A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to see a one-woman show by the funny and charming @funkybrownchick. She’s a sex educator by profession, so some of the stories she told were quite saucy, some were side-splittingly funny, some were touching, some were sad…and one was scary.
Many years ago, prior to the advent of cell phones, she was traveling back to her home in Chicago when a big snowstorm forced her plane to land in Detroit. They were going nowhere else that night, so the stranded passengers queued up at the airline counters to be assigned hotels. Being an inexperienced traveler, she was slow to queue up, so by the time she got to the hotel shuttle area, it was VERY late (or early depending on how you look at it), and most other passengers had already been ferried to their hotels.
A shuttle driver – in an official shuttle with the names of several hotels on the side – picked her up and then took off without any other passengers.
Women already know what’s about to happen next, but for the fellas, he waited until they were on the highway to start commenting on her looks, asking increasingly inappropriately personal questions, and “joking” about how maybe he’d eventually get her to her hotel.
Remember, no cell phones, and she’s in a city she’s not supposed to be in, in the middle of the night, and no one knows she’s there.
Fortunately, she’s a quick thinker, and she told the driver she was going to be sick to get him to pull over. As soon as the van got to the shoulder and slowed down, she jumped out and started running back towards the airport along the shoulder. She was able to flag down another hotel shuttle full of passengers, who made room for her, and the driver took her back to the airport and dropped her off with the airport police.
Women already know what’s about to happen next, but for the fellas, the cops didn’t believe her. They dismissed her story, told her she was over-reacting, and chided her that the driver was just trying to be friendly.
She spent the night on the floor at the airport and, thank the Goddess, got safely home to Chicago the next day.
The Atlantic recently had a cover story about this phenomenon, titled “An Epidemic of Disbelief.” In short, cops disproportionately (SERIOUSLY disproportionately) don’t believe women who report sexual assault. Because of that, they don’t test rape kits. Not just one or two, not just in one or two places, but hundreds of thousands all across the country. Because of that, serial rapists walk free to assault more women FOR YEARS. FOR DECADES.
Cops also disproportionately (SERIOUSLY disproportionately) don’t believe women who report domestic/intimate partner violence. Because of that, no matter how “strong” your local red flag law, those violent men get to keep their guns. And while not all domestic/intimate partner abusers become mass shooters, nearly all mass shooters start as domestic/intimate partner abusers and share a virulent hatred of women.
Does that mean women never lie about sexual assault or domestic/intimate partner violence? Of course not, but maybe cops could try approaching our tales of victimization the same way they do other crime victims.
Mugging victims *could* be lying about how much cash got taken.
Auto-theft victims *could* just be trying to get away with insurance fraud.
Someone who got punched in a bar might have been the one who started the fight.
But cops don’t start off assuming that the victims are lying, dismissing their reports, and refusing to investigate the crime unless someone provides them with overwhelming evidence that it occurred. Maybe, just maybe, they – and we – could start affording women the same courtesy, just as a test to see what happens.
Image from the Seattle Times.
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