It took me 14 years to call myself a survivor of sexual assault.
The first time it happened to me, I was a junior in college.
I knew him. He walked me back to my room after the party at my request. We had a history. I was most definitely flirting with him. I invited him in. I kissed him back. I was into it until he pinned my arms to the bed.
When I couldn't move, I did all the things I had been taught by the "no means no" consent education my generation went through growing up. The consent education that only really applies to stranger rape -- a rarity in sexual assault. Most of us know our attackers. Most of us started in perceived consensual situations. Most of us were assaulted by men who did not understand that what they were doing was rape.
The second through countless next times I was raped, I didn't realize it was happening. We were dating. I was in his bed of my own free will. Well, considering my life circumstances "free will" is rather subjective. And he knew it. There wasn't a way for me to make my life work if I left. So if he came home five hours after a bartending shift which ended with (no exaggeration) 25 shots of Jaegermeister and 20-30 Bud Lights and wanted to have sex, my giving in because it was easier than trying to explain I didn't want to -- THAT'S RAPE. As it turns out. And I didn't realize it. Until about three weeks ago during the #YesAllWomen discussion about male aggression.
There are a number of reasons why survivors don't report. With the Obama administration's new Title IX task force to address sexual assault on campus, there is even some reporting being done on the topic. What we don't talk about much is why so many of us didn't realize we were assaulted or raped or that what happened to us was "bad enough" to be reported and prosecuted.
So, why don't we know? I'd have to insert multiple dissertations on patriarchy, male power, rape culture, abstinence-only sex ed and it's lack of consent discussion, purity expectations and statistics on how long it took to make "marital rape" a prosecutable crime. Oh, and don't get me started on the "no is a temporary obstacle to be overcome" romantic comedy epidemic.
I'm not surprised when crap is written that perpetuates rape culture. That doesn't make it less important to call out and it certainly doesn't make the discussions that crop up around the idiocy less valid. Which brings us to George Will.
George Will -- columnist for the Washington Post and "well respected" conservative talking head -- published a piece yesterday full of victim blaming and a skepticism (aka a denial) that our country's elite universities have a consent problem. He claims that progressivism has invade our educational spaces and caused unnecessary uproar over a non-problem. Here's the Do Not Link version; Trigger Warnings apply. Like big ones. George Will Should Be Fired For This.
Here's the kicker: Will's column wasn't even the first of the weekend. This atrocity from The Daily Beast published thousands of words from the rapist of a public Title IX activist. She went public when Brown University suspended him for a year, meaning she would have been on campus with him as she attempted to graduate. I believe her because I believe survivors. The way this piece of trash was written is an abomination filled with rape apology and victim blaming. That a woman wrote it further enrages me as it should enrage you.
I will not turn away from Will's words. I will not write them off as an aberration or the ramblings of a conservative jerk. He is mostly definitely a conservative jerk, but his position on sexual assault and how survivors are alarmists with a desire to be admired is pervasive in our culture. The courage it took my friend Wagatwe Wajunki to create the sarcastic and powerful #SurvivorPrivilege hashtag is immeasurable. The conversation is happening there right now. I'm writing this through tear-streaked glasses from participating in the thread.
Ask the Washington Post to give equal column space to a survivor by RTing this --
-- and pen/post your own request that they, at the very least, suspend Will for his victim blaming and perpetuation of rape culture. In a society where 20% of women are assaulted on their college and university campuses, high profile platforms like Will's MUST NOT be used to further stigmatize an already underreported crime.
The conversation will continue via #SurvivorPrivilege and on Wednesday in my Tawkers live chat with the badass Title IX activist, Wagatwe Wajunki. Join us for FREE here: "Campus Sexual Assault: It's Personal; if you're new to Tawkers or have questions about the chat, visit our Facebook event and leave a post.
I'll end with a selection of some of the first posts on the hashtag which I encourage everyone who can do so safely to go and read as well as a list of outlets publishing pieces on it that I'll keep updating. Be safe; be well.
Outlets posting about #SurvivorPrivilege:
"The only 'privilege' afforded to campus rape victims is actually surviving" by Jessica Valenti at The Guardian, US
George Will should review the footage of popular reactions when folks like Breitbart or Thatcher died. Prepare your fam, you awful goblin.
— Victorian Prude (@VictorianPrude) June 9, 2014
#SurvivorPrivilege is constantly wondering if I'm going to remember something "new" and then being told I'm making it up
— Anastasia (@vociferous_girl) June 9, 2014
#survivorprivilege is being told by an abusive ex that their sexual enjoyment is ruined because you were raped and don't like being touched.
— Allison Grant (@AllisonGranted) June 9, 2014
#SurvivorPrivilege was fearing my rapist would gut me like a fish with a hunting knife for leaving him.
— Lisa Smith (@misssmithlisa) June 9, 2014
This piece first appeared on katiespeak.com. You can subscribe to the upcoming Katie Speak Mailer for Katie's posts, media appearances, announcements and activism info. Follow Katie on Facebook and Twitter.