Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Placing Blame Where It Belongs

Rape is about power. It is about dominance. Rape isn't about sex. It isn't about love. Rape can be stopped. I know it seems like a crazy idea given the extreme frequency of this violence (both in the US and other countries--take Congo for example). But, really, it could be ended. The answer, however, is not in the victim. The answer isn't to buy every woman and girl pepper spray. The answer isn't to arm every woman and girl with self-defense techniques. The answer is in the perpetrator. While I'm not saying that women and girls shouldn't empower themselves. More power to them, me, you! But, we have to recognize where the change is possible. And, frankly, it is in men. It is in the perpetrators of rape.

Each year I teach about victim blaming. Each year there is a least one student who engages in victim blaming. They don't understand the problem with it. They don't think it's wrong. So, each year, I show THIS 9-minute video (seriously a great way to spend the next 9 minutes, promise). Sorry that I can't figure out how to embed the video itself on the post. Satire, right? But it works. Students get it. People get it. The video seems to help everyone understand what victim blaming truly is and how absurd it is that we, as a society, expect victims to be responsible for change. And, while some continue to engage in victim blaming attitudes, they can't help but agree that rape and other violations wouldn't happen if not for the actions of the perpetrator.

If you just don't have time to watch the video, I'll recap the tips provided to offenders (statistically men):

1. When you see a woman walking alone at night, do not rape 

2. As a general rule, do not have sex with someone who is not 
awake or aware of what is happening.

3. Always use the buddy system - if you think you cannot 
resist the urge to sexually assault someone, ask a friend to 
accompany you whenever you go out in public.

4. When buying or providing a drink for someone, be sure to 
deliver said beverage without putting any drugs in it.

5. If anyone happens to fall asleep on your couch, or even 
your bed, remember not to sexually assault them.

6. The best course of action when entering a woman's home is 
to wait for an invitation through the front door - resist the 
urge to crawl through a window or sneak through an unlocked 
back door.

7. Always carry a rape whistle - if you feel the urge to rape 
someone, blow the whistle so that your buddy from #3 can 
call for help.

8. If hired to perform a service in a woman's home, such as 
fixing the cable, be sure to provide the requested service, then 
exit the house without raping her.

9. If you find yourself stalking a woman in your car, 
immediately change course towards the nearest police station 
and notify them of your intent to commit sexual assault.

10. Watch for signs of miscommunication with friends - if 
someone asks you out, it is probably an indication that they 
think you will not rape them. Be sure to clearly state your 
intentions so that they know what to expect.

So, let's take the onus off of the victim. Off of the women who are expected to walk home in fear, hyper vigilant at every turn, and instead place it where it belongs!

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