When I was starting college 10 years ago, we were told during freshmen orientation that we should request a SNAP (Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol) van to escort us across campus at night to prevent someone from assaulting/raping us. I remember thinking that waiting for a van sounded like a total pain in the ass and I'd rather just walk or ride my bike home from class. I remember my mother nodding at me, wanting me to take advantage of this safety measure and know about the blue emergency lights throughout the campus. The SNAP van was just one of many “prevention” methods we were told about that put the onus on women to “protect” themselves against rape and assault. This safety information was being presented to us moments after being informed that most rapes and sexual assaults were committed by someone known to the victim. At 18 years old, I wondered, "Why aren’t we simply teaching men not to rape us, rather than burdening us with the task of keeping ourselves safe?"
Encouraging women to take self-defense classes and never walk home alone in order to prevent rape does nothing to prevent most rapes. It is relatively common knowledge that most rapes are committed by someone you know, someone who has “access” to you regardless of your ability to “self-defend,” regardless of how conscientious you are about never walking home unaccompanied or never accepting a drink from a stranger. I've never accepted a drink from a stranger, but one time I accepted one from a "friend" and it had a secret ingredient (can you guess what it was?).
The person whom you trust to walk you home at night is more likely to rape you than a stranger in the dark. "Arming” us with guns and the skills to physically “defend” ourselves from an attacker will not prevent us from being raped by our friends or partners. What are we supposed to do if our partners force themselves on us? Pull a gun out from our back pockets? Kick the person? Scream at the person? These “self-defense” measures are easier said than done…sure, you’d love to kick a “bad guy” in the face for trying to hurt you, but what about your partner whom you love? How realistic is it for us to expect women to fight violence with violence when this violence is being committed by a loved one?
We can effectively address rape by teaching people not to rape. It’s not faceless strangers in the dark or hardened criminals who are most likely to rape us - it’s the people we trust and should be able to trust.
Rather than relying on the old methods of training our daughters to “say no,” NOT walk alone at night, NOT go out drinking with men, NOT to trust anyone, why don’t we give women a reason to trust men and teach our sons about CONSENT?
I've seen this button on Facebook before and any time it is posted, there are a barrage of "what about teh menz?" and concern trolling. The fact that this button raises so much vitriol is all the more reason to keep passing it on!
The conversation surrounding rape prevention is starting to change. However, for the time being, your only useful safety tip is to point us in the direction of The Land of No Men. We need to let go of this idea that women can prevent themselves from being victimized. You can follow all the "rules" to a tee and still become a victim. So please, spare us the "safety tips!" We've heard them all a thousand times before. In fact, all of these safety tips are included in our How to Be a Woman manuals that are handed to us when our boobs start growing. Your assumption that we've forgotten the "don't go home with a stranger" rule and other such rules is frankly quite insulting...
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