telling those around them that victim blaming isn’t a thing, you’re full of shit. After the Belfast trial, the derogatory language used against the victim,  Brock Turner’s pitiful sentence and Brett Kavanaugh, not to mention our general attitudes to people we know who have done the unspeakable. Why are we so focused on the victim and why is it, that for women who are victims of rape, a certain amount of responsibility falls on them, making it okay to traumatise them further in court? Does this happen in any other crime where bodily harm has occurred? No, it doesn’t, so why in this instance?

A story broke recently about a thong being used as evidence in a rape trial, a thong I might add, whose owner is a seventeen year old girl. Now, the rant about women’s clothing and the function of certain pieces of women’s clothing could potentially find its way in here but it is perfectly relevant. Thongs can’t speak and even if they could, I’m pretty sure raping their wearer isn’t something they’d request. What I find myself asking these days is, why are we so fixated on what women and teenage girls are wearing but children and men are not interrogated about their attire at all, why is that?

In the case of children, it is just horrifying that someone would even consider doing such a thing, but rape, regardless of its victim is a heinous act and we should be equally as horrified when it happens to adults. Men can be attractive when wearing certain things too, they can be sexually attractive on the basis of their attire yet in the event that they are raped they are never asked about what they were wearing. That said, I understand that the majority of rapes committed against men also go unreported but when they are reported, at what point does what they were wearing when they were attacked come into question?

A thong is not a reason to violate someone and how did the rapist know she was wearing one? As he began to violate her? So the thong is irrelevant. Thongs are worn, I might add, for a number of reasons, not all to do with sex but also the following;

  • Skinny jeans, thongs don’t result in your underwear lining being shown.
  • Pencil skirts, fitted and unforgiving so thongs are best because the outline won’t show.
  • Yes, they can be sexy and in a world where women are under relentless pressure to look “perfect”, sometimes it’s nice to wear sexy underwear for yourself to feel better on days when you’re not feeling so confident and it’s not just thongs. Women know that feeling when your underwear matches and for a moment it feels like you’ve got your shit together, don’t you dare even begin to deny it.
  • Consensual bedroom activities where one wants to look nice for their partner, who they have chosen to have sex with, consciously and willingly.

As a now and then thong wearer, I can honestly say that I have never worn them in the hopes that someone would take advantage of me, violate me and use the type of underwear I happened to be wearing as a defence in court. If she had been wearing underwear that covered her more, would he have stopped there? Somehow, I doubt that, granny panties would not have prevented him from raping her, after all this isn’t based on attraction and sex, this about asserting dominance over another person. Fixating on the mistakes the victim supposedly made makes the rapist more confident and the fact that even when convicted, how many rapists have actually served a full sentence? None, unless you count the ones that were convicted of murder.

You might be thinking “ah sure,they’re calling for reform now though..” yeah the chief executive of a rape crisis centre is going to do that because you know, they help victims, victims that we as a society are failing, every single day. The chief executive of an organisation that is trying to pick up the pieces of a person’s life that you fail to acknowledge and try to reform a messed up justice system. When are we going to value a person’s life and right to bodily autonomy over a monster’s athletic ability? Anyone have anything they’d like to ask the rapist? You know, the one on trial?

As a college student I have seen many sides and attitudes to this issue, people whose blood boils at the thought of such a thing, people who question out of control alcohol consumption, people who question provocative clothing and people who vandalise posters about consent and troll anyone who dares to demand that things change be it online or on campus. There is a lot of apathy on campuses, many feel targeted by consent classes and the focus any other aspect of a rape case that isn’t a woman’s underwear.

Why can’t we acknowledge that this is an issue? Why are people so hateful towards those trying to tackle it? Is it the lack of culpability online or the desensitised group mentality that’s to blame? Are we completely disconnected from this? It sure seems that way. The idea of the dodgy guy in the alley only further distances us from an issue that in reality is so much closer to home than we realise. People are sexually harassed and assaulted in high numbers every day, women walking alone have developed strategies to protect themselves and hide themselves in plain sight. Why are we not talking about this? Why do we keep postponing the conversation? Because it’s hard? Who told you anything in life was gotten easily?

We can’t shy away from challenging topics like this, not something so awful and life altering. We also can’t deny that feminism is needed, if a little girl’s night gown isn’t asking for it then neither is that of an adult woman.

Consent does not begin at the first glimpse of her underwear, it starts before the first button on her jeans becomes undone, it starts before a hand finds its way there, before the first kiss, before even leaning in. Consent starts with both parties actively acknowledging where this is going and of course, both are conscious and fully aware. Especially that last one, in case you didn’t know that..