“What were you wearing? Did you have anything to drink that night? Were you acting flirty? How much did you drink? Who gave you the drink? Why were you going to this party? Why were you walking alone? Why didn’t you use pepper spray? Are you sure you did that? Are you normally a heavy drinker? Are you sexually active? Have you ever cheated? What does this text mean? You couldn’t just close your legs?”
These are just some of the questions that victims of rape and sexual harassment are asked by police, lawyers, judges, and society. With the even earlier release of Brock Turner, a former student of Stanford University who was found guilty of three felony sexual assaults, people everywhere are taking a stand to point out the obscenity of victim blaming and rape culture.
Many media outlets have been reporting with headlines such as “He’s so young, he doesn’t deserve all that prison time. He’s a star athlete. He has his whole life ahead of him.” My inspiration for this was a letter written by the young woman assaulted by Turner. She wrote to her rapist, and talked about the emotional wrath that came after the incident.
With these images I am drawing much needed attention to how victims of rape and sexual assault feel when their prosecutors are let out of jail on “good behavior” and talked about as “amazing athletes”, while they sit at home wondering what they did wrong or hating their own bodies. I hope to open people’s eyes to how wrong victim blaming is, what consent really means, and that NO means NO, no matter the situation.