Our realities


Jocelyn Sweeney and Paul Stryker

Jocelyn: My heart races. It’s past 11, and I have to walk to my car alone. I walk quickly, phone in hand, looking around. Only one more street. I swear a car slows down seeing me waiting alone at the crosswalk. My car’s only a few feet away now. I look through the back windows before getting in and immediately relock the doors.

Paul:  It’s 11, and I’m just getting out of work, but I don’t mind. I leisurely start walking to my car. I think nothing of the strangers and cars passing me. I get in and carefully pick a playlist for my drive home. I never think about locking my doors. Why would I need to?

Jocelyn:  “Look what I got your sister,” my uncle says. “Mace that can go on her keychain.” Over Thanksgiving he noticed my sister didn’t have mace on her keys, and she lives 7 hours away. Concerned for her safety, he had the mace waiting when we walked in on Christmas Eve.

Paul: “You’ll laugh at what I got everyone for Christmas this year,” my uncle says. My family Christmas is always full of gag gifts. My uncle got me a Michigan Pillow Pet. He wasn’t worried about my safety; he wanted to get me something amusing that I would remember.

Jocelyn: I wake up on a Sunday morning to missed texts from my friend late the night before. I’m immediately concerned that she needed help, and I didn’t pick up. Someone could have assaulted and abandoned her somewhere. Luckily, she was fine and just thought of something funny to tell me, but the other possibilities crossed my mind first.

Paul: I see a few notifications pop up on my phone. One of my friends is texting me late at night. I assume he wants to hang out the next day or talk about the recent Detroit Lions game. Whatever he wants, I’m sure he can wait until morning. The thought that something is wrong doesn’t cross my mind.

Jocelyn: I don’t believe I should walk around terrified all the time, but assault crosses my mind regularly.

Paul: I don’t think about getting assaulted. Ever. I can’t imagine not feeling safe doing normal things.

   This is the reality for most people, but not everyone seems aware. In October, Donald Trump said, “It’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of.” We can’t understand why anyone would believe this, but influential people like Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and Fox News host Tucker Carlson echoed Trump’s statement.

   In an interview with Vulture, Trebek said, “My gosh, this has got to be a scary time for men… there are guys out there — young guys are stupid in their teens. There’s nothing stupider than a teenage boy. They’re operating on testosterone.” What? Trebek’s comment shows ignorance. Testosterone isn’t the cause of rape, and young men aren’t the only perpetrators. Most men can “control” themselves and won’t sexually assault someone in their lifetime.

   We don’t know what world these people live in, but it’s not the one we’ve experienced.

   Men Against Abuse Now (MAAN), a nonviolence group at Stanford University, reported that, “Only about 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false, the same percentage as for other felonies.” Being falsely accused is rare; comments like Trump’s make people believe women make up allegations regularly. Realistically, men and women share a higher chance of being raped than being falsely accused.

   Are false allegation enough to ruin, or as Carlson said, “systematically destroy”, someone’s reputation and career? Several women accused Brett Kavanaugh, and he was still appointed to the highest court, receiving a lifetime job. He’s not the only example, despite countless comments and allegations against Trump, millions still voted for him as president.

Jocelyn and Paul: Anyone who thinks they should fear false accusations is living in ignorance. It’s not a hard time for young men in America; it’s a hard time for abusers being rightfully held accountable for their actions. And it remains a hard time for women who want to protect themselves from becoming a victim.