Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Opinion: Men unite to Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

            Pepper-spray, rape whistles, personal alarms, stun-guns, anti-rape condoms, and most recently a nail polish that detects date rape drugs help deter sexual assaults. Women, often, see every unknown male as a potential threat. 
            A full-time student, who also works full-time as a waitress, shared a horrifying story during class. Normally she does not have the time to do her hair or makeup. One day, she found the time, and went to work made up. She felt confident, made a few more tips, and had a good night. After closing, she walked to her car and saw a note on the windshield.
            The note said: “I just wanted to let you know, I got my eye on you and your p----." She no longer felt safe; confidence and happiness were replaced with fear and violation. Another woman in the class, obviously upset, said “Just because you wore makeup.” This woman wasn’t blaming the victim and was simply frustrated because the one day she dressed up she was violated. The way it was said struck me at my core.
            This had nothing to do with her wearing makeup. It had everything to do with the person who left the note. That person either had no idea what is acceptable behavior, or actually believed that it was a flattering comment, or even worse, knew that it was wrong but did it anyway. It was easy to hate this person, but then our culture helps create this person's attitude and it is part of a larger problem.
            According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, there is an average of 237,868 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. That is one every two minutes. Sixty percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police and 97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail. Approximately two-thirds of the assaults are committed by someone known to the victim; 38 percent of rapists are a friend or an acquaintance.
            According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (2008-2012), sexual assault has fallen by more than 50 percent in recent years. Does that mean we went from one rape every minute to every two minutes?
            Why do women fear men? The answer is sadly, because we, as men, have allowed our society to become perverse and corrupted. Some might argue that rape has always existed, but should we sit idly by and just shrug?
            Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
              Awareness has spread in recent years. Frank Baird created Walk a Mile in Her Shoes in 2001. According to the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes website, "What started out as a small group of men daring to totter around a park has grown to become a world-wide movement with tens of thousands of men raising millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexual violence education, prevention and remediation programs."
            Men, the next time another guy says something lewd or vulgar, call them on it, regardless of whom it is. Would you allow them to say that about your mother or sister? I'm not advocating confrontation or violence, but silence is the same as outright toleration. If you want to make the world safer for your mothers, sisters and daughters, you have to be willing to speak out.

            For information or help, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or the Midland Rape Crisis and Children's Advocacy Center at 432-682-RAPE (7273). For more information go to www.RAINN.org or www.mrccac.org.

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