The Harvey Weinstein case reignited discussions of sexual harassment and assault, giving more women the courage to share their personal experiences over the past week. Of course, any time women talk about the abuse they've faced, there are inevitably misconceptions that need to be struck down. And with a figurative sledgehammer, Gabrielle Union destroyed the idea that women are raped because of their outfits.
The actress was raped at gunpoint when she was 19 and has spoken publicly about how she coped with her trauma. So when people began discussing what assault survivors chose to wear, she chimed in.
"Reminder. I got raped at work at a Payless shoe store. I had on a long tunic & leggings so miss me w/ 'dress modestly' shit," Union wrote on Twitter Sunday.
Although she didn't explicitly reference it, the overarching discussion online stemmed from an op-ed The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik wrote for the The New York Times. Bialik said she makes "self-protecting and wise" choices, such as reserving her "sexual self" for those she's most intimate with, dressing modestly, and not flirting with men.
Union was not here for anyone implying that clothes have anything to do with sexual assault or that survivors are responsible for what they went through. She explained in a second tweet that she even had "friends" ask questions after her assault that (whether intentionally or not) blame the survivor.
"Though I was raped by a stranger who raped me at gunpoint after robbing the store, I was still asked by a female 'friend' what I had worn," she wrote.
The actress has a book, We're Going to Need More Wine, coming out October 17 that's a collection of essays about gender, race, and Hollywood. Based on her tweets, she discusses her rape in the book because men still try to justify assaulting women or blame survivors.
Hopefully, her words will keep the discussion going and help more people realize that women — and their clothes —are never at fault for being sexually assaulted.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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