At least what I try for these days. After reading all the wonderful comments, I realize that part of me remained in victim mode. Thanks to all of you for the wakeup call and the support.
My friend, VCM, wrote a wonderful, long comment and I responded to him in an equally long email (maybe longer).
Before I talk myself out of it, here (paraphrased slightly) is my reply to him. I think it expresses my thoughts 50+ years later. Obviously, I don't have it all worked out yet. If you read his comment first, my reply may make a little more sense.
I said "date rape" because even today it's the much harder version of the crime to prove. Of course rape is rape. However, unless a woman staggers into an emergency room unshowered and battered almost beyond recognition (appropriately dressed of course otherwise she asked for it), she obviously deserved what she got. She shouldn't have done this, she should have done that. Where were the witnesses? Are we sure she didn't consent? He said this, she said that. To quote myself and shame on me for it (she shouldn't have accepted the ride). Medieval is an excellent word.
In fairness, women don't always tell the truth for a number of reasons (and our system wisely provides for presumption of innocence) but I think in most cases women wouldn't go through the trauma involved with reporting rape unless it actually occurred. Why would we put ourselves through that experience?
Forcible rape by stranger doesn't fare a lot better. She shouldn't have been alone on that dark street. She should have fought harder. She should have, shouldn't have, ad nauseam. Always blame the victim, publicly humiliate the victim.
And then we have spousal rape.
And sexual child abuse.
All about power and control - all evil - not a lot to do with sex.
I've thought sometimes that rape should be considered felonious assault (at the least) and punishable accordingly. Maybe if the sexual component were removed, we'd fare better. I honestly don't know.
Once I stopped being a victim (at least most of the time) I learned a lot. Pity the cost was so high.
The times they aren't achangin' or not quickly enough and not without a long struggle for every small amount of progress. I wish I could say they were.
I'm much more angry now than I was 50+ years ago and maybe not quite as powerless. At least I found my voice and that's something.
Before someone blasts me for excluding men, I realize that men are victims of abuse as well. I speak as a woman and I can't put myself completely in a man's shoes, no matter how much sympathy I feel. I can speak only for myself.
Here's a quote that appears on almost every bit of email I send. Now you know one of the reasons it's there.
In the depths of winter,
I finally realized
that deep within me
there lay an Invincible summer
I'll probably be back later with my usual rundown of daily doings.