Why Women Shouldn’t Take Precautions Against Rape

 

First published on The Fifth Column on 24/11/15.

If you’re a female in the UK- and if you identified as or were labelled as female when you were growing up- you’ll have been told something like this:

“Don’t go out at night, it’s dangerous.”

“Don’t go for a walk alone, you never know who is around.”

“Try to fit in your exercise earlier or you’re putting yourself at risk.”

Regardless of whether your parents and family friends explicitly mentioned sexual assault or not, chances are you received far more warnings about the risks of going out alone, staying out late, drinking and contact with the opposite sex than your male siblings, cousins and friends. It might not always be obvious, but the subtext is that all of these things, including flirting or wearing ‘provocative’ clothing, could potentially lead to sexual assault. Women are indoctrinated from childhood to fit their lives around a constant threat of male violence. Women are taught to accept that we can’t do what we want, go where we like, step outside our home on a whim. We have to plan our journeys so that we’re never alone for a second on a night out; or if we are, we have to strategise an alternative brighter, busier route. Even in daylight women are told to hike in ‘safe’ places. Freedom is not for us. Nor is the right to feel safe or enjoy the environment.

Parents and educators seem to spend far more time telling daughters not to get raped than telling sons not to rape. This is actually amazingly stupid, as the only person who can 100% prevent rape is the rapist. As a society we focus on the woman. If schools and families spent as much energy on boys, we might actually have less rape; some rapists honestly don’t understand that what they are doing is rape because nobody has ever effectively discussed consent with them. The MOD appears to have embraced this view with its first-ever military rape prevention campaign of posters aimed at perpetrators.

Men are also at risk of sexual assault and even more at risk of murder than women. But they don’t go through life scurrying from safe place to bright patch to busy spot. They can own the world. I’m not saying that men never worry about their safety; my male friends actually do. But they don’t let it overwhelm their lives and dictate their movements. And when a man is sexually assaulted or even murdered, he usually isn’t victim blamed. Nobody claims that a male murder victim was “asking for it” by wearing “aggressive clothing” or “violent tattoos”, or that he shouldn’t have been out alone at night because it’s “just asking for trouble.” Nobody pens articles on college-age men “taking risks” and how alcohol leads to men becoming victims. People don’t say “well, if he didn’t want to fight he shouldn’t have answered back.”

tellmeiasked4it

Image source: juvenilejusticeblog.web.unc.edu

That’s the thing, right there. Rape is impossible to prevent. You could live in fear for decades and then get assaulted by a friend, colleague, classmate or partner. Even a teacher, neighbour or family friend. Or you could get assaulted by a stranger no matter how carefully you plan; sexual attacks do occur when victims are in groups, in daylight, when youths are accompanied by parents, and even when there are many witnesses. And if you are sexually assaulted, nobody will appreciate the missed opportunities, the anxieties and time wasted over all the years you spent avoiding rape. You can be victim-blamed or even disbelieved by police, press, friends and family. You’ll be criticised for letting your classmate into your flat, for drinking, for “leading him on”, for what you were wearing, for not taking a cab, for staying out after your friend went home with a headache, for not screaming for help, for letting him walk you home. For being a female sexual assault victim.

So why bother? The question is: is it all worth it? Are all the years of self-repression and fear that you have to go through as the price of being female, while your brothers are free, worth avoiding a rape (assuming you even manage to succeed in avoiding it?) As long as you aren’t abducted and kept as a sex slave, sexual assaults are usually over fairly quickly. Avoiding it doesn’t seem like a fair exchange for decades of restraint. Of course sexual assaults can leave lasting adverse psychological effects- but not for everyone. And constant fear of violence is also bad for your mental health. Quite apart from the stress itself, it reinforces the idea that you are vulnerable and a second-class citizen; men can go where they fancy without thinking about it but you can’t.

I’m not criticising women, men, agender or intersex people who choose to take precautions or use rape-drug detecting nail polish or wear anti-rape underwear. These products have quite rightly been criticised for their potential to increase victim blaming, but if they make you feel safer, by all means buy them. I too take alternative routes if it’s dark and I’m alone. I’m also more aware of who else is around me at these times, especially if they’re male.

My point is that as a gender we’ve been brainwashed into accepting that male violence will always and forever impinge on our freedom in a way that as a nation we would never allow terrorism to. After news of ISIS’ plans to carry out terror attacks in the UK we were told to attend the threatened events and carry on as normal. By contrast police tend to warn women to stay away from an area where a rape has occurred and encourage them not to go out alone or late. Whether you agree with bombing the ‘Islamic State’ or not, today’s news has proved once again that politicians are not worried about provoking terrorists, but women are frequently given the message that they can avoid rape by not provoking a rapist. In fact the SlutWalks originated from just such a comment by a police officer.

Why should we be limited because of what men do? Surely they are the ones who should be punished with restricted movement. We may not be able to stop ourselves from taking the safe road home right away. But with the realisation that we’ve been taught to live in fear and organise our lives around men’s violence, we can slowly, surely, start to free ourselves.

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5 thoughts on “Why Women Shouldn’t Take Precautions Against Rape

  1. J.L.W January 2, 2016 at 11:30 pm Reply

    SC said: Why should we be limited because of what men do? Surely they are the ones who should be punished with restricted movement.

    Well, men being prevented from going places where women were raped is not enforceable. Over the whole country. Every single town country and city that has rape spots? Not even slightly enforceable. Unless you are putting forward the idea of an Orwellian controlled society, with perhaps checkpoints and armed guards on every other street?

    Terrorism, in comparison to rape, in a Westernised society like ours that does not have a great deal of fanatical muslims as say, Syria, is a tiny percentage of rapists so can be enforced.

    SC said: So why bother?

    If you mean why bother taking the precaution of not walking down certain parts of Northern England with half your body exposed. I would say the reason the person bothered was because it might have happened earlier had they not.

    There is also something missing about how male and female rape victims are treated differently. There has likely never been a case of a male that has cried rape when it didn’t happen. However, it is more common with women and there have been high profile cases recently. So there are basic differences in this instance.

  2. J.L.W January 3, 2016 at 3:36 pm Reply

    I see my comment didn’t go through then despite you writing articles since then.

    Censor and ban… The tools of the cowardly left.

    • Slutocrat February 6, 2016 at 10:09 pm Reply

      The reason it didn’t appear was that WordPress requires me to approve comments before they appear. This is the first time I’ve logged in and looked at comments since you commented. I have now approved both your comments, and will reply to your first when I have the time. Have a nice day.

  3. markpostgate February 8, 2016 at 9:22 pm Reply

    I understand what you’re saying but here are some counter-points.

    1) Not everything that gets labelled as victim-blaming is victim-blaming. In the case of an allegation it is actually gathering information to assess how likely it is that the allegation is truthful. If she was kissing him and they left together in a taxi it is not likely that she was raped because it will look to everyone as if they were heading off to consensual sex.

    2) You’re wrong that boys don’t get taught not to rape. Aside from the fact that it is a crime, sex education classes give boys a lot of advice on how to ensure consent that can leave them panic stricken that they are harrassers or rapists if they adopt certain behaviours. I spoke about this two years ago to my first girlfriend from 24 years ago and pointed out to her that by the standards set by these lectures I would be considered a rapist. Now naturally she didn’t agree because she had no complaints, so I put it to her like this – she had repeatedly rejected me and then months later I would try again to be rejected again and then one night I left her house with profuse apology because I wanted to hold her and knew I didn’t have “permission” and I wrote her a letter saying I thought we should stop seeing each other if it wasn’t going to progress beyond friendship because my desire for her was driving me crazy, and the following day she invited me to her room and she encouraged me to have sex with her. Did she realise, I asked her, that by the definitions I had been taught in school that was rape? Because by threatening to take my friendship away I had coerced her by emotional blackmail, and I had persisted despite being told “no”. Naturally she jeered at that and said “that’s ridiculous; just because a girl says ‘no’ doesn’t mean a guy has to give up trying.”

    Her daughter overheard this – her daughter now being the age we were then, and she’s been sucked into the feminist student community. Her jaw hit the flaw at this heresy!

    So not only are boys taught not to rape; they are often taught not to rape in a way that over-reaches.

    I’d ask you to check out this debate on sex education here; feel free to wind back if you want to see the whole thing – but I’ve cued this up to a speaker that mentions the phenomenon I’m talking about. https://youtu.be/2sAFS0MEw6U?t=49m42s

    3) My concern with women having no responsibility whatsoever for sexual assault does not have anything to do with short skirts – I don’t believe anyone has ever been raped for wearing a short skirt. It may be that they’ve been sexaully assaulted in some other sense – but I don’t think that that is something that motivates actual rapists. I also don’t think it as much a feature of “victim blaming” as the mythology contends. My issue is with the following:
    a) drunken sex where both parties are drunk isn’t rape. The suggestion that it is is taking from women the responsibility for their actions whilst drunk whilst not taking from men the responsibility for their actions, as if when a couple gets drunk together he becomes the parent and she the child. Noel Plum gives a reasoned response to this in response to Laci Green’s much less reasonable one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwarmRCAEhQ
    b) It certainly is a woman’s responsibility to clearly express that she does not want to proceed. I watched a female friend having the back of her thigh stroked by a male aquaintance. In fact I wound up telling him to back off, but it wasn’t his behaviour that unsettled me – it was her absence of behaviour. She acted like it wasn’t happening. I’ve never trusted her because she refuses to give anything away. She might as well be a manniquin for the absence of response she gives. If she had complained weeks later that he sexually assaulted her (I think she’d probably have reacted before he raped her. I hope!) I would be thinking that is not entirely his fault since you did nothing to inform him that his attentions were unwanted in the moment. I still don’t know whether I was right to intervene or whether I was interfering. Afterwards she claimed not to like him, but only because she got the impression that I disapproved of him. She’s not an honest person. So I think there is some responsibility to give feedback. Just as there is no clear delineation between bullying and banter unless the victim of the bullying makes it clear that he is upset by the experience – and believe you me, I used to be that bullying victim that learnt to shut off my reactions, but the net result was that friends engaging in banter would feel like bullying to me because I was not giving them fair feedback. And it’s not a bad thing to feel partial responsibility for your own victimhood, because it is by owning responsibility that one enables reflective practice and reflective practice enables you to grow. I think again, this is a case of over-reach. The good intention was to say to victims don’t be crippled by guilt and don’t blame yourself, but the upshot is a completely fatallistic attitude where one is completely helpless. A healthier outlook would be to forgive yourself for your mistakes, put them in perspective and don’t overestimate your responsibility – but don’t underestimate it either.
    c) Kicking the dog – if a dog bites somebody it is a bad dog and should be muzzled, but to say it’s never the responsibility of the person bitten by the dog is to give a licence to people who like to kick dogs. If I put my hand up your skirt purely because it made me feel powerful and humiliated you then I think there would not be any doubt in our minds that that was sexual assault. If on the other hand I put my hand up your skirt because we were getting intimate and I had good reason to think you’d llke it then we might say that was part of advanced flirting. And I think we’d make the same distinction if the genders were reversed and you were giving my balls a squeeze. Now whilst being victim of a sexual assault does not exonerate you from responsibility for raping your assailant, I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that the assailant is completely exonerated from responsibility, otherwise you are just saying it is okay to kick dogs. It’s rather like the “boys don’t hit girls” rule; by it’s one-sided nature gives the impression that girls can exhibit all sorts of violence towards a boy,but woe-bedtide him if he retaliates. If the provokation to a sexual assault is itself a violating form of sexual assault then her victimhood does not exonerate her from the assault she has laid upon him, and it may not be apparent what her intention is (and mens rea is a defining charactersitic of an assault) until her reaction to the reciprocation has occurred. I was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a gang of girls when I was at school involving groping, thigh stroking and sexually suggestive comments, and whilst I did not retaliate (because I was savvy enough to know that getting a reaction out of me was their primary aim, so I remained stoic), it is offensive to me that if I had they would be completely exonerated from their behaviour. To say “it is never your fault” which is an absolutist statement, seems to me to be the same as saying it is never your fault if a dog bites you and therefore by all means kick dogs. Mutual respect is realising that the way you act towards others has some impact on how they react towards you.

    The thing Is I followed your blog over the 1984 article which made it appear to me that you were rebellious against certain aspects of mainstream feminism, but there’s no rebellion in this article at all – it seems to be singing from the hymnsheet, and I find that disappointing.

  4. Kacey February 17, 2016 at 5:27 am Reply

    Where do you get this idea that men are not taught enough to not rape?! Seriously.

    Have you researched how men are affected by rape or sexual assaults? From what I’ve observed, they seem to be the victims who get dismissed. People assume that since they’re the men then it’s not really a forced situation, they should just enjoy the sexual experience.

    Also you didn’t address that men are just at risk of being falsely accused of stalking, rape or sexual assault. They’re also most likely to be killed or attacked.

    I hate the idea that women need to feel free to roam around without fear. Nobody not men nor women can walk around 100% danger free.

    It doesn’t mean I can’t walk around without feeling like someone’s going to attack me. I do have a sense of safety being in a first world country.

    Being safe is not about freedom, it’s common sense. Do we not live in the real world?! We always educate children about stranger danger and yet when we’re adults we’re in a society where it’s common to just randomly meet someone, get in a car with them and then often have casual sex with random strangers. these strangers could be a serial killer, thief or a psycho for all you know.

    women do need to take responsibility, for anyone to imply that a drunk woman can’t give consent, is ridiculous. If she drinks and drive, she’s responsible so why isn’t she reponsible when she consented to go home with a man, take off her clothes and have sex. If a woman voluntarily got drunk to the point that she can’t control herself, how is that responsible and safe behaviour?! You’ve put yourself in vulnerable position to be attacked if there is a possible person to take advantage. This is same situation for men, men walk around drunk alone at night, no one else around can get attacked too.

    Possible reasons why men why might be braver about walking around in dangerous situation eg late at night in the street is they are usually physically stronger so likely be able to fight off but that’s why probably why they get killed more often too

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