Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Rape Prevention that Really Works
I'm sure that, by now, all of you have heard of the rape allegations and subsequent recanting at Hofstra University. I'm not directly commenting on that, on who I think is right or wrong or lying or telling the truth. As much as I wish I had the time to make this a post about gender politics and the immediacy of victim blaming in America, I have to teach in half an hour and I'm locked out of my building, so intense thinking about that will have to wait. For now, I'd like to direct your attention to this clever inversion of tips to avoid rape. It seems to me that, in traditional schools of thought regarding prevention of sexual assault, there is too much emphasis on prevention by the victim. Don't walk alone; use the buddy system. Don't drink from a container that doesn't have a top you can remove and replace when at a party or bar. Know where exits are at all times. While this advice is smart and helpful, it does seem to place the blame on the victim when an assault or a rape occurs. If you follow these lists and someone assaults you, you must be protecting yourself incorrectly. That's a dangerous road to go down. The list I linked to is clever and very necessary because it drives home the point that rapists rape people, and that we should construct our views on the subject thusly, rather than assuming, as traditional prevention advice does, that victims are raped by rapists. The active verb clearly assigns responsibility as it should be assigned, as well as shows how important words and language can be to political action.