You Want To 'Protect' Women In Bathrooms. What About From Actual Rapists?

Stressed Woman Pulling Hair
Stressed Woman Pulling Hair

I keep waiting, but it hasn't happened yet.

A few weeks ago, there were lots of men looking out for the safety of American women everywhere by wanting to ban transgender women from using the ladies' rooms at Target and other public places. We were told how women were precious, how they needed protected from "men in dresses." When the current administration sent out messages to schools giving guidelines on how to treat transgender students, 11 states sued to make sure that our girls are safe in their locker rooms from transgender girls.

Oh, I heard them say that it wasn't REALLY the trans people they were worried about. Sure, there would be plenty of opportunities to call them freaks and perverts. Lots of chances to remind us that there are just a few of them, so why should we bow to their desires. Lots of dismissive language that told trans men and women that their comfort and mental health don't matter in the grand scheme of things.

But no, it wasn't primarily the trans people (especially trans women) that we needed to be protected from. It was the the pedophiles and the voyeurs who would take advantage of the laws. It was the men who would dress up like a woman so they could prey on women in bathrooms. Those were the real threat. Those were the men that needed to be dealt with. Violent men who would do actual harm against women -- those were the men that we needed to be on the lookout for, those were who the men were concerned about. Keep women safe from men who were violent.

So when Stanford rapist Brock Turner got a mere six-month sentence, I started waiting.

Waiting for all of these men to start posting their outrage at the system that so dramatically failed a young woman.

Waiting for petitions to receive millions of signatures demanding stricter sentencing for rapists. Waiting for viral videos of pastors standing outside of the courthouse, speaking in animated tones about what grave injustice was taking place behind those walls.

Waiting for men to share the powerful words of the victim as a reminder that rape has lifetime consequences for those who experience it.

Waiting for men to remind other men that the responsibility not to rape lies with them, not with the women who are raped.

Waiting for these men to prove that their concern for their wives and daughters wasn't really just a mask for the transphobia that they carried and didn't want to be called on.

Instead, I've read a letter from a father saying that his son is being punished too harshly for only ""20 minutes of action," where instead of a perpetrator of a violent crime, he is the victim of alcohol consumption and partying. I've read many times about how many drinks the victim had before she was raped. I've read about how we need to crack down on drinking on college campuses.

I've seen lots and lots of nothing at all from people who just weeks ago were ready to storm the bathroom stalls to make sure their wives and daughters were safe.

Where are you? Where is your outrage when a young woman is penetrated by fingers and leaves and pine needles behind a dumpster while she is unconscious? Where is your disgust for a system that slaps a rapist on the wrist and says, "Well, he probably won't do THAT again." Where is your anger at a culture that has more concern for the impact of jailing a rapist than the impact of a rape?

Weeks ago, we were told that women needed to be protected.

But apparently not from rapists.

A version of this post originally appeared on Knitting Soul.

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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

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