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rape
(The Frontier)

Sometimes in online journalism, there are good pieces about important topics that don’t get as many clicks as one might expect. Sometimes those pieces are inside-baseball on government machinations, and sometimes they are personal stories about an uncomfortable subject like HIV/AIDS.

Here at NonDoc, we have pondered what this means, especially when a story gets more “likes” and “hearts” on Facebook than actual eyeballs that read the piece. Our best guess is often that the topic at hand may have been stressful or painful for readers. Who, after all, really wants to start their Monday morning with 1,000 words and a graphic video on — say — police shootings?

Unfortunately for the faint of heart, an educated and aware society must routinely challenge itself to examine the rough edges of human reality. Despite all the reasons not to, we must read stories or consume footage of serious events. Otherwise, these pernicious problems plaguing our society live by night; exist in darkness; fester on the dead flesh of a disconnected citizenry.

Rape is one of those topics

As Americans, we recently have seen the effects of ignoring rape culture for decades, and we too often avoid the realities of the topic. Female (and male) rape survivors may not want to be triggered by such stories, and men of a certain sexual ego may prefer to avoid having their perceptions uncomfortably expanded.

Like many others, the topic of rape is more palatable through its portrayal in theater. But movies, television and even novels can only go so far in developing social understanding of a tough topic’s real ramifications.

That’s where journalism comes in.

To that end, I strongly encourage people to read at least one piece of The Frontier’s five-part series on rape in Oklahoma. Launched this past week, the series examines the difficult topic from multiple perspectives, telling personal stories, providing troubling statistics and (hopefully) making readers learn something they otherwise might unwittingly ignore.

Don’t let good work on an important topic pass you by out of discomfort.

The Frontier’s five-part series: Shadow Land

Part 1 — Shadow Land: How Rape Stays Hidden in Oklahoma

Part 2 — Rape Victims at the Capitol: When pain & politics collide

Part 3 — Not In My Backyard: A sexual assault victim fights back when her attacker moves next door

Part 4 — Rape on Campus: Too scared to tell

Part 5 — Soul survivors: Rape victims face uneasy path to new laws

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William W. Savage III holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for eCapitol.net before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.