Today I want to share about something that is not related to fitness or Kayla.
#NotOkay When I was 13 years old I was inappropriately touched by a group of boys outside of a Chicago skating rink. I was not scantily dressed. I was not acting provocatively. I was NOT asking for it. Yet somehow, I was ashamed and dirty.
Although they blocked the only route to get to my intended destination, I had reasoned with myself that this was somehow my fault. My 13-year-old body although mature for its age, was not screaming out to be touched, groped or fondled; yet it was. To this day I still wonder why.
Recently, more women are beginning to speak out on situations like these and ask exactly that question. These situations that unknowingly shape them into the women they are today. These situations that can alter the course of a women’s life forever.
Although this is not a new subject, women have began to speak out on twitter using the hash tag #NotOkay. This was after the 2016 U.S Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, was heard on an audio recording saying that it was “okay” to “grab a woman by the p*ssy”.
Using the #NotOkay hash tag, Kelly Oxford encouraged Twitter users to speak up about the first time they were sexually abused or assaulted. Who would have known that within 2 days she would receive over 27 million tweets?
The #NotOkay hash tag brought to light the atrocities that the average woman faces on a daily basis. However, most of these stories didn’t originate from the women we see today. These stories instead originated from the girls they once were.
It is alarming to see how many women were violated before they even reached puberty. Numerous encounters were with family members, stepfathers or older boys. What does this say about how we raise our men? Is it safe to assume that they are being taught to prey on the weaker more vulnerable vessel for the sake of their on selfish desires?
Although initially close to 30 million tweets, that number continues to grow. These stories bring to light memories that countless women attempt to push to the back of their mind. These are the same memories that many times no one else is aware of.
There are many reasons why these stories may never be shared. Some of these reasons may be personal and others more obvious. Common reasons include:
- Fear that no one will believe them
- Shame that the situation has occurred
- Not wanting to take the blame for the situation
- Fear that the outcome will not be positive
- Lack of a healthy support system
Recently Women’s Health Magazine shared the story of 8 celebrity women who were victims of sexual assault. These women who the world views as powerful, iconic and at times, untouchable surprisingly held the same secrets that many average women do today. This list included the likes of Amy Schumer, Viola Davis, Lady Gaga and even Madonna.
I challenge you to look around your inner circle, the circle of women you love, know and respect – has any one of those women been sexually abused? Unfortunately, we all know at least one or more women who have been abused, assaulted or inappropriately touched. This woman may even be you. Why is this normal?
The National Sexual Violence Research Center shows that one in 5 women in college have been sexually assaulted in the U.S. Even with this alarming statistic, they also report that only 37% of rape is reported. This makes sexual assault one of the most under reported crimes.
The worst thing that we can do after someone who is sexually abused is nothing at all. The next worse thing that can be done is to let them believe that their rape didn’t matter and that their attacker’s life means more than theirs.
People Vs. Brock Turner
Unfortunately, this behavior has happened time and time again. This is evident with the Case of Brock Turner. If you are unfamiliar with the story, Brock Turner was a Stanford student who was found by 2 cyclists behind a dumpster on top of an unconscious woman.
Turner attempted to flee the scene but was apprehended by the cyclists. Soon after, emergency services were called and Turner was arrested. The victim, who woke hours later, said she did not consent to any sexual activity and was subsequently given a rape kit. The rape kit confirmed the assumptions.
It was later found that the victim and Turner had attended the same party where he made several advances at her with no avail. A voicemail that the victim later left with her boyfriend was used as evidence in her case. This alone proved that she was not coherent enough to consent.
In the end, despite the boatload of evidence against Turner, the two formal charges of rape against him were dropped. After serving only 3 months in jail, he was released. The presiding judge said that his youthful look and his remorse toward the victim deemed him eligible for a more moderate punishment, which he was given. This is the same judge who, because of this decision, is having his past cases reexamined.
Imagine that you were the victim. After going out and having drinks with friends, you awaken at 4 A.M with dried blood on your arms and pine needles in your hair. You later find out that you have been raped.
Imagine later finding out that essentially because your rapist said “Sorry”, he can live his life freely with only minimal probation. Turner’s father called the victim’s rape “20 minutes of action”. “20 minutes of action” that changed the victim’s life forever.
Do you think that if she were able, she would have reported the rape? If she would have awakened in a dorm instead of a hospital, do you think the public would ever know this story?
Contrary to what some believe, rape is not a mistake. It is a deliberate act to receive pleasure at the expense of the victim’s pain. “20 minutes of action” is all it took to alter the lives of two individuals for the worse.
Brock Turner’s father, like many others, reduced the victim’s worth to “20 minutes of action”. In his eyes, his son is still a good boy who just made a mistake.
How strong must a woman be to carry the burden of rape throughout her life without release? How strong does a woman have to be to hide the fear that she lives in everyday?
#NotOkay is for stories like that of Brock Turner’s victim. It has become a movement and an avenue for women to speak out on their sexual abuse. The hash tag boasts a plethora of stories thru the eyes of women, teenagers, pre-teens and even children who know nothing of sex yet are sexualized. Who is supposed to protect them? Where are the people who are supposed to believe their stories instead of blame them?
Rape is defined as “forced, unwanted sexual intercourse” however many times the victim is blamed or shamed into silence. Sexual assault is not something to be taken lightly. Often times, the woman is left to pick up the pieces on her own with little justice being served.
Society is so laser focused on teaching girls how not to get raped that they forget to teach boys not to rape. From the moment a girl’s body begins to “develop” she is constantly told things like:
- “Pull your skirt down.”
- “Never reveal to much cleavage.”
- “Your clothes shouldn’t be too fitted”
All of these things and “precautions” are done in order to make sure that the female isn’t drawing too much attention to her body. Instead of celebrating their God given bodies they are taught to loathe and cover them up at a young age.
Amber Rose’s Slut Walk Festival
Pop Culture Icon, Amber Rose, has used her foundation and “Slut Walk” festival to show woman that rape and sexual abuse are not okay. Amber Rose, known for her marriage with Wiz Khalifa and relationship with Kanye West, is no stranger to the verbal abuse regarding her sexual life. She has received an outpouring of backlash for the way she dresses, her past mistakes, and her life choices. This makes Amber’s role with the Slut Walk more significant than ever.
Originally starting in 2003 in Toronto, Canada, the Slut Walk has become a movement around the world. Amber Rose’s Slut Walk Festival is a one-day festival with zero tolerance for shaming anyone else. All genders, races and sexual orientations are welcome.
The festival encompassed a variety of activities, performances and health screenings. These screenings include breast cancer screenings and HIV testing. The mission of the walk is to raise awareness to sexual injustices and gender equality. It also aims to end the notion of victim blaming and sexual violence.
In a society where women are over sexualized and under respected, events and organizations of this caliber are needed now more than ever. It’s important to realize that although some rape victims don’t let the incident define them, it is forever engrained in that person’s life.
Who are we to create a moral baseline for one another? Is it right to believe that the values I posses are the same as the woman who may sit across from me in class, in church or on a bus?
I am now 25 years old and I remember that night at the skating rink as if it was yesterday. There is never a moment in which I remember being more terrified. There is never a moment that I felt more vulnerable. However, I was fortunate.
I wasn’t raped and I was able to run away into the safety net of my family but I never told anyone. From that moment on, I became more cautious and more aware. I lost a little bit of innocence on that day. These men, some being twice my age, were more concerned with their own selfish desires than my well being.
Sadly, that is a mindset that hasn’t changed. Although it won’t be easy, we have to work to change it. Someone’s next victim could be your sister, cousin, aunt or friend. Would it still be JUST “20 minutes of action”? Sexual abuse is #NotOkay. Sexual assault is #NotOkay.