Last year April, I explained how I think wearing red lipstick can change the world (kinda, sorta). About this wonderful non-profit Red My Lips and their wonderful message. So I don’t need to tell you again. This year, let me tell you why I’m wearing red lipstick.
I’m doing this for my friend who was groped by a family member as a little girl.
For my other friend who was sexually abused by a friend of the family as a little boy.
I’m doing this for my friend who’s teacher took advantage of her in high school.
For my other friend who’s high school boyfriend didn’t stop when she asked him to.
I’m doing this for my friend who was raped in college.
For my other friend who was gang raped in college.
For so many friends, that there’s really too many too list.
I’m doing this for all of you who are reading this and thinking, “Wow – me, too. My friends, too.” I’m especially doing this for all of you reading this and thinking, “Wow – you know so many. What are the odds? How do you know so many and I don’t?” Here’s the problem: you do.
You do, without knowing it. Approximately every 107 seconds, a sexual assault is committed in America (that’s less than two minutes, for all you non-math folk). 1 in 7 women have been victims of an attempted or completed rape. ONE. IN. SEVEN. 1 in 33 men have been victims of an attempted or completed rape. The age for a male most likely to be a victim is 4 years old; the age most likely for a female to be a victim is 14. Don’t just read these as statistics, read these as real life: Think of the 7 women you interact with most often – your friends, your girlfriend, your co-workers, your mom. 1 of them has been assaulted. Think of the last 4 year old boy you saw – your nephew, a friend’s son, a cutie in line at the grocery story. He’s at risk. How are we okay with this?? How are we not doing more?
(There are varying statistics on the issue, partly because most sexual assault isn’t reported. Please don’t argue over if it’s 1 in 7 women or 1 in 9 or 1 in 5, please don’t lecture me on men being raped more than women, please don’t spend more time debating over the definition of an actual assault versus attempted. Let’s not hide in debates over numbers so we can avoid the issue at hand. Let’s focus on what’s really going on: whatever the statistics are, they are much too high. Whichever gender is getting raped more often, rape is still an issue. Whether it was attempted or completed, assault is much too common.)
So I’m wearing red lipstick, to raise awareness. So we can talk about this. I’m wearing red lipstick, smudged some days, faded others, so people ask me why. So people comment. So people take notice of a small difference about my appearance, and I can hopefully help them take notice of a big problem in society.
I’m wearing red lipstick, in honor of the victims. In honor of my friends. I’m wearing lipstick to show my support, my love, my admiration. You are the brave ones. You are the strong ones. You are not defined by what may have happened to you, you are not limited by other’s choices. You may have been a victim of assault, but you aren’t a victim in life. You are a warrior. You are a hero. I see you, I hear you, I salute you – this month, with my lipstick.
I’m wearing red lipstick, as a war cry. We can’t read those statistics, see how many victims we have in our midst, and ignore the ugly truth: for every victim, there’s an attacker. For every crime, there’s the one who commits it. We live amongst rapists and predators, pedophiles and perpetrators. We know them. By default, some of us are them. And I’m not okay with it. I’m wearing red lipstick, to let you know, whoever you are, that I’m not sitting in silence allowing rape culture to continue on. I’m sick of a “justice system” that often reaches little justice. I’m tired of a society who perpetrates victim blaming. I hate that only 2% of rapists spend a day in jail. TWO PERCENT. I’m done with it – so see my red lipstick as a threat, because you aren’t going to keep getting away with this.
Even if you don’t want to join me in wearing red lipstick this month (but I’d love it if you did!), you can still take part in Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Do some research and educate yourself on the issue (fair warning, the statistics are alarming). Talk to some friends about it, ask questions – What do you guys think of this? What do you think needs to change? How can we be a part of that? Be more aware of nonchalant victim blaming that goes on in our world, and start standing up against it. Be more aware of nonchalant victim blaming that goes on in your head, and start pushing back against it. There are so many little steps, little ways to make a different. Find one. Do one.
*All of the statistics used here, for consistency’s sake, are from RAINN – the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Like I’ve said before, statistics on the issue vary. I decided to use one source, but there are plenty great ones out there!