OK, you got me. The statistics don’t show a majority of women having been victims of sexual assault. But I’m not sure just how accurate these statistics are, when literally *every single woman I know* — including my mother, grandmother, friends, co-workers — has experienced rape or attempted rape in some form or fashion. Yes, I know anecdotes =/= data. But I also know that sexual assault is the least reported crime, and of the few that are reported, it’s the least likely crime for a perpetrator to be sent behind bars for. Are all those assaults and attempted assaults that end up being disbelieved by cops or acquitted in court counted in those statistics?
Tell me, have you ever changed your plans because you didn’t feel safe being somewhere (a bar, a dark street, whatever)? Do you have a mental checklist of “safety tips” you go through every time you leave the house, or return to your car in a parking lot? Do you have a friend or two that you have an arrangement with, to tell them where you are and who you’re with, just in case “something happens”? Do you agonize over what you’ll wear each day, trying to determine if an outfit might be considered “asking for it”?
How confident are you that if you went to the police after an assault, they would believe you and treat you as a victim, and not a liar?
The statistics do not tell the truth of women’s lives in this country. We are so commonly the victims of assault — sexual assault and domestic violence — that we have to think about it, plan around it, worry about it, on a daily basis. And this isn’t just a case of fear being whipped up by the media. How many stories do you see on the news about domestic violence or rape? Unless the man actually killed the woman, or he’s a serial rapist who has already gotten away with many rapes, the answer is, “few to none.” We have this fear because our mothers, aunts, sisters, and friends have experienced this, and we’ll likely experience it too.
I do not doubt that men are victims of violent crime. I also do not doubt that men are the majority of perpetrators of violent crime. I don’t say this to paint a gender with a broad brush. I say this because I’m in the gender that’s on the receiving end of this violence far too often.
You can cite all the numbers you like. Until you have to walk around in a woman’s body, you have no idea about our relationship to crime. All victims — male, female, and other — deserve respect and access to justice. Downplaying the very real lived experiences women have isn’t the way to do that.