Why Women Report Sexual Assault in the Face of Conviction Deficit
In our latest episode, we reviewed Know My Name by Chanel Miller, the woman who survived sexual assault at the hands of Brock Turner. Read the excerpt below on how we handle sexual assault in this country:
Emma: There is this idea that someone is only coming forward to talk about sexual assault or abuse for attention, money, or to defame the other person. Chanel addresses this on page 291 of the book:
“He may sit in a cell, but he will never know what it's like to be unhomed from his own body. We do not fight for our own happy endings. We fight to say you can't. We fight for accountability. We fight to establish precedent. We fight because we pray we will be the last ones to feel this kind of pain.”
She goes on to talk about how the reason women stay behind closed doors for so long after sexual assault is because of fear of the retribution they'll face. They only come forward because they can’t live with it any longer. They come forward because they are thinking about the community of women that is being affected by these people's actions. She talks about cases like Cosby, Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump, where there's a cacophony of women that come forward and only after it’s impossible to ignore do people start to recognize the wrong that's been done. Only once 20, 50, 60 women come forward and say, “this person harmed me” does the system acknowledge it. But even then, it's assumed that at least 40% of them are lying. It's a really potent illustration to me that it takes 60 women's bodies to even confront the harm that one man's body has done. 60 to 1. It's absolutely insane, but it illustrates the way that women are so devalued. There is still all this talk about how women are equal to men, that we have this beautiful and utopian society, and how the United States is the best country in the world. But it still takes 60 women for 1 man to face sufficient repercussions. How many women does it take for a man to get put in prison for sexual assault? 60. Sexual assault is only valid when there's overwhelming evidence, when really, if there is a hint of evidence, it needs to be scrutinized and considered.
For more on Chanel Miller’s brilliant book, listen to the full episode here.