Let’s get one thing straight: I love ridiculing an idiot just as much as the next person…and sometimes a little more. But when it comes to certain topics, there are reasons that we have so many idiots. And two of the biggest are silence and apathy.
Knowledge is a gift we give to one another- writers, teachers, researchers, activists, journalists, friends, and, in what seems to be rare cases, politicians. When you have a topic where so little is said or shared at all, how can you really expect to hear intelligent points of view?
Our society treats politics like it’s this big scary entity, far removed from our daily lives- where two big all-knowing forces “DEMOCRAT” and “REPUBLICAN” duke it out — and although many people seem to feel strongly about which one they support, they behave as if they are totally outside of the whole deal.
Socially, politics is regarded as a forbidden topic. Thanks for coming to my dinner party/birthday/wedding/girlsnight/boysnight/pokernight! So, what should we talk about? Oh wait, just make sure it’s not politics.
Don’t get me wrong — I understand why. I do.
I think I understand why even more after the leading news story yesterday (about Todd Akin, Senate Hopeful from Hell. But don’t worry, not “Legitimate” Hell). When I read about his statement, I could literally feel my blood boiling. No, fellow smartie-pants, I do mean literally, not figuratively. My skin felt hot to the touch, and I carefully eyed every item in the room before deciding against breaking something. (Because I’m too poor to destroy my belongings, no matter how angry I feel.)
I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again, the sentiment expressed by senate hopeful, Todd Akin, is disgraceful and ignorant.
However, unfortunately, his misinformation is one of the best things that has happened (in terms of social change in the area of sexual violence) in months. Hold your outrage, I will explain.
What comes to mind when you think of gay teens, prop 8, bullying, etc. You can think of something, right? You’ve likely heard of Trevor Project, No H8 or some organization. You may have even donated your time or money. New topic—how about global warming—regardless of your opinion, you’ve heard something, read something, and if you wanted to seek info, it’s just a google search away.
Ok… so what do you know about sexual violence in the US in 2012? When was the last time you engaged in a conversation? Do you know the statistics? Do you feel like it’s separate from your or do you realize that with 250,000 reported cases in the US that it’s pretty likely that includes your sister, best friend, daughter or someone you know, and that they probably haven’t told you. Some of you may be activists, or just very involved citizen, so big fat kudos to you. I feel like you will best understand where I’m coming from.
I run a non-profit campaign called “That’s What She Didn’t Say.” I’ve given this movement my time and energy for two years now- and although I have a minor online following and a facebook page- overflowing with all of 700 fans, the lack of support and the turtle-slow growth is disappointing, to say the least.
Rape and Sexual Violence in general makes people uncomfortable. As per usual, the general public is half-correct. You know what- this topic should make people uncomfortable, but it makes people uncomfortable for the wrong reason. We should feel sad, we should feel obligated to do something, but instead we feel awkward, and we encourage/force the million upon millions of survivors to keep quiet.
So big thank you to idiotic senate hopeful, Todd Akin- who, at least before yesterday, was poised to win. Akin will be the subject of ridicule for years to come as people throw around his term “Legitimate Rape.” He was also responsible for the controversy last year over whether rape counts if it’s not “Forcible.” These two instances made me angry, but as someone who follows the news on the topic of sexual violence, I can tell you the days around both situations was the time when the most people started to say intelligent things, started to get involved, and stopped trying to shut up survivors.
Runner up thank you to “comedian” Daniel Tosh- because his jerky rape jokes this summer did more than upset one woman in the audience- it created a nationwide stir. This, my friends, is how change is made.
So few are willing to come forward and talk about rape from a take-action and speak-out point of view— so it’s a good thing so many people in the public eye are there to make ridiculous statements.
For the record, as much as I hate to admit it, as much as I hate that it’s true, my passion for helping people and communicating important ideas comes out of the years of abuse I went through as a teen, and more than anything (physically) that I went through, the passion I have for changing the world comes (almost solely) from the lack of support I faced when I sought help. But seeing as how I wasn’t “Legitimately Raped” some might say I should just chill.
But you know what? It’s not just the politicians (who it’s so easy to pick on.) It’s the people around us. It’s the friends, teachers, relatives, and dozens of people who I know would love for me to just shut up about it. It’s the five people who will delete me on facebook after they read this.
So as much as I encourage you all to continue to ridicule Akin and his words of “wisdom” I hope we can get real about this.
If you want to see Rape go away, or at least affect less people, stop pretending it doesn’t exist. Stop only caring about it when a politician says something ignorant, and realize it happens all the time — and that is doesn’t need to. Go support an organizatin—you can support my non-profit at thatswhatshedidntsay.com, and if more than $500 of donations would come in, it can go from being a campaign to an actual non-profit.
Not to side with Akin, but I’m assuming he isn’t actually trying to be a heartless asshole, but that he “legitimately” (that never gets old) doesn’t know any better. So speak up, because we’re all responsible for teaching the ignorant.