It’s Tuesday, and I’d normally be elbow-deep in writing my current work in progress, but I got stalled by a video I found on Facebook that spoke to my project so eloquently that I had to share it with all y’all.
As many of you have learned, my current work in progress surrounds the issue of sexual assault on college campuses and will explore, to some extent, what happens when a victim tells her story; as well as one of many reason victims don’t come forward at all…victim blaming.
Statistics tell us that most victims of sexual assault know their attacker. If that’s true — especially in a college setting — then it’s reasonable to believe that both the victim and her attacker have mutual friends. What happens when a victim speaks, then? In many cases, those caught in between don’t know what to believe and end up taking sides. This can be especially hard, I believe, for young men; and so I think many times they stand against the victim because the idea that someone they’ve known and trusted could behave so heinously is unthinkable. You see, we try to surround ourselves with people of like values; so what does that say about me if someone I’ve considered to be a close friend could do something like that? So if I can’t imagine it, then it must be a lie, right? Wrong.
Studies show that the incidents of falsely reported rapes are roughly equivalent to the false reporting of other crimes nationwide. That is to say that it’s very rare. I believe the exact percentage is something like 6% of all reported crimes are false reports. So if we apply those numbers, that means 94% of the time a victim cries rape, a rape has actually occurred. With that in mind, it’s time to man-up (or woman-up, as the case may be) and start believing the victims.
WE ARE THE LIONS
Artist: Steve Connell
Directed by David Fischette
From Go West Creative
I don’t have a problem with pornography. I mean, I don’t get upset when I see sexually exploitive commercials. In fact, those are usually my favorite ones. I mean, I don’t know what her ass has to do with my hamburger, but I’m going to drive through the very next day.
I don’t have a problem with violent movies, or images or the word bitch. Don’t have a problem with jokes about women — in fact, I freely admit there are times where I sit back with my fellas and kick back, talk about some bitch and how I wish I could hit that. Talk openly in public places, unconcerned if your kids laugh. I mean, it’s just words. Just jokes. Just dudes talking shit that you never expect’s gonna get back.
I do have a problem with violence. And cruelty. And rape. And abuse. And even if we know, it’s just me. It’s just you. It’s just a few harmless jokes between me and my dudes. It still perpetuates a culture where it’s easy to confuse the link between the jokes and the bruise, between her getting choked and what’s jokes between dudes; and if there’s a connection between the things I don’t have a problem with and the things that I do, then perhaps I need to rethink my views on the way we view women, and how many views sexually exploitive images get on YouTube.
My best friends have beautiful children and, if what I have to do to keep their daughters from getting raped or harassed or abused is choose to accept domestic violence as a man’s issue, too, then I’ll do that.
And if their sons grow to be like the men that they see so it’s on me to live like the men I want them to be, then I will do that too.
And when they’re of a certain age, I will tell them the story I heard when I was young about this village being terrorized by lions. See, every so often in this village, the villagers would wake to find beds ransacked, bodies torn and for some odd reason, the bodies were always female.
Panicked, the men of the village started sleeping in shifts to make sure at least one man was always watching.
Despite that the lions came.
Too early to sleep, the mothers crept to the beds of their babies and, there watching over them, they learned why the victims were never men. Because on random nights, for unknown reasons as the fog crept in and the moon caught in the brench, as the boys and men of the village became the very thing the women they loved feared most.
When I was young, I thought that story was about lions. It’s not.
See, when we are children, the monsters are under the bed. When we are adults, the monsters have moved moved. They are inside us, they fight just, they climb in bed beside us — and so to stay safe from danger, we raise our girls to believe they must avoid it, and we raise our boys to believe they must become it.
And so they do.
And then one day they grow up to discover they are the lions. They are the ones you’re watching out for. They are the ones.
We ask her, ‘What did you do?’ when we should ask him, ‘What have you done?'”
But we don’t, as if we can’t blame him; as if it’s her fault for failing to accept that being safe around men? That’s not safe to accept. I mean, she got into he cage with the lion, she deserves what she gets.
And as men, we have to reject that mindset or the violence won’t end. We have to accept most often it starts in the hands and hearts and minds of men.
And we are the lions time and again, and if we aren’t the lions, we’re on their side. Too often standing proudly in defense of the pride, perhaps afraid that if we stand with women against the lion, we will ourself be devoured.
And so, ironically, to prove we aren’t cowards we become cowards. To prove we aren’t weak, we become weak. To prove we are still lions, we become sheep, unwilling to do the one thing that must be done: Speak.
And our silence chokes as heavy as hands. It stings, and every black eye where men stand, violence lives or dies.
And that is why they call this just a women’s issue? It’s a lie. We must be involved.
This is a problem that cannot be solved with our silence if we want to end the violence, we must speak.
We must act.
One in Five women are raped by men, we must own that fact.
640,000 women and girls are trafficked for sex annually. We must own up to that.
Three women are killed each day by men who say they love them.
That fact is ours and ours alone, domestic violence is ours to own. This is what we must understand. This violence ends where it starts, in the hands and in the hearts and in the minds of men.
Because we are the lions time and again.
The video above was first posted to the Facebook page of of Upworthy and MEND Nashville. I’ve tried to transcribe it exactly as spoken by the actor. Any discrepancies between his spoken word and the transcription are mine and completely unintentional. MEND Nashville describes themselves on their Facebook page as follows: “MEND is an innovative, primary prevention initiative dedicated to ending violence against women & girls by engaging and educating men & boys. You can learn more about them by visiting their Facebook page using this link. For information on Upworthy, you can visit their Facebook page by using this link.