Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who's to blame?

So you know how when you go to college and they do the safety/sexual assault talk, they're always basically talking to the girls? There are all of these tips that they give women to reduce the likelihood that they'll be assaulted or raped. They run the gamut from common sense to rather insulting, and some ideas are the kind that seem like innocuous safety givens but actually do set up the victims to be blamed for their assaults.

We're told not to walk alone at night, not to ever put our drinks down, not to drink too much in general, not to wear clothes that are too revealing, not to have a lot of [consensual] sex (because then people will think you're a slut who secretly wanted it), the list goes on and on. We hear some of these things so much that as advice it becomes second nature, and we never really stop to ask ourselves why we are responsible for preventing rape or assault against ourselves, when the whole point of something like rape or assault is that it is non-consensual -- if there was some kind of fail-safe method of blocking a victim from an attacker, EVERYONE would employ it. But there isn't.

So imagine my joy when I found this great list of "Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!" (reprinted from No Not You blog):

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are committing a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

Good stuff, right? If you made it this far, let me make it perfectly clear that I understand that in this day and age there isn't the right kind of attention focused on the actions of the actual attacker (rather than the extensive list of things the victim supposedly "did wrong" that left her vulnerable to attack) so I would never advise AGAINST basic safety tips. In my mind, I think everyone - men and women - could benefit from the buddy system at night, and I always guard my drinks carefully so that I don't run the risk of getting drugged. But I'll be damned before I re-evaluate an outfit or my alcohol intake specifically because of the concern that it will be my fault that some poor boy just won't be able to handle himself and he'll feel compelled to take advantage of me. That's bullshit.

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