He Can, She Can: Assault Has No Gender

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According to Rainn, a website that specializes in sexual assault prevention and help for victims, “on average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.”

One in 10 of those victims are men for which there were no up to date statistics on how often they are assaulted by women. Was it unintentional? Are the numbers so low for these occurrences that it wasn’t worth mentioning? Or, is this part of America’s skewed idea on what a rapist looks like?

Over the course of 2017, dozens of victims have come forward, which has produced doubts in those who don’t truly understand what rape means. So, let’s take a second to define it. According to the United States Department of Justice, sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Sexual harassment is any and all unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

America, a lot of it anyway, has an idea of what the people who commit these crimes look like; the creepy old man, the jock who “gets what he wants,” the big man in Hollywood who could get the victim “the movie role” for a little something in return and dozens of others. But what about the woman who wanted to know what the victim is willing to do to keep their job? Or the woman who assaulted the victim because she knew they’d never tell?

The point is, anyone can be a victim, anyone can be a predator. It doesn’t matter the context, or the relationship between the two. Husband and wife, teacher and student, friend and friend. If anything sexual happened without the other person’s consent, it’s rape. The first accusations against a woman in Hollywood came out on December 4th, 2017 when Timothy Heller posted a story on Twitter detailing the night she was allegedly raped by her former best friend and singer, Melanie Martinez in the statement below:

“When I wrote this story about my assault, I initially wasn’t going to name the abuser. But I think it’s important for you all to know this is about Melanie Martinez.”

Unlike when men like Harvey Weinstein were accused, opinions were split. Many, as expected, rallied to Heller’s side and even went as far as destroying Martinez’s album and merchandise on video and posting it across Twitter and Instagram. Hardcore fans searched through pictures and put together timelines to prove Martinez’s innocence. To which she responded to by saying the following statement on Twitter:

“…I want to thank my fans who took the time to research the timeline, analyze past Instagram photos, and question the story being told, which reveal her false statements. Please know that my intentions with everything that I do in my life are always pure and I would never be intimate with someone without their absolute consent.”

While other fans refused to take a side without more information. The problem here is that there is definite bias in this situation because Heller accused a woman. If Martinez had been a man, there wouldn’t have been so many questions about Heller’s statement, there wouldn’t have been so many people quick to point out the flaws in the timeline.

In today’s world there are so many opportunities for one person to take advantage of the other. The most important thing to remember is to be alert. Safety starts with paying attention. Assault can come from anyone and happen to anyone.

By Brianna Thomas, Senior, Brooks College Prep

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