Quagmire…the other Q

Per Miriam Webster, a quagmire is “a situation that is hard to deal with”.

I have a quagmire.

I have been utterly hijacked since the sentencing of Brock Turner, and the release of Emily Doe’s victim impact statement to the public.

I stand in solidarity with Emily Doe.

Her words are powerful, painful, real, and necessary.  Her experience, her haunting words are, for many, the first they have ever heard of the debilitating impact of sexual assault.

I have been ranting on social media and to anyone who will sit still long enough to listen.  This morning, I engaged in a social media discussion with a friend of a friend who, while agreeing that none of this was Ms. Doe’s fault and that Mr. Turner should be held accountable for raping her, he also named alcohol as the culprit.  He finally rested on “if she had made better choices, this would not have happened to her”.  In his next comment, he agreed that victim-blaming is wrong.  This friend of my friend is a good guy.  I do not doubt that.  He simply does not see that he is doing is exactly what he claims is wrong to do.  He is blaming the victim.

On its face, his statement is not incorrect.  If she had not consumed too much alcohol that night, she would not have fallen unconscious and therefore would not have been raped while she was unconscious.  From Ms. Doe’s statement, she clearly accepts responsibility for consuming too much alcohol that night.  Where I struggle is with the idea that while not blaming her, he was absolutely blaming her; that it was her choice to consume too much alcohol that caused her unconscious body to be raped.

It is the very nature of rape culture that good people say, do and believe exactly what they claim to be against.  “I don’t blame the victim, but gosh, if only her skirt had been longer”.  It is not her fault, but wow, if only she hadn’t been walking home alone”.  “Well, she was flirting with him all night…what did she expect?”

Emily Doe has given us a tremendous opportunity.  She has given us the opportunity to understand what rape victims go through.  She is shining a bright light on rape culture.  She has taken a conversation that has been happening behind closed doors at rape crisis centers and advocacy centers everywhere for decades and brought it to 2016.

She is challenging us to up our game.  She is challenging us to broaden the conversation.  She is challenging us to truly examine the belief systems that have become so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize how dangerous they are.

Thank you for your strength Ms. Doe.  Thank you for exhibiting grace and compassion in the face of our shortcomings as a society.  Thank you for shining that light.

I stand in solidarity with Emily Doe.

Challenge accepted.