Rape and Sexual Assault: Who Will Be Your “1 in”?
My high school has an annual violence against women awareness day. One year the student group that organizes the event covered the walls with homemade posters of pictures of Barbie dolls smeared in ketchup-like fake blood. Over the image were the words “think of three women you know—one of them will be raped in her lifetime.”
That day in English class a student passionately complained that the posters were inaccurate and should never have been allowed to be displayed. He argued that those statistics are based on a random sample, and the group of three women that we, students at a public school in a wealthy suburb, would think of would never be random enough to make the probability valid. He seemed extremely outraged about what he considered manipulative and deceiving use of a statistic, but I was sure that what had upset him so much was not the printing and posting of incorrect information. I thought that he had been shaken by the idea that his mother, sister, girlfriend could actually be that “1 in,” and he had to rationalize against it.
Some of the students involved in the group that had made the posters were in the class, and they reacted with equally intense conviction. Their point was that even if the information on the poster did not apply directly to him as it was stated, it was true for someone. Whether it was his 1 in 3 or someone else’s, the message was getting across.
A few years later, one of my friends became my 1 in. During one of our many conversations about what she was going through, she asked me if I remembered that poster of the bloody Barbie doll from high school. She said, “The only good thing about this is that I’m glad it was me instead of any of the women I love, that I thought of that day.”
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