Some people aren’t gettin’ it

“Lists like this are stupid. You can’t tell rapists not to rape people; they’re not going to listen. Advice for potential victims is a no-brainer. They are the ones who can avoid assault.” [Paraphrased from the comments section of this link.]

Or possibly these lists aren’t for “rapists” but to illustrate that we shouldn’t be promoting an environment of victim responsibility. Rather we should be encouraging these discussions with everyone. We should talk to our boys the same way we do with girls, rather than focusing on helping girls avoid being victims of rape.

Rape is a real possibility in people’s lives and although it’s not totally impossible to rape a man, I think we can all agree that rape is perpetrated against women far more frequently. If we took more time to place responsibility on everyone, not just women, to avoid rape maybe it would make some kind of difference.

I would love to feel comfortable enough to go out into my backyard field after dark with my telescope by myself, but I would consider that foolish. Why? I am a woman alone in the dark. Women shouldn’t have to feel this way. I shouldn’t have to adjust my behaviour in this manner (restricting the ability to do the things I love to do) just to thwart rapists because, as a woman, I am at high risk to be assaulted if I am alone and it is after dark. I do, of course, because right now it’s the safest thing to do.

But I’d rather live in a world where I was confident that I would not be assaulted just because I’m a woman…and that the assault won’t result in severe injury or death. I know that if I were ever attacked, I would fight back and I see this going one of two ways for me: I get away with treatable injuries, or I can’t get away and I’m severely hurt or killed (possibly because he has a weapon). I would die trying, and that’s what keeps me home the most. That asshole would get a fistful of throat punching, eye gouging wrath…right before he maybe stabs me to death. How many men have to envision these scenarios before leaving the house after dark? – which in a Canadian winter, by the way, is a lot of the time.

This is not to say that all men are potential rapists or anything of the kind. Most men are wonderful, awesome people who would never even dream of doing anything so horrible to another person. But let’s have them share some of the responsibility that all women have. Let’s have those wonderful men continue to be wonderful by helping prevent these crimes. And let’s try to reduce the number of men who would do such a thing by placing responsibility right where it should be – squarely on their shoulders.

It’s also not to say that my fear is necessarily appropriate. But my paranoia is built upon years and years of advice for women that make me feel that I’m at high risk. It’s to the point now that if I was walking alone at night (which I would never do, but for the sake of this example) and a guy came up to me to offer to walk me home, I would be suspicious. That is just so awful. Here a probably completely innocent nice guy is offering to do me a favour so I’m safe, and I have to be suspicious of him.

I think lists like the one above are useful in illustrating the inappropriate responsibility that’s placed on “potential victims”. Why not focus on the rapists so I don’t have to be seen as a “potential victim” anymore? I don’t want that as part of my identity. I don’t want to have to fear men, who are mostly awesome people. That’s the point. It’s not a feminazi thing at all. It’s just satire to illustrate the somewhat backward priorities we have for personal safety. We have to do more than tell victims they’re victims, we have to tell perpetrators to frakking stop it already in whatever way necessary. This is a start in raising that awareness and finding a way to do that effectively.

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One response to “Some people aren’t gettin’ it

  1. Can you just see someone passing out this list on the street as if it were a Chick Tract? As satire it really does make the point on where our education emphasis should be. If it were meant seriously as a real attempt to convert rapists into healthy males it would be incredibly stupid.

    As a member of the male persuasion my heart goes out to you and all the women of the world who have to put up with this shit and the fear of it on a daily basis.

    Personally, the whole concept of rape baffles me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the world’s oldest crime. But to even contemplate it let alone commit it is beyond my comprehension. Why does utilizing one’s power to diminish another in such a painful and degrading way appeal to anybody?