Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Very Simple Concepts Day: Don't Get Raped!

Welcome to Very Simple Concepts Day at the old jaw jaw: perhaps a recurring event! In this series, I retread well-covered ground, in the hopes that repeating observations that many have made before me will somehow help the forces of goodness reach critical mass and triumph over evil.

Today we will be discussing why my Facebook feed being filled up with people telling me not to get raped makes me want to pluck out my surgically-enhanced eyeballs and throw them at people who are idiots!

(That last comment is why I still get out of bed in the morning.)

You know what? Fuck this. I am too tired to explain rape culture, to explain that strangers jumping out of bushes are extremely far down the list of people you need to protect yourself from, especially when the entire feminist blogosphere has done such a good job of articulating this already.

Instead, I propose that every time someone reminds you that it is your job to avoid being raped, you come back with one of the following:
LADIES: don't risk spending any time alone with your boyfriend, as he is statistically more likely to rape you than anyone else is! 
FELLAS: don't risk getting drunk, as you are statistically more likely to rape someone while you're under the influence of alcohol!
I'm sure we can come up with hundreds of these.

For people who don't spend a significant portion of their free time thinking about rape culture (it is true, these people exist!), I do understand that sharing this sort of thing feels like a moral obligation - offering information about how women can protect themselves. Because the popular conception of rape is the Stranger Jumping Out Of The Bushes model, because the general public isn't aware that the rapist has a prior acquaintance with his victim in circa 80% of cases - and because of the Just World Hypothesis, whereby bad things don't happen to good people - we can convince ourselves that figuring out the rules will protect us from harm.

Even if they are in the minority, stranger rapes do occur; you could argue that sharing information like this, about a specific threat, is worth it if it saves even one person from being attacked.

But on a society-wide level, you have to balance the possible good of such warnings against the definite harm inflicted on women as a whole by being constantly lectured on keeping themselves safe, circumscribing their behaviour, tailoring their whole lives around avoiding sexual assault - all of which carries the unavoidable implication that, should you be raped, and if you failed to follow each and every one of these rules, you will be responsible for the crime committed against you.

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