Awareness, Feminism | Posted by Grace Brown on 08/22/2012

A Letter To Each Of You

I’m sure you’ve seen it in the news this week. The headlines are everywhere and my Twitter feed is decorated with rants from various people I follow: a man running for senate named Todd Akin used the term “legitimate rape” when asked about abortion legality. He has also used a modifier in the past, stating the phrase “forcible rape”. It is clear that the reality of “rape is rape” is lost on him.

Stepping away from the abortion debate, I wanted to address this because I know how upsetting it was to read that headline at first. My heart sunk. For ten seconds, I felt a mixture of anger and sadness and frustration, as if all of the work I put into this topic just continues to fade into the ignorance of others. It’s easy to settle into the feeling of never getting anywhere if you let yourself stay that way. But I’m not like that, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way either. Maybe I’m hopelessly optimistic. But from my experience, that’s the only way I know how to try to change the world.

So this letter is for you, whoever you are. The survivor. The sister or brother or mother or father or friend of a survivor. The activist. The person who tirelessly answers the sexual assault hotline. The shelter volunteer. The police officer, the lawyer, the judge. The person who simply feels passionate about this. Although it may seem like the opposite, Mr. Akin’s words aren’t actually setting us back. In fact, with each ignorant comment made by someone, and each time it gets into the media outlets, the topic of rape and sexual assault is becoming less and less of a taboo. For every person like Mr. Akin who says something along those lines, there are thousands – millions – of others crying in outrage. And there are even more who are finally realizing the gravity of the issue.

We are getting there. The silence is ending. Please don’t lose hope.

With love, gratitude, and optimism,

Grace

Grace is the founder of Project Unbreakable where this post was originally published.

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  • isobel @ at 10:00 pm, August 23rd, 2012

    I also get very angry when i see articles that promote the idea that women are responsible for rape and the men don’t need to take any,.”because rape just happens and women need to be careful.”
    I have only recently been reading about violence against women from a few feminst books (because i wanted to learn more about this issue) and i notice that the attitude towards rape just reflects how society views womens, hence” legitimate rape”, as only some violence towards women is legitimate, unless their drinks or drugs invole then it’s her fault and having women denied rights of an abortion is just a way to control us and or punish women for not taking proper percausion , for their safety.
    It only worry’s me when i hear a government denying women rights to make decisions as to when they should keep a child or not, instead it’s done for them.
    I wouldn’t say all the work you have done has gone to waste because when people reaf articles like, Todd Akins on abortion, it just gets people to make that step and speak up against it, through blogging, comments and activist movements were still making a difference, so don’t be dishearten , i hate to hear things like this too.

  • Kalinda @ at 1:39 pm, September 5th, 2012

    Wow. Todd Akin may be a pro-life person with an extremely poor way of conveying his beliefs, (and IMHO an idiot) but I don’t think Grace really read the article. “Legitimate rape” means a rape that actually occurred, as opposed to a claimed one that did not occur (happens).

    Forcible rape is different from Statutory rape. Statutory rape is often consensual, just the consenting parties are too young for the criminal code. So really, rape is not rape, depending on how old you are and what state you are in.

  • Jennie @ at 6:42 am, December 2nd, 2012

    Thank you for your nice, heartfelt writing. I am a rape survivor. Even though this happened 15 years ago, the nightmares are still there, the ptsd, the anger, rage, and sorrow. Mr. Akin will most likely never experience the feeling of being penetrated against his will, or sexually assaulted. His wife is no better. How can she love a man who thinks like this? This guy has turned a blind eye to all of the pain, agony, tears, and sadness of women and girls who have had to experience rape and it’s stifling aftermath. Thank you for your strength, courage and vigilance on this important issue!

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