We Have Rights. We Are Women. We Matter. 

**Trigger warning: sexual assault

We+Have+Rights.+We+Are+Women.+We+Matter.%C2%A0

Mishelle Arellano, Writer

 

**Trigger warning: sexual assault

 

It is no surprise that women’s rights have never been recognized. To begin with, the US constitution doesn’t even mention the word “woman”, even after Congress ratified the 19th Amendment back in 1920 that granted women the right to vote. It was just one right though, and for women to have earned this right they had to go through hell and back for it. You’d expect that things would get better for women, well, that’s not true. It’s the 21st century and women continue to fight for their lives.

 

Rape. A 4 letter word, a word that causes so many emotions and means a lot to many. A word that often is hard to describe due to the pain it brings but enough to understand that when said, a sexual activity that is unlawful or non consensual has occurred. 

 

This act occurs at least every 5 minutes in the United States and women are always the victims. The reason as to why “most of the time” or “ almost” weren’t used to replace “always” is because then it wouldn’t be right. You see one in five women, along with one in 71 men, have been raped. It’s an act that happens much more to women than it ever will with men. Sarah Everard of 33 and Eurydice Dixon of 21 were just two of many women who are victims of rape. Sarah was raped and kidnapped by someone who we are told to trust. A male police officer was her attacker. Eurydice, who was a comedian at the time and truly loved by many, as they expressed with the news of her death, was killed by Jaymes Todd. 19 year old Todd admitted that he followed her because “her appearance was a sexual appeal to him”. The lives of these two women mattered. 

 

Why was their appearance such a big factor on whether they were supposed to live or not ? Because that’s how it is nowadays. Men not only classify women as “too emotional” or “ too weak,” but they also try and point out that the way a women dresses is what provokes men to rape them. To make matters worse, they make these statements as if it’s something completely normal to say. And now it’s not only men saying this but also most of the society we live in. 

 

Comments are made like “well maybe if she didn’t wear that,” “she was provoking men by showing too much skin,” or just agreeing with the thought that a woman’s body is just some “object” for men. Welcome to Rape culture, culture in which sexual violence is treated as the norm and victims are blamed for their own assaults. Stupid isn’t it? Calling these women guilty and blaming them for what happened to them and not their assaulters. People completely ignore the fact that this also happens to young little girls. There is no age limit for rape and that is just one sad part of the problem.

 

Why is our system so easy on rapists and these crimes people decide to commit? Why are they much harder on the victims than they are with the actual person who committed the crime? Why can a homeless man be sentenced to three to six years for attempting to buy toothpaste and food with a counterfeit $20 bill but a rapist gets no jail time ? 

 

You see, the problem isn’t just within our society but also with how the system responds to us. It is the problem too. You can’t expect people to reach out when they see there’s no change done. Usually when these victims decide to speak up, they are questioned and have to go through a long process in which they have to take various physical exams. This is like another attack for them, having them remember what they experience to try and prove their point. Interrogate them various times and for what ? Why do all this if only 0.5 percent of investigations end in a felony conviction. ? And many might say “ well, what if someone is lying ?” Truth is, only 2% of reported rapes are false, the rest of the 98% are always true. It’s time for our system to change, time to receive the justice we all deserve. 

 

Race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or just the color of your skin in general should never be a problem. But sadly, that’s not how it works today. Racism is like a chronic disease, like cancer or diabetes, that has always existed and will continue to for a long time. You might ask why this was brought up and whether it’s important or not. Of course this is important and here’s why.

 

Many of the rape stories we hear on tv are from white women. They make coverage all over social media platforms, receive great treatment, and usually end in fair play for these victims. Could it be because of their white privilege and white supremacy? Most likely. I am not here to bash anyone because I am fighting for ALL women. I want all women to feel like they matter regardless of who they are. But, I am here because we have to learn and face the reality we live in and that is, that white privilege exists. You see white women possess and enjoy power, choices, and opportunities that women of color do not. They are accepted everywhere they go and their color of skin is never something that they need to worry about. 

 

Some could even make false claims and would never be doubted. By this I am referring to Amy Cooper. An incident that took place in New York’s Central Park. Cooper had called the police and stated that she was being threatened by “an African American man” who had confronted her for walking her dog without a leash. Accusations that turned out to be false thanks to the recording of Christian Cooper who was the one being accused. How come her charges were dismissed after her therapists stated that she learned “a lot in their sessions together.” ? Why was it so easy for her to just apologize and be accepted again ? My point here is that if this was a woman of color, or anyone of color in general, this would have ended differently. 

 

Now, when have we seen a person of color in the news share their story or have their story shared? Did they receive as much attention? Did it end the same? Of course not. People of color tend to silence themselves much more because of how their family might respond, and are more likely to be blamed for bringing shame on their family. Not only that, but the penalties their assailants suffer are less severe than those of people who sexually assault white women

 

Why can’t the compassion for women of color be the same as it is for white women? Why are women of color more sexually harassed and racialized? We have to work on lowering these percentages: 26.9 percent of Latino Women or the 35.5 percent of non-Hispanic Black Women that have experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime. These women, as well as any other women, should never have to tolerate such cruel treatment or bad behaviors from others, not even before or after their sexual abuse. Not one of them should get left behind or forgotten about because this is a fight where we all have to stand together in order to make the change we all want.

 

As a woman myself, a woman of color, I am frightened each time I go out alone. Not only do I fear for myself but I fear for the women that surround me and their safety. I fear because there are men out there that think they need to rape or sexually harass someone in order to feel more power, to feel good about themselves because to many of them, women are just “weak” and are “objects”. It’s so sad, dangerous, and very ignorant of people that have a mindset in which they think this behavior is okay. I hear about their stories all over the news and social media but what I hardly ever get to see is the justice that they truly deserve. I’m so happy and proud of this movement, in which women have decided to join in and share their experience. But, we must understand that, that’s not all of them. There are still plenty of women out there that need our help.

 

There’s a lot of resources for people to use. Resources like RAINN that offer chat online as well as its National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.4673. RAINN keeps all your information confidential and is never stored. Their providers make sure to help the caller with whatever they need and only proceed to call the police or file any reports when the caller consents. They not only will help you through the chat or call, but will also provide you with more information on other resources just as great as they are that will help you with your next steps toward healing and recovery. This next system is a foundation made by women to help end the gender inequalities happening all over the world. 

 

TIME’S UP focuses on the people that have been sexually harassed at work or have been abused while being in that environment. They have a hotline, 202-319-3053, where you share your personal experience and they help connect you with an attorney to help you take on your case based on the injustices you’ve encountered. They are a foundation that not only are there to help us but also help prevent sexual harassment from happening in these workplaces. These resources are great. 

 

They are not only another step for any of us who need it but also are also a great way to get informed on how we can help. We must make positive changes in our society and they must be done ASAP. Let us be the change. This is where we live, let’s begin to work on making it a safe and harmless place for us and for anyone else, to be able to make it our true home.