let's talk.

here's something my criminal law professor said in class yesterday: "you know, they put the theft chapter in the very back of the book because no one ever teaches it. most people spend time on 'more interesting' crimes, like sexual assault. but i don't want people to be uncomfortable."

seriously? yup.

and i know, just know, that he didn't mean it like that. he worked for over a decade as a special prosecutor for sex crimes in milwaukee. he made a great impression on me when he called a supreme court justice a "blithering fool" for saying "mrs. x wasn't harmed. she was only raped." i like this man. a lot.

i know (hope, hope, hope) what he meant was that he knows how hard it is to talk about. and that statistically, at least five people in the class have experienced sexual assault. and who wants to put a bunch of frightened, over-worked, under-estimated, hanging by a thread 1Ls in that position?

but i spent my entire career as an undergrad fighting this mentality. we have to, have to, have to talk about it. if you're not ready to share your story, that's, of course, okay. it's more than okay. but as long as we don't talk about the fact that our mothers, daughters, aunts, cousins, friends, sisters, neices, granddaughters, step-sisters, teachers, employees, students (and everyone else i didn't mention) are being raped, it will continue to happen.

(window paint during v-week.)

i learned too late that rape isn't about sex. it's not about sex at all. it's about power. we take some of that power away every time we talk about it.

in four years, i got to watch a campus tucked in the South, veiled in a cloth of politeness and avoidance, transform into a place where people talked and people listened. we re-wrote the sexual assault and harassment policy. we put on programs that involved men and women, upper and lower classmen. we got people to pay attention to rape. to sexual harassment. to molestation. because silence, my friends, cures nothing. the sheer act of talking about rape, of raising voices and consciousnesses, undermines what is nothing less than a rape culture.

so let's talk. it doesn't have to be rushed or slow or drawn out or panicked or shameful. but let's talk. let's not avoid the topic in criminal law classes because it might make someone uncomfortable. (because, honestly, i would be uncomfortable. but i want to know.)

(The Vagina Monologues cast.)


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