TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses sexual assault.
I barely drink these days. With no sleep and breastfeeding around the clock it’s just not an option for me. I know few parents who drink heavily because really, who wants to look after kids when they’re hung-over?
But a while back, I got drunk. For the first time in well over a year. I was going to the Elton John concert with a friend and my toddler was at his nanna’s and dad was on FULL BABY DUTY as in – I was going to sleep all night and he was going to do wake-ups.
I was so excited, that I probably got a bit too excited, and that’s how I ended up drunk, singing Tiny Dancer at the top of my lungs.
I had been given taxi money by a dear family friend, and I’m ashamed to say it since she’s probably reading this, I spent most of it on those darling little bottles of terrible wine at the stadium. I drank quite a few of those things. And my tolerance had disintegrated from not drinking for a very long time.
I was excited by freedom! A night out! I had no idea when my next night off would be – it might not be for a year! I was irresponsible. I got smashed. I had the best time ever.
And according to a recent column published in the Herald, a column I’m not going to link to because it’s already caused so many tears and hurt…Well, according to that column I should have been raped that night. I was attracting trash by acting trash. I was drunk. I was dressed (possibly? The columnist didn’t hand out her booklet on what clothing is rape-inviting and what isn’t) provocatively by wearing tight jeans.
I was an unlocked car according to the many people who commented on that story.
Had I been raped that night after screeching Goodbye Yellow Brick Road down the phone to my sister it would have been because of my poor decisions. Because I didn’t act responsibly.
If my husband had to call his mum and get her to watch the children while he picked me up from the hospital after my rape, it would have been my fault.
If the next day, my toddler asked me why I was crying, saw bruises on me, if he tried to understand why mama is broken, it would have been my fault.
If one day as an adult my sons asked me about my rape, according to this columnist I would need to tell them that women must take responsibility.
I would need to tell my sons that “women and men are two entirely different creatures, with different responses and triggers”.
And if they asked why I went out and got drunk and got myself raped, I wouldn’t tell them about how the giddy excitement of a night off got to me and I drank too much but that doesn’t matter, because nobody deserves rape, no I’d have to tell them that the ultimate responsibility for my rape lies with me.
It’s important that they know that “yes, it’s a woman’s right to dress how she wants – but it is also a responsibility to dress in a manner that shows how she wants to be treated”.
I will tell the boys that they can decide how they treat a woman based on how she is dressed. If she is dressed a certain way, she is sending them a message.
Just like mummy did that night that she went to the concert and drank too much wine with money she should have used for a taxi.
According to this columnist I need to tell them that I should have kept myself safe but I didn’t. I didn’t behave “in a manner that signals that [I am] precious, special and deserve a man that is appreciative of [me] and [my] unique character”.
I’m not their mummy. I am an unlocked car.
To be entirely clear – it’s never your fault. Ever.
Our mothers, our sisters, our grandmothers, our aunts – they are not unlocked cars. Our daughters are not unlocked cars.
Our fathers, husbands, and sons are not creatures who need to see what someone is wearing to work out if they’re going to rape them or not.
This is what we teach our children. That it is never their fault. That what they wear is not an invitation to hurt them. That they are never allowed to hurt someone based on what they wear.
That article said the ultimate responsibility lies with women to “keep safe” from rapists. This is abhorrent and anyone who isn’t a rape apologist would know it’s the rapist who holds responsibility NOT TO RAPE.
But – as parents (and the person who wrote that piece is one) we have responsibilities – and that’s to ensure we don’t raise our boys to think they’re animals and that they need to take their cues not to assault and rape women based on a woman’s clothing and behaviour. And that we don’t raise our girls to think that if they are raped they deserve it for not following an ever-changing set of rules that don’t at all protect against rapists anyway.
Most of all, we need to not perpetuate the dangerous objectification of women that we are nothing but unlocked cars. Nothing but trash.
That night my dear family friends – husband and wife – took me home. Not once did the man who spoke at my wedding think about raping me. Because he saw me as a human being, not an unlocked car. Not once did his wonderful wife think “well, she’s walking around asking to be raped tonight”. Because she saw me as a human being, not trash.
We are not trash. You are not trash.
I am a mum, a wife, a sister, a friend, a daughter, a writer, a volunteer, an activist, a human being.
I am many things.
But I am not an unlocked car.