A Life Without Rape

Rape has absolutely nothing to do with sex.

Rape is the use of a reproductive organ to commit violence or murder. The organ can easily be substituted with a gun.

Rape is a human rights violation as outlined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The latter declares all human beings as born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Every day, our women and girl children are held at gun point and raped, brutally. Every day, some family member, a father, brother, uncle, cousin, commits violent incest on our daughters.

In their effort to seek help, most of the time, our children are threatened with death. Sometimes, the silence stands to thwart threats to kill the one closest to the girls, their mothers, if they speak, if they tell.

In daily life, we have an entire population of girls who grow up and play out life with a secret that no one knows but God. Even as I write this, a young girl child, probably nine years old, or fourteen, is being raped.

Yet no one speaks about it in the news. There are no marches in protest or uproar. No political leader is pushing a bill through Congress asking that this evil crime against our girls be put to a stop. Very few
people even talk about it. But it is our reality. It is happening in our neighbor’s house. It is happening in our family. It is happening at school. It is happening in the open public. It is happening in our own homes.

The other day I had a young woman tell me that when she turned fourteen, the boyfriend of a cousin, along with his homeboy, put a gun to her mouth and raped her in a basement. Brutally. Told her if she told we’ll kill you. Both live on the same block with this young woman. When she was nine years old, according to another sister, a family friend, a grown man entering middle age, raped her. Violently.

We hear other stories around the world which mirror this condition of epidemic proportion. A young woman, a university student in India, was recently gang-raped. She died due to the severity of the violence to her internal organs. Mass rapes operate as a war strategy throughout Africa, especially in the Congo.

Then there are horrific stories of incest, of fathers impregnating daughters, of brothers subjecting their own sisters to a childhood of abuse, of step-parents looting innocence from the clan, family members who rape their biological kin.

This moral crisis, and solving it, must become the test of our generation.

We have to start thinking and doing something about this for you see the violence has become quasi-normal and has thus peaked out of control. Rape is easily becoming the new normal for childhood, the
coming of age experience for women.

We can ask questions about why men rape or why our girl children are being violated in epic proportion. We can speculate on the inherent evil tendencies in human nature, about the role of television and drugs. Seventy percent of rapes involve alcohol. We can even wonder about the role of sadism in human-to-human relationships. Sadism is pleasure gained from inflicting pain on someone by way of violence, humiliation, and degradation. It is a wicked behavioral disorder.

We can also condemn the billion dollar pornography industry. We can challenge the music. Still, the raping of our daughters has everything to do with our level of respect for women and girls and therefore the respect we have for ourselves, we who perpetrate or condone rape.

If we see our women as divine, as Godly, the way we see the Pope, if we judge every soul as sacred, as chosen, somewhat like how the Jewish people self-define themselves, if we qualify power and success to love and fairness, if we respect and honor ourselves, if we adopt an attitude of hope in our children, and not just the boys, but especially the girls, we will not plan to rape. Rape will cease to exist, forever.

Rape exists because we consider girls to be worth nothing. We believe them to be worthless objects for our most evil instincts. Girls function for us as universal scapegoats. We unload our most wicked beliefs and behaviors onto them. A scapegoat is a person singled out for merciless negative treatment and/or blame. The scapegoat serves as the blamer for personal wrongs or ills. In order to not feel worthless, we transmit the feeling to vulnerable people, usually women and children. This we choose rather than taking personal responsibility for our evil feelings and deeds, and then by self-correcting ourselves with moral discipline and forgiveness.

As a first priority, we need to develop a healthy and clear voice about ending rape because it is immoral and wicked. Secondly, we need to think about and treat our girl children with total holiness. We need to teach our boys to respect and love their sisters. If God made us in his own image, who is to say that his form isn't that of one of our most precious little girls?

Thirdly, we need to begin to hold people who rape accountable. The belief that women have no worth, therefore we can violate them as we wish without legal and moral consequence is a grand delusion. The truth is, every human being is divine and has an original, universal purpose. We are also all made in God's image. In other words, when you rape your sister, when you rape your mother, or the neighbor down the street, your behavior is the ultimate act of rape against God.

Rape is an act of self-rape. Rape is a crime of complete doom. It is the ultimate crime against the Divine. There is no turning back from it.

On a whole different level, there is a kind of rape that affects women daily: psychological or mental rape. To mentally rape a woman is to force her to submit to standards and practices which degrade and victimize her moral soul. By force I mean the sway of custom, the policing of people, and the media's role in sending out of signal images which degrade women. To degrade is to treat and regard someone with hate and disrespect.

We are degraded in magazine pictures, on billboards, in movies and on television shows. Our degradation is empowered by a universal belief that all women are naturally inferior, and objects for sexual pleasure, only. To teach a young girl these lies as facts is to rape her mind. This is devastating for her spiritual growth.

We are mentally raped every time we turn on the television and witness dishonest representations of women and girls as lusty and hyper-sexual. Our music reinforces these immoral images too. It is this form of rape, the mental kind, negative energy put on the psyche and ego, which becomes repressed or stored deep within our minds. The repressed then manifests into unconscious attitudes and behaviors. Like a spell, we mostly have no control over these actions or thoughts except perhaps in hindsight or due to an adverse consequence. The latency of mental illnesses, which affects women disproportionately, for example, depression and low self-esteem, result from a daily culture of psychological rape.

Regardless to our experiencing rape, our state of mind, and will power, definitely determines whether or not we choose to live as victims or as healthy free human beings. By will power, I mean personal methods of self-discipline, the training that goes into self-control and moral conduct. It is therefore very important to begin to develop a consciousness that dictates what we choose or choose not to think and do. Becoming aware can begin with the simple asking of questions. Why am I here? Why has this happened to me? Why do I feel this way? Consciousness or awareness of forces in play also serves as a healthy tool for ignoring or expelling violent images, words, attitudes and experiences from within.

Perhaps even more powerful is the need to create our own personal images, attitudes, and ideas about who we really are. These images should focus on honest, positive and spiritually rewarding non-sexual beliefs. For example, the image of a woman as universally equal, as possessing both good and bad qualities, as naturally worthy. What would a woman of such virtue look like? What would she speak every day? What about images which have yet to be invented? Original material.

I say this last point about original material because the social practice of rape, while universal, when historically applied to the United States, has existed as an intentional program of violence, beginning with American Slavery, to degrade and destroy us. This tradition, four hundred years and counting, continuing today, is a tradition of the past. This past must be eradicated. Our loyalty is to our present. Part of our present responsibility is to invent or advocate for images, programs, and practices which maintain and encourage the healthy development of a woman’s humanity. This program must be articulated as the end of rape in every area of social life and also in the home.

Finally, to my sister-survivors, and also to my sisters who despair, know this. Those of us who know better pray and work on your behalf. We love you. We are hopeful. You will heal. Love will set you free. We pray that like Lazarus you are able to rise from death to live and love better. Have the courage to overcome and become the beautiful, creative soul that your Creator carved you to be. Despite our being raped, we are beautiful. We are good. We are not to blame. It is not our fault. It is not your shame. You are an amazing soul, naturally divine. Rape does not define who we are. The most difficult life circumstances are meant to propel you. The biggest challenges are our greatest opportunities

for success, happiness, and peace of mind. The fact of our survival is proof enough of our divine purpose. We possess superhuman qualities. And, the day will come when none of us will ever be raped again. That is our hope. This is our vision for the present.

Look deep within. Dream up a life without rape.

**Dr. P holds a Ph.D. in English from Stony Brook University. She is a Grenada-born Brooklyn-based Poet and Essayist.

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