This last week has been all about women; well, all about two women: Hillary Clinton and Emily Doe.
On Monday evening, we were told that a handful of previously uncommitted superdelegates had decided to back Secretary Clinton thereby clinching the nomination of the first woman on a major party ticket for the presidency.
Just three days before that, Ms. Doe’s letter, the same one she read in open court during the sentencing hearing of the man convicted of raping her was published, in its entirety, on BuzzFeed. The next day, it got picked up by Reddit and over the next 72-hours got 5.1 million reads.
As someone with a vagina, it was a tough week for women.
For me, instead of feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment that we as a nation had finally endorsed the merits of the possibility of the Free World being headed by a woman, I was reminded of how terrible it can be to have been born with two X chromosomes.
In a state where the rule of law required the judge to hand down a minimum sentence of two years for the crimes of intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person, the perpetrator was giving a quarter of this required sentence.
Although the issues surrounding this case are broad, I’m not interested in commenting on judicial discretion, classism, white privilege, or any other talking point that this case has sparked. For me (someone with a vagina) and for the one in six American women (with vaginas) who will be a victim of sexual violence in the course of her lifetime, this last week has been a juxtapositional nightmare.
I imagine that there will be many people who use college and high school graduations to make commentary on the notion that “You can be whatever you want to be in this world.” Some might even directly cite Secretary Clinton’s unprecedented accomplishment. But wouldn’t it be so much more honest and realistic to tell our young people, especially our young women, that their chances of being a woman nominated for president is one in 250,000 million (0.000004%) while they have a one in 6 chance (close to 17%) of being raped?
Today. In 2016.
With no indication that the rate of rape is slowing down and now with a clear statement that even if you–as a victim of a violent crime–come forward and undertake the humiliating, exhaustive, and re-traumatizing task of going forward against your rapist, there is the reality that it was all for nothing, or close to nothing. And while your letter will circulate widely, so will another that will garner the sympathetic support from an wide swath of our population who will agree that “20 minutes of action” does not deserve the minimum punishment set forth in the law.
So as much as I’d like to tell my daughter that the world is her oyster, I think she’d be better off if I taught her about the pandemic culture of rape we continue to live in here in the good ol’ U.S. of A, where just this week the first ever woman rose to a heretofore never attained height.
What a time to be someone with a vagina.