I love to sprint around the track late at night alone, with the stars gleaming above, connecting me to the Milky Way and worlds beyond. But I don’t. As a woman, running at night is something I can’t do because I don’t want to assume the risk of being raped.
Some men don’t seem to understand. After the Stanford University swimmer got a six-month sentence–only six!--for rape, his father ranted that because of 20 minutes of misjudgment, his son’s life was ruined.
Lucretia was famous in Ancient Rome, but not, in my mind, for a good reason. A group of husbands were bragging about what wonderful wives they had. When they visited the wives to show them off, they found each woman socializing (like the men). Not Lucretia. She was busy working with wool, like the ideal Roman wife. Nights later, when Lucretia’s husband was away, one of the men crept to Lucretia’s bedroom and told her that she must submit to rape. Or he’d kill her and a slave and claim he caught them in a disgraceful sexual act. Lucretia chose the more honorable route, but after she told her father and husband, she took a dagger and killed herself.
This piece of Ancient Roman history is celebrated, they say, because it spurred Lucretia’s husband and father to seek revenge. The men eventually overthrew the monarchy and started the Roman Republic.
But what of Lucretia and her life? And the rape victim of the Stanford swimmer?
Why don’t we rant about the devastating effect of rape on women’s lives?