I am really happy with the progress I’ve seen in my time on rape culture. I am glad to see a lot of people show up and be heard and stand in solidarity. However, campus rape and college-aged rape really takes up a lot of space in the conversation. So much of the anti-rape movement conversation circulates about modes of dress and drinking and enthusiastic consent and other things that really zero in on a certain age bracket. Survivors of sexual abuse show up to this conversation and we’re supportive, we want to be, but why are we an afterthought in the conversation?
There is this sort of dominant idea that rape and molestation are all under one umbrella, but they aren’t, not fully. Children have very few rights, especially if their legal guardians are somehow absent or untrustworthy. There is often a particularly horrible power dynamic involved, also, between rapist and victim in such a way that you don’t see in the majority of adult rapes. Adult rape survivor bloggers freely comment on headline making molestation cases, but they may not have a very good grasp of all the factors in play. For example, even if they are able to acquire the means (which is a huge if), children are unable to consent to their own medical treatment for the injuries and illnesses they receive in the course of a sexual assault. I myself was denied treatment for a UTI as a child because I didn’t come in with parental consent.
I could talk at length about all the ways I’ve been shut out or silenced from the mainstream dialogue; about how my experiences did not entirely align with a sex positive perspective, or how in circumstances like mine, bystander and legal intervention were pretty much the only viable options to help, but that both of those things are considered regressive in feminist circles, but it’s a tale for another day. I would just like people to give space to the narratives of survivors of child molestation, and not just by borrowing their headlines, or lumping their statistics together with adult rape survivors. There is another conversation there.