Thursday, March 19, 2015

We should all be Terrified

Earlier this week, a Facebook friend posted a "joke".  It was an image of Vikings with a caption that read "Vikings Order of Business" and went on to list: 
1.  Kill all that can not be pillaged or raped. 
2.  Pillage all that can not be raped. 
3.  Once all the killing is done and you secured your pillage, find a comely whench [sic] and commence raping
4. Set shit on fire and sail the fuck off.  

The next morning, I woke up to news that Ashley Judd is pressing charges against Twitter trolls.  Which only made me roll my eyes until I read the story and instantly regretted it.  Ashley Judd is amazing, I've always been a huge fan because this woman is more than the actress you see in the movies.  She's a college graduate, an advocate, an activist and she is amazing.  I shouldn't have assumed she was going the way of Gwyneth Paltrow without reading the story because I know better.  
If you haven't heard what happened, devout and hardcore sports fan Ashley Judd did some shit talking via Twitter over the college game between Kentucky and Arkansas She didn't like a call that was made and she said someone could kiss her team's ass.  You know, the same kind of shit talking people do and have done over every game and sport since quite possibly the beginning of time.  The response?  She was called a cunt, a whore and threatened with sexual violence. 

I don't know about you, but I've never seen a man threaten to sexually assault another man for the same kind of shit talking.  I know there are places in the world where team loyalty runs so hot that fans pound the crap out of each other in the streets, but I've never seen or heard of a man threatening another man with sodomy over trash talk.  I'm not saying it doesn't happen; what I am saying is that I have regularly seen women subjected to the exact same verbal abuse and threats of physical and sexual violence for something as trivial as rooting for the other team.

No one should experience sexual violence or the threat of sexual violence.  Not a single person, for any reason.  The fact that this happens and we live in a world where men go on killing sprees because women won't go out with them, where rape jokes are funny to even a single person, and where a person can experience threats and harassment for trash talking should leave us all terrified. We should not feel safe because the men making these threats, and the people (women included) supporting their abuse, are the people who make up our families.  These people who think sexual violence and threats of sexual violence are funny or acceptable are someone's parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend.  These are the people who make up our communities.  These are the people who babysit our children, teach in our schools, vote for our politicians, and even police our streets. 

People express outrage when a sex offender is released into the neighborhood.  Where is the outrage right now?  My own "friend" shared a rape joke; he doesn't know that I've been a victim of sexual assault but should that make any difference? I don't think so.   The man telling Ashley Judd to suck a dick is someone's child, would you want your son to speak that way or your daughter to be on the receiving end of that comment?  The men threatening to rape Ashley Judd are someone's neighbor, do you feel comfortable with the idea of living next to someone who threatened to violate a woman like that?  The women who think she should just take it or needs to "get out of the kitchen if she can't handle the heat" might be your child's daycare provider, the school nurse, or a police officer: we encourage our children to tell an adult they can trust when something happens to them, what happens when the person they tell is someone who supports this kind of victimization?  Can we trust our mandated reporters to report sexual violence against us or our children when they support victimization like this on the Internet?

You can't tell me it isn't the same thing, because it is.  You can't encourage or support a perpetrator of violence online and be an advocate in real life. And the fact that we live in a country where that kind of threat is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged is something that really and truly should leave us all wondering just how safe we really are. 

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