The Ivy Quad is a sacred space. TBTN is well attended by flawless SAT's and international superstar students. We start in the lecture hall and are notified that we have violated the fire code with our crowd. So we spill out to the grassy space. The stories pour forth. She looks like she is 6'2" and says her boyfriend says he'll break up with her if she won't sleep with him. Then, another woman says it was her coach in middle school.
A guy wearing plaid pants speaks up. I imagine him to look like a state senator from Maine. It is the brown curly hair and the glasses. He says you don't put "rape victim" on your resume. It's not good for interviews. You are perceived as weak -- in mind and body -- if you say that you've been raped. I assume he is providing an observation of societal expectation. He is not. He is telling us why he never told anyone. Male victims vs. female victims. Gender and intelligence do not make one impervious to rape.
In Pittsburgh, I'm at a high school. It's private. Parents travel, have four homes and personal pilots. He says this guy texts him. He's got a whole thing of vodka. A party across town. Does he want a ride? Standing in the high school theatre, now, he says, "We never made it to the party. I shouldn't have known not to have gotten in the car." Self-blame by most every victim.
In New Jersey, it is spring break, senior year. They go 'down the shore' with friends. He remembers going to the bar and leaving the bar with a girl he just met. He winds up in a random hotel room with no shirt and shorts around his knees. He says maybe they slipped roofies in his drink at the bar. He's glad he doesn't remember more, but the STD he has from it is a constant reminder. It doesn't matter how much you can bench-press if someone can drop something in your drink.
When I am at MIT, he waits until everyone is gone except the guy in the sound booth. All 1200 incoming students have left Kresge Auditorium. He is epitome of ectomorph. He says he is from a small town in Texas, and I've probably never heard of it. "It happened on the floor in the family room in front of the television." It was his uncle. He says he's never told anyone until today. Secrets kept by many, most.
So, are we even now? Men and women. More women are raped than men. But fewer men who are raped report. But, too many people are raped, and not enough report. Who has the competitive edge? The disadvantage? When rape was a property crime and women who were raped were "damaged goods" was that worse for women because we weren't even part of the equation? Or, would you argue that when it is presumed that all men want (hetero)sex all the time, that is worse?
All bad. Winning is losing.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Take Back the Night in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To learn more about Take Back the Night and how you can help prevent sexual violence, visit here. Read all posts in the series here.
Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.
Follow Katie Koestner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TBTNFoundation