By Karlesha V. Hewitt
“ An isolated, cocooned caterpillar
metamorphoses to a butterfly
it soon realizes quickly it is trapped
in a jar with no hole poked in the lid
for air, unable to flutter, it is still.
The captor pleads innocence
he did not hunt the insect, he only
placed the cocoon inside a jar, and
shut the lid .”
SHE was drunk, but she consented. She said no, but she didn’t mean it. She pushed me away, but she was smiling. She wasn’t sure, but I convinced her. She wasn’t in the mood, but she is my girlfriend.
Unfortunately, some people have no clue that the above mentioned statements can constitute rape in a given situation. The month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness month (SAAM), still there is so much people do not know about sexual assault. In today’s world, it seems we have a distorted image of what it is to rape, or to be raped. Television often shows us what to look for: A women targeted on the street by a stranger, and dragged down a back alley somewhere to be sexually assaulted, a victim screaming “no”, or “help” while fighting someone off, a perpetrator using a weapon to hold someone down.
The ambiguous nature in which we understand rape is what leads to 60% of sexual assaults going unreported as stated in the statistics section of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) website. It is this same misinterpretation that permits 15 of 16 rapists to walk free, without spending a day in jail for their crime, these stats are also a product of the RAINN website.
It is time for us to inform our selves. The majority of reported rape victims are female so let’s save our friends, daughters, and sisters the trauma of victimization. Let’s keep our brothers, sons, and cousins from having to face the predicament of being accused of raping someone. We can do this by acknowledging the statistics.
The reality on the RAINN site is, 73% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger, 38% of rapists are friends or acquaintances, and a staggering 28% of rapists are intimate partners. Based on these numbers alone, woman should remain aware, and alert to the idea that a rapist can be anyone. Therefore, being forced to have sex by someone you know is still considered rape.
It is important for us to recognize who the law deems to be a rapist, as well as the punishment for such a heinous crime. In layman’s terms, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts General Laws proclaims a rapist to be one who partakes in sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person and compels the person to submit by force and against their will, or compels a person to submit by threatening them with bodily injury. If found guilty, the perpetrator of rape will be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for no more than twenty years, and whoever commits a second or subsequent offense will be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term or years.
As for the predictable rape we come to expect, Mass. General Laws describes, whoever commits any offense described above while armed with an assault weapon, will be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than ten years . Whoever commits a second or subsequent offense will be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years, but not less than 15 years.
I sat in Daka eating breakfast, and somehow a conversation about rape found me. I listened to young college men talk about how a drunken girl, barely standing could come back to their rooms after a party, consent to sex, and then call it rape. I heard stories of how bizarre it is that married women could say their husband raped them. I found these men believed most accusations of rape should be assumed to be false because most stories you hear “isn’t rape”.
To men all over campus I say, in this state, if a woman is so impaired that she is incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse, and she goes to the room of a man who should know or should have known she couldn’t consent, and the two have sex, that man has just raped that woman according to Commonwealth v. David Balche in 2008. If a married woman tells her husband she does not want to have sex, and he proceeds to have sex with her anyway, that woman has been raped.
Before anyone at Fitchburg State decides to disregard an exploit as some action that isn’t rape, take the time to learn what rape is by inquiring. Also, check out FAVE (Fitchburg Anti-Violence Education), a campus-wide effort to prevent interpersonal and relationship violence, and sexual assault, at Fitchburg State and to support those affected by violence. Knowing what rape is a great step toward preventing as well as reporting rape.