New rape law symbolic of `Why Me?’ society

(U-WIRE) SEATTLE – Hello. My name is Christina Miller and I am a victim of rape.

Now, considering I’m a 20-year-old college woman living in a culture where tell-all biographies and memoirs of terrible childhoods make the bestseller list each year, this confession may not surprise you.

However, if you are sexually active, you have likely been a rape victim yourself.

Surprised yet?

According to a Committee Organizing Rape Education presentation I attended in December, the definition of third-degree rape in the state of Washington defines the crime as such: If two parties willfully engage in sexual activities, but neither gives explicit verbal consent, and one party feels violated the next day, a rape has occurred.

Assuming the sense of violation is implicit in the act of pressing charges, and that most lawmakers wouldn’t presume to legislate something as intangible as emotion, this law states that in the absence of verbal consent, any sexual encounter is a potential rape.

True rape victims should be offended at my claim of sharing their painful experience of survival, as well as should any sensible person be offended at my presumption. Rape implies one party overpowering, dominating and victimizing another. How can this mere lack of verbal consent be considered rape when the “victim” presumably has the power to end the encounter by saying “no”?

This is not an instance of rape; it is an instance of sexual miscommunication fueled by a lack of assertiveness and self-respect. Most of us have come to learn that no means no, but it takes a far stretch of the imagination, not the mention the law, to claim that active participation or indifference means no.

Regardless of when the law hit the books, it’s a perfect symbol for our waning, whining decade. This law feeds right into our overwhelming culture of victimhood by allowing an easy way out of accepting responsibility and into the more desirable position of placing blame.

Instantly, with one morning-after accusation, the “victim” can shed all personal responsibility regarding the sexual act, forget any shame or regret at not refusing unwanted sex and place all the blame and responsibility on the unwitting partner. Rather than accepting the fact that he or she is responsible for his or her choice to shut up and put out, this definition of rape provides a legal means of blame, magically transforming an irresponsible person into a victim – a modern Cinderella story.

If the 1970s introduced the “Me” generation, the ’90s have certainly produced the “Why Me?” generation. Never before has the status of victim held such appeal. Victims of childhood abuse tell their chilling stories not in a therapist’s office or among close friends and relatives, but on national talk shows in the new trend of daytime traumatainment.

Those who can’t remember alleged abuses search for them passionately. The unproven, non-scientific theory of memory recovery has exploded into our consciousness, spawning a booming business of therapeutic techniques and books aimed at consumers just itching to find traumas to explain away their every flaw.

A syndrome has been created to justify every personality flaw, and perfectly valid psychological ailments have been exploited to do the same. Only a few years back, a main filed a lawsuit against an employer who had fired him for consistent lateness, claiming that his perpetual tardiness to work could be explained by his suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of childhood verbal abuse.

Not surprisingly, he won his job back with disability benefits to boot, helping to spread our love affair with victimhood into the judicial arena and paving the way for the use, and abuse, of such inane laws as that applying to third-degree rape.

People are no longer so much admired for what they accomplish in their lives but for what they’ve survived in the past. We live in a time where what’s been done to you is considered more a part of your character and personality than what you’ll ever do, a backwards and dangerous notion.

Our culture is breeding a generation of overly self-analytical, responsibility phobic wussies. The trend doesn’t seem to be letting up.

We’ve got one year left to salvage this “Why Me?” decade. I certainly hope this isn’t the legacy we leave for future generations to remember us by.

Forgive my anger and bile, you’ll have to remember that I’m a victim.

But then, aren’t we all?

-Christina Miller is a student at the University of Washington.

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