Saturday, June 4, 2016

'A Woman's Worth'

On my birthday a few years ago I was the victim of road rage. Some young, white male in a big truck that made obnoxiously loud noises was not happy that I’d needed to get over, in front of him, into what was apparently “his lane”. He proceeded to ride my bumper while honking, gesturing, taking pictures, and flipping me off. Things escalated when I realized he was following my turns and lane shifts for a few miles. I was shaken enough to call the police, to which I received the response of “well what did you do on the road to make him angry?” from a male officer. I was so taken aback and disturbed, on top of an already traumatic experience, that I literally had to look down at my phone to register that this was, in fact, reality. I wanted to sardonically respond that the officer must be a hit at domestic violence calls, but I knew better. And therein lies the problem: women having to practically walk on eggshells in society as to not disrupt the chord of patriarchal fragility. Sometimes women are able to walk away from the circumstances somewhat unscathed, and other times we are physically, mentally, and emotionally wounded and scarred by the actions and ramifications. This includes a lack of justice.

This morning I read the heart wrenching and vulnerable words of a Stanford rape victim. She had to witness her rapist, Brock Allen Turner, initially found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and facing 14 years in state prison, instead attain a lenient six month county jail and probation sentence from judge Aaron Persky because “he feared a longer sentence would have a ‘severe impact’” on this young, white male with Olympic aspirations. But isn’t experiencing the severe impact of jail time the point when talking about a predator rapist like Turner?

And you know what else? I’m sure the victim has aspirations too. Aspirations to not go through life unable to sleep, wondering what would have happened had the two cyclists not intervened. Aspirations of only sharing positive, uplifting news with her parents instead of bracing them for the news that she had been raped and violated by a stranger behind a dumpster. Aspirations of maintaining a clean bill of health instead of anxiously waiting for HIV and other STD results. Aspirations to not be raped and then subsequently poked and prodded both physically and metaphorically by doctors, nurses, and then opposing counsel. I could go on and on about the victim’s aspirations, trauma, and the severe impact this rape has had on her, but in the eyes of the judge and judicial system, which failed her, all of those things apparently paled in comparison to the well-being of the rapist.

I cried as I read the words of a daughter who tried to stay strong for her parents; a big sister who, despite her ordeal, was focused on her baby sister’s welfare; a girlfriend who didn’t want to break her boyfriend’s heart; a fellow woman who recognized that her assault probably saved other potential victims. I find it paradoxical that the same female bodies that bring life into the world can be viewed with so little regard, and often contempt.

Our bodies are not open season for rapists.
Our reproductive organs are not the details on legislation and laws to be passed by male government officials.
Our bodies, when violated, deserve more justice than a vandalized building or automobile.

I want to cry with this woman. I want to go kickboxing with this woman. I want to sit and drink tea with this woman in complete silence or complete belligerence. I want her to know that she is brave and that I am proud of her and am here for her. We may never meet, but I will always lift her up and wish her well.