By Daniela Mainz
Ask me when I’ve felt rape culture.
I felt it silently hug itself around me when I learned that I can never walk alone at when I’m out and a whistle your way hints at more of an insult than a compliment.
I felt it when President Donald Trump said “grab them by the pussy”, instilling in me a deep fear that men in power continue to disrespect my body and those of other women.
I felt it with Brock Turner. It enveloped me as I read his sentencing and it silently wrapped itself as I was reminded that the body of a woman means nothing in the judicial system.
Ask me how I feel rape culture.
I feel its roots sink into my skin when I’m walking at night and have my phone bright with the numbers 911 just in case.
I feel it when I’m blamed for the fingers on my skin, sticky with alcohol, all too aware of the danger of giving any sign of interest or standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I feel it when stats of sexual assault against women of color, transgender people, those who do not identify on any spectrum, reflect an utter disrespect of their humanity and existence.
I feel it with my trauma that runs so deep that it suffocates me to the point of numbness.
Ask me when I feel hope.
I feel it when women support other women in their allegations, because standing alone is too daunting, too scary, but the power in numbers creates ripples in a movement greater than us.
I feel it within me. When rape culture seems to strangle the words and the courage out of me, I am reminded that I am here for more. I am here for more love, more faith, more livelihood in the future.
And that gives me hope.