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Your Rape and Sex Jokes are Not Funny

“Hey, wanna smash?” screamed a group of jeering boys from their car window as they drove home with St. Edwards Catholic High School stickers plastered to their vehicles. Their remarks were directed at me as I was walking home from Lakewood High School, and I could see them shouting at other girls who were participating in the same, innocent activity as me.

And those boys are laughing.

They think it’s funny.

But there’s nothing funny about any of the comments that people like them make, because my body and my privacy are not jokes.

I can’t handle being suddenly talked to – or talked at – by people who I don’t know, and the sexual comments made by the boys did not help to reduce my often times high anxiety levels. It did not make me attracted to them either; it made me feel out-of-place with regards to myself and disgusted with these kids.

Of course this may be seen as a minor case, but it was enough to stir my emotions. I, like many other women, walk alone with the fear of being talked to by strange men. From there, my anxiety-ridden mind takes a turn and I become haunted with thoughts of physical and sexual assault.

Sometimes, it gets so bad that I pretend like I’m talking on the phone with my mother as I walk by myself so that people won’t talk to me.

However, I have it easy compared to many women and men. Although I have been subject to a few brief catcalls or obscene remarks, I am not repetitively harassed and I have never been assaulted, which is more than many women can say.

Hand-in-hand with sexual harassment is sexual assault, which is becoming an increasingly prominent issue in our society.

Although many will insist that there are larger problems than sexual assault and harassment, the numbers reveal that these are serious issues. According to the Huffington Post, it is estimated that 17,700,000 women have been raped since 1998, and a sixth of American women have experienced rape or a rape attempt.

Perhaps even more terrifying is the number of juveniles who experience sexual assault. As reported by the group Men Against Sexual Assault, one in three victims is under the age of 12, with two-thirds of sex offenders reporting that their victim was under 18. For a child, this can mean a loss of innocence and a life of mental and emotional turmoil.

For all victims of this crime, there is suffering that comes with it. More statistics reported by the Huffington Post reveal that 36% of women who are raped need medical help after the experience, and 80% of victims experience chronic psychological and physical trauma as time goes on. Compared to the average person, these victims are also 13 times more likely to commit suicide.

One thing that we can do to decrease the number of people who experience such assault and the effects of it is to raise awareness of the issue and halt the harassment that occurs. By doing this, we can insure that more individuals understand the effects of sexual assault on how widespread it is.

So next time you open your mouth to make a “joke” about rape, sexual assault, or objectify women’s bodies, or to laugh about one of these “jokes,” think before you do so: it does not attract the other sex, it only repels them, and it softens the incredibly large problem of sexual assault.

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