Sharing the Rape Series - Introduction
"It never occurred to me that the sexual violation of my body would not come with a pounded fist or a knife to my throat or a gun to my head. It never occurred to me that the violation of my body would come from a man with whom I would be very familiar and whom I would love with all of my heart."
“I used to say that if I was ever raped, that my attacker would not live to see a new day. I vowed that I would hunt him down and kill him myself. But, then, I was thinking of rape by a stranger. It never occurred to me that the sexual violation of my body would not come with a pounded fist or a knife to my throat or a gun to my head. It never occurred to me that the violation of my body would come from a man with whom I would be very familiar and whom I would love with all of my heart. The first time my husband raped me, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. Then I showered, wiped my face and went back to bed where he kissed my neck, wrapped his arms around me and we fell asleep like nothing abnormal had just happened. He did not know he had done anything wrong - that he had violated me in the worst possible way. He never took my “no” seriously or cared that I said I was not really feeling in the mood. It was his to take, and I could offer no excuses. The feeling is one I cannot describe.”
“I was five years old the first time my uncle touched me. Then, I did not struggle. He was my uncle. He could not do anything bad to me. A man who visits and makes such a fuss about his little niece and brings her toffee all the time could not possibly mean to harm me in any way. He never had sex with me – just groped my breasts, fondled my privates and made me touch his privates too. As the years went by, I grew older, and I began to struggle whenever his hands reached between my legs. The more violent I became, the more afraid he became. It didn’t happen again after the day I struggled with him. I bit him on the arm, and when he let go, I run as fast as I could towards the streets. That’s when he realized that this could get really vicious. I was 13 years old then. 8 years this uncle raped me. 8 years! And the whole time, I never complained and I never told anyone. So if rape means non-consensual sexual contact, then I guess my uncle did not begin raping me until I was about 12 because that’s when I started to hesitate (and eventually start to fight him off) when his hands reached into my panties. Before then, I was a willing and trusting participant.”
Rape! It’s only four letters! Four letters used to describe the most common violent crime against women (outside of murder). And yet, it is also the most downplayed crime against women to ever exist. Is it or is it not rape? What was she wearing when she was raped? Was she walking alone when she was raped? Was she drunk when she was raped? How many men had she slept with before she was raped? What was she doing out at midnight when she got raped? Maybe she wanted to be raped? How was she swinging her hips when she was raped? Did she run from her attacker? Did she fight? Did she or did she not ask for it? How can she accuse her husband of rape? Why did she let him into her home unless she wanted to be raped? The questions are endless, and somehow, many times, these questions point to the woman and what she did to warrant being raped.
Let me make one thing clear before I go any further: this article is in no way meant to deny the fact that males are also subject to rape. It is an injustice that has been overlooked time and time again – mostly because men are portrayed as sexually aggressive and stronger than women. The general assumption is that if a woman is able to have sex with a man then it must be because he wanted it to happen. After all, some ask, how can a woman rape a man? This generalization often times overlooks the rape of young boys by older women (and men), or the rape of a man by a woman who uses verbal threats and blackmail to get a man to sleep with her against his will. Afrikan Goddess promises to cover this issue some time in the future.
For now, however, this feature will focus on the rape of women by men. Because of the complexity of the issue, the feature has been broken up into three parts. The first part featured this month will discuss the results of a reader survey that was sent out on the subject. It will analyze the results and seek to start a discussion about the responses. What factors played into reader’s opinions? The second part will look at the issue of rape within the context of culture and religion. How our ideas about women, men and sexuality plays a role in what we judge to be rape. The third feature will look at the effects of rape on its victims and why no person with a moral conscience should ever think it is okay for a person to suffer rape, no matter the circumstances under which it occurs.
The two stories at the beginning of this feature are real stories of real women – both are African women in their late to mid thirties. Both were bold enough to tell their stories, even if anonymously. In the second feature (June issue) you will read more heart-wrenching stories.
By featuring this rape series, Afrikan Goddess seeks to bring to light an issue every woman should hope is taken seriously by all. It is a tribute to the women of Congo (labeled as the most dangerous place for women), the women of South Africa (where a woman stands a higher chance of being raped than of learning how to read), women in the United States (where a woman is said to be raped every 2 minutes), and to women everywhere who have ever known what it feels like to be violated in the worst possible way.
The feature can also be read at www.afrikangoddess.com.