No Justification – By Steph Nordstrom

Two weeks ago I wrote an article about human trafficking.

Last Friday I received a voicemail from a ‘gentleman’ who told me that he appreciated the article. Great right? I thought so; I mean who doesn’t like to have someone compliment their work? Then he kept talking…

He proceeded to make a reference to an ad in the paper that features a woman in a bikini. He then proceeded to tell me that women dressed like that cause the ‘lustful’ thoughts that cause the, “Many bad things that happen to women.”

While men are absolutely the victims of rape and sexual assault, women are far more likely to be assailed, so for that purpose I am going to use female pronouns from here…

We have a serious problem in this country in regards to sexual assault and victim blaming.

How many times have you heard, “She was asking for it.” “She was drunk.” “She was wearing a short skirt.” “She shouldn’t have been walking around alone.”

Let’s make this perfectly clear. Crystal clear. Just-Windexed-sun-streaming-in-clear.

There is never, and I mean never, a justification for rape or sexual assault.

I don’t care if you bought her a drink.

I don’t care if you bought her dinner.

I don’t care if she flirted with you.

I don’t care if she was dressed provocatively.

I don’t care of she was dancing sexily.

I don’t care if she was OK with being touched 5 minutes ago, but isn’t now.

I don’t care if she had sex with you yesterday, but isn’t interested today.

I don’t care if she is your significant other/spouse.

I don’t care if she has had sex with 100 people before you.

I don’t care if she is walking down an alley, alone, in the middle of the night, drunk and buck-naked.

There is never a provocation for taking something from someone that isn’t being offered freely.

We live in a world where the sense of entitlement is out of control; however, I will never understand where people got the idea they are somehow entitled to have sex with someone because they dress or act a certain way.

You are never owed sex.

Unless you are given a blatant invitation for sex, don’t have it! Consent is a yes, not an absence of no.

We need to stop teaching how not to get raped, and start teaching not to rape.

If there is any shadow of a doubt that the person you are engaging with is not interested, stop. You are in absolute control of your body and your behavior.

Hormones are not to blame. Provocative clothes are not to blame. If you rape or sexually assault someone, the only person to blame is you.

Victim blaming one of the biggest reasons that so many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported. The idea that the victim is somehow able to provoke a rape or sexual assault is how uneducated judges end up sentencing a rapist to 6 months in jail.

If someone sets your house on fire, no one is yelling at you about how it’s your fault for leaving flammable papers in your home.

If you are mugged, no one is telling you that you were, ‘asking for it’ by walking around with your wallet in your pocket.

We all need to learn to support victims any way that we can and learn to teach young men and women that no means no and yes…because it is important and bears repeating:

 Consent is a yes, not an absence of no.