Rape. I had to pause after writing the word because writing it just feels so dirty, especially on a Christian campus where, unless you’re friends with a Family & Human major, the topic of sex rarely comes up.
Rape, an act which takes away the very dignity of its victim, is so repulsive that we just don’t want to think about it. We don’t want to talk about it . . . unless it’s in the rap song that we’re singing along to in the car with all of our friends. Sometimes, the reference to rape is explicit, like in Three 6 Mafia’s “Let’s Plan a Robbery”: “I had to rape his b**** cause the hoe was stacked I f***** her from the back, with my gun to her back I left up out his crib, with dolla and purple hat.”
Okay, hopefully you don’t listen to songs like that. But, that song has over 200,000 views on YouTube and several hundred thousand downloads on iTunes. However, there are songs that you DO listen to that mention rape more suddenly. In the song of the summer, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, he says, “I know you want it / You’re a good girl . . . I can’t let you get past me / I hate these blurred lines / I know you want it”. Woah, woah, woah, stop!
I currently intern at the Rape Crisis Center in Fayetteville. One of the most common excuses we hear from guys who have by legal definition raped a girl is, “Well, she wanted it.” That is not an excuse! When a girl, guy or anyone says no, they mean no. Even if you had already unzipped your pants. Zip them back up.
No means no, and if you force them to go further, even if you think they want it, you are raping them. Sadly, even songs from the movie “Grease” don’t get this. In one of the most popular songs from the musical, “Summer Nights,” the guys sing to Danny, “Tell me more / Tell me more / Did she put up a fight?” Again, woah! If a girl is putting up a fight, that’s not romantic. That’s rape.
We need to be more considerate of what these songs are saying. What if a person in your car had been raped and is listening to you sing along to these songs? How might it feel to listen to friends unknowingly support the injustice that has been done to him or her? You don’t know which of your friends are rape survivors, so you need to strive to be the friend that others can confide in and be supported by.
Alright. So there’s rape mentioned in songs. What’s the big deal? Those are just songs and the women in them aren’t real.
Yet people are raped every day, and people who attend Christian colleges are not exempt from this injustice. According to the Arkansas Coalition Against Rape, one in three women and one in six men will be raped during their lifetimes. These are only the reported cases (it’s estimated that only 26 percent of rapes are reported). If you plug these numbers into JBU’s student profile, 1,300 traditional undergraduate students with 43 percent males and 57 percent women, that would mean 93 male students and 245 female students have been raped, or will be during their lifetimes. You know at least one of them.
Survivors of rape that I have spoken with at the Rape Crisis Center, or even survivors that I’ve spoken with here on campus, said that they felt they could not tell their Christian friends or family members about what happened to them. They felt they would be judged, criticized or blamed. After all, they were drinking, flirting and wearing short skirts. Even though they screamed “no,” didn’t those actions justify their rapists for acting the way they did? Absolutely not! Rape is NEVER the victims fault. Rape has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with power.
If you have been raped, know that you are not alone, and that there are people right here on this very campus that are ready to help you heal when you are ready. JBU offers free counseling, both with licensed counselors and with graduate students. These professionals are ready to listen to you, to believe you and help guide you along the road to healing. The Northwest Arkansas Rape Crisis Center in Fayetteville offers a variety of survivor support options, including individual and group counseling and survivor resources.
If you know someone that has been raped, the most important thing you can do is believe them. Only 1.6 percent of rapes are falsely reported, and many of these are considered false reports because the survivor chooses not to press charges.
We, as a Christian community, need to stand up against sexual violence. That starts by believing the survivors we love, and publicly saying that rape is not okay.