This is addressed to my fellow women out there. I’ve covered much of the flaws of feminist thinking, especially along #MeToo lines in sexual assault prevention, which is basically zero. I’ve also covered in several articles my argument for more personal accountability to lessen one’s risks of assault as well as holding the perpetrator accountable too. Look, I know this topic isn’t all that pleasant, and very serious, but it must be addressed head on. I agree with the Left that misconceptions are a roadblock to empowering women to fight back against sexual assault, but I argue that it is in fact their side, that is fostering dangerous misconceptions about sexual assault.
Their basic premise is that too often, we shift the blame on the victim rather than the perpetrator and even go so far as to say we created a “rape culture” where rape is not only tolerated, but thought of as a man’s “right”. They say that the only thing that causes rape is the rapist, and nothing else. Therefore, one cannot talk about how alcohol or drugs play a role. Nor other poor risky choices such as becoming isolated or suggestive behavior/dress. Now, I will say that they are correct that one does indeed, need a rapist, to commit rape. Alcohol, sexy clothes, drugs, partying, does not literally cause a rape to happen, just as gun violence can only happen if someone pulls the trigger. However, the above factors do indeed create an increased risk of victimization, and are correlated with incidents of sexual assault.
Rapists are going to rape no matter what, because if you are at the point where you feel entitled to rape someone, you don’t care one bit about how it will impact your victim. You may not even care what they are wearing either, as many argue rape is more about power than sexuality. However, barring any empathy for your victim, you still have to choose one! So, which girl, if you would put yourself in the mindset of a callous rapist, but doesn’t want to get caught, would you choose? The girl who’s sober, more modestly dressed surrounded by 5 other girlfriends, (a.k.a. witnesses) at the party, or the one who’s almost blackout drunk, isolated, and in suggestive clothing that can be used as an excuse later in court in your favor? Who do you think would be noticed more if missing? Who do you think would put up less of a fight?
Now, does either girl deserve to get raped? Absolutely not! No one ever “deserves” rape, and nothing ever “justifies” rape. However, the cold, hard ugly truth of the matter is, one girl is more at risk than the other to be chosen as the next victim. Rapists will indeed rape no matter what whenever they find the chance, but it’s on us, ladies, to make sure he has the least amount of chances possible to target us. Causation for increasing your risk is not justification for the crime! Is it fair that we must go out of our way to look out for creeps? NO! But that’s reality. We shouldn’t need to watch out for each other at parties, or a girls’ night out. We shouldn’t have to worry about trusting the guy to take us home safely. Or buy us that drink and worry if he drugged it. We should be able to dress as sexy as we want without any unwanted advances. However, what we should be able to do and what we are able to do without putting ourselves more at risk aren’t identical.
And yes, sometimes, rape will happen when we do everything right to lessen our chances. Rapists will rape, we get it… But isn’t that true for any crime? A burglar can still smash in your window even when you lock your door every night, but does that mean you shouldn’t bother to lock your doors? We talk about more emphasis on teaching boys not to rape and assault women, instead of teaching girls how to empower themselves and lessen their risks in the logic that the solution is solely on telling men not to rape.
However, look at it this way: We teach our children not to steal, yet there are still thieves. Should the solution for burglary be simply to teach people to not steal and call any attempt at advising people to lock their doors or hide their valuables victim blaming? After all, no one has the right to steal your stuff no matter where you leave it! Similarly, there are still rapists despite teaching boys not to rape. The crime is not going away in both cases sadly. So what are we to do? Just sit around on our hands and complain about the obvious injustice, or do something to protect ourselves from becoming a victim, even if it means making inconvenient and yes, unfair, lifestyle adjustments?
Ladies, we need to live in the world as it is, not live in the world that we want it to be. Even if that world demands a “sexist” or un-PC answer to lessening our risk. We ARE judged by how we dress, whether we like it or not. Wearing sexy, provocative clothing, while never justifying any unwanted advances, sends off the signal that you want a consensual interaction and if the wrong guy who’s a complete callous jerk feels you “led him on”, yes, some will cross that line into assault. It’s ugly and unfair, wildly unfair and unjust, but ladies, this is the reality we live in. It’s not about simple morality, or saying that the girl in the sexy dress is morally “lesser” or “bad” and deserves assault, but it is about the fact that as unfair as it is, you ARE judged by how you choose to present yourself, and a real rapist can use it as an excuse in his sick twisted mind to justify harming you.
Drinking until you’re black out drunk, going off alone with a strange guy at the party, taking a drink that could be roofied easily etc… increases your chances of victimization and puts you in a vulnerable position. No, alcohol doesn’t cause rape to happen, but it does increase your risk the rapist will target you because you can’t physically resist or even say “no”. Going off alone with no witnesses and no one to step in to protect you is the perfect way to be victimized. Is this fair? Is it fair that women need to be careful instead of just being carefree when out for the night? Of course not! But as said before, this is the cold hard reality of the world we live in.
Saying all this is bound to draw the ire of many screaming “victim blaming!”, but this is no more victim blaming than suggesting one lock their doors or hide valuables to lessen chances of a burglary. Rapes can happen even after every base is covered. But so can burglaries. So can any crime. NO set of precautions has a 100% guarantee or covers every situation. That however, doesn’t mean we don’t take those precautions. Yes, the rapist could be someone you know and trust. Yes it can happen elsewhere than parties. Yes, more subtle coercion could be involved. Yes, I know all those things! That however does not belittle the merits of precautions against rapes that do happen with strangers, or in parties for instance. You may not be able to avoid one scenario, but does that mean “Why bother learning how to avoid the other”? Sure, the burglar can just smash in my window, but he sure won’t come through my door if I can help it! 😉
Ladies, it’s also not black and white. I’m not saying you can never party, you can never go out, you can never wear that “cute little number” to the club on girls’ night, you can never have a drink or hang out with a guy. We don’t have to dress like nuns and never leave our homes! All I’m proposing is to be aware. Awareness is half the battle, and with a good dose of awareness and common sense, you can have that night out of fun and be as safe as you can. Empowerment is liberating, not constraining. The awareness to know what the risk factors are, and how to avoid them is liberating, as you can live your life, just be aware and vigilant. When we drive, we learn the rules of the road. When we choose where to live, we look into crime rates. We have fire drills. We have emergency drills. We look over our shoulder in that sketchy area. We hide our valuables. We do all these things AND live a normal life full of excitement and fun. Can we do everything we want, (drink to excess, dress like we’re turning tricks, go off with every guy in the bar etc… etc..)? No. But in moderation, and with awareness of the risks, we can weigh our chances and act accordingly.