During the past four years, I have ingested endless math, language, science, and arts curricula. But through it all, never once was I taught to be a human.
Currently around 50 percent of the world’s population is living in constant danger of being raped. However, this is not an emphasized topic in our schools. Calculus, visual arts, and psychology are great, but where are our lessons in humanity? In a world where rape culture runs rampant, we need to emphasize love, empathy, and understanding, not just how to balance chemical equations.
Sitting here alone in my room, I have frightened myself. I become fearful of the thought of raising a son or daughter in our society. Rape culture hits home for me, even as a male, because I, too, am a victim.
A question floats around in my mind. Why is it okay for a man to be demanding of a partner, but distasteful for a woman to demand respect for her boundaries? It is disgusting to me to think that gender roles have evolved and manifested into a horrific phenomena that devalues women – or anyone – in that regard.
In nursery school and kindergarten, we are taught to be kind, to share, and to respect one another. But as we grow older, these lessons stop. Maturity becomes synonymous with a chip-on-the-shoulder, assertive approach to life and a cold dedication to responsibility. Consideration for others is not emphasized. It becomes “me, me, me” and not “us.” Camaraderie, mutual understanding, and mutual appreciation are not a priority. We forget to teach love, and it produces inhumane and monstrous crimes and a culture where violating another human is acceptable. The evidence is clear, but instead of taking action, we make a mockery of it or simply ignore it.
I was younger than 10 when I was made to perform sexual acts on my older male and female distant cousins. As a child, I didn’t comprehend what was happening or understand the gravity of the situation. Looking back now, I feel lucky that the course of my life was not horribly altered by this. Amazingly, I don’t feel victimized. Sometimes, due to the years that have passed since, it just feels like a dream, and I wonder now if that’s how rape victims feel after being violated.
Although I know my attempt at empathy isn’t enough to fully relate, I know that I can use my own experiences to fuel my fight for the eradication of rape culture and the establishment of a global appreciation for human life outside of the individual.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.