Stance: Standards

 

Survivor letter

(Image from the Buzzfeed article linked below)

 

 

There is a saying in military circles that “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”.

This statement is one that must be brought to bear in how we deal with rape culture. The guts of the phrase is that if you ignore something then you accept it as okay. It’s a useful quote which could highlight the vital change which needs to happen to ensure we alter the culture which promotes and normalizes sexual violence and shifts blame onto the victims of sexual assault, and as a result demeans everyone who is subject to it, male and female. It starts with not ignoring the way women are treated.

I appreciate the irony in my invocation of this military go to phrase with respect to sexual violence and harassment and this 2015 BBC piece highlights the need for change in attitudes toward sexual assault and discrimination deepens that irony considerably.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

I don’t want to give more column inches to the decision of a Palo Alto judge to give a frat boy swimmer a mere six month sentence for raping an unconscious woman in a despicable campus attack. I don’t even want to write his name. A person whose name I will write, happily, is that of Carl-Fredrik Arndt, one of the two grad students who caught view of that “twenty minutes of action” (as referred to by the rapists father in his letter to the court) and intervened. He told the court: “She was unconscious. The entire time. I checked her and she didn’t move at all.” He added: “The guy stood up then we saw she wasn’t moving still. So we called him out on it. And the guy ran away, my friend Peter [Jonsson] chased after him.”

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

There are two examples here: One – the lenient sentence of a mere six months for a stranger rape – he’s a good boy who would have suffered a “severe impact” from a lengthy jail sentence. Two – calling out someone who was clearly cloaked in the confidence of anonymity in his offending. Were it not for these witnesses this woman would be another confused victim, amongst a sea of abused female students, of a faceless threat. The frat party rapist might well have never been caught and be at liberty to re-offend.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

The victim’s own response to this case called on the judge to recognise how differently the two parties were treated by the court system – how differently the two parties were dealt with by outsiders looking in. In this emotive victim impact statement which read out to the court, seeming to little effect, the woman describes what this has done to her, all of it.. Dear Reader I implore you to read it – bear witness.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

I’ve never been the victim of rape, but I have been the victim of sexual assault on a number of occasions. I’ve been groped on countless occasions by men who think it’s acceptable to take hold of a woman by the mere fact she is present and it’s his wish to do so. There was one occasion, when I was in my early twenties, when my breast was wholly grabbed by a lad at the end of a line of young men on a night out, just enjoying themselves, as I too was. He didn’t get away with it though. I grabbed his hand and got him, somehow, into a singlehanded wrist lock. I wasn’t having this. I wanted to find a member of her majesty’s constabulary and have this person arrested. I felt humiliated, demeaned and unsafe. Suddenly I was surrounded by his friends, not in a particularly oppressive way, saying sorry and begging me to let him go for the sake of their night. “He’s not normally like this.” “Please don’t get him in trouble.” I didn’t want to let go, but the boy I had gripped up was just looking lost and confused. Then my friend said I should let him go and, just like that, I did and the boys ran off into the night. I’d felt bad, thinking that he was a “good guy” who I would be “getting into trouble”. In moments I’d set aside how it had made me feel, minimized it and even come to sympathy with someone who had assaulted me. This isn’t the only time I have been touched, groped, approached and cornered by men, harassed and abused by men in the street.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

You’re not a rapist for being a man – but the second you deny the lived experience of sexual harassment, sexual offences you are complicit in rape culture. You’re expressing that it is something women should endure and never talk about. If you see a woman being sexually harassed in the street you’re not a sexual harasser, but do nothing at all and you’re announcing loud and proud that it is okay. Please acknowledge this and challenge it. Listen to us. We are not lying. The men who do this do it when they feel safe – when they either outnumber the female or they are just happy they have the physical advantage – they should not have the comfort and space needed to do this to women. Make such men feel it is not a safe to harass women in this way.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

This is also a rallying cry to women – let’s stop with the “No, no. I’m okay.” If a man or another woman puts themselves out there to say what we have just experienced is not acceptable, let’s do the damn courtesy of having their back too. Let’s be honest, let’s say “No, it’s not okay.” Sexual assault, sexual harassment, is never the fault of the victim. But now the time has come to draw the line on every occasion, lets not minimise this any more.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

Pretty much if you hear a man say something to a woman that you wouldn’t think he’d get away if she was walking with a man is unacceptable. Women are our own sovereign nation. We’re tired of having to carry our history of sexual assault in informing risk assessments on where we can walk alone, how we can dress, how we drink, how we behave, how we can deal with men talking to us in the street.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

Let us raise the standard. Let us not accept this. Rape Culture is unacceptable.

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3 comments

  1. midcenturycurves · June 7, 2016

    Thanks for this post. This case has been haunting me. I’m not sure why this case and not others. Maybe the victim’s statement or the light sentence or the father’s attitude. “20 minutes of action”? WHAT. THE. FUCK???? Maybe it’s the social media frenzy. I don’t know. But this woman’s statement had me in tears, and I don’t even know her. We need to change the culture.

    Here’s an example of how every single one of us can start to change culture. Let’s stop using the phrase “consentual sex,” as if it’s opposite is “nonconsentual sex.” No. There is “sex,” and there is “rape.” Don’t sugarcoat it. Say the words. Rape. Assault. Attack.

    Thanks again for the post. May I share it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • lilithinfurs · June 7, 2016

      Please do. I agree 100% on sex-rape terminology. Like you this case has infuriated me because of the blatant male privilege showcased by it

      Liked by 1 person

  2. midcenturycurves · June 7, 2016

    *its

    Liked by 1 person

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