Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work

11 Oct

Here is this week’s View from Venus column from October 11th, by e-board member Abby Finkelman. It can also be found on the St. Rose Chronicle website, or in print all around campus.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work

  1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks
  2. When you see someone walking alone, leave them alone!
  3. If you stop to help someone with car problems, don’t 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–don’t 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 act like a caring friend 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 a sleeping person!
  10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “by accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it for you.
The above list, which can be found on Feminist Law Professors, may elicit a number of reactions. Amusement, anger, discomfort, defensiveness, understanding. The men reading this may find themselves confused. Let me explain. Women are given lists like this all the time. Parents, teachers, magazines, orientation sessions, there are endless lists telling us what we need to do to keep from being raped. This is fine, except for one thing:It is not our responsibility to keep from being raped. One of the most twisted outcomes of rape culture is telling women that it is our job to make sure we aren’t victimized–and, therefore, that if we are victimized, it’s our fault. This is absurd. I should be as free as any man to walk alone, to wear what I please, to get drunk at a party. The idea that it’s my responsibility to carry a whistle rather than someone else’s responsibility to not rape me is outlandish.

Worse, if I don’t carry the whistle, or I choose to get drunk, I get blamed for my rape. By my rapist, by society, by the authorities. I don’t have room here to detail all the women who are told by cops and judges that they shouldn’t have worn short skirts, but it happens daily. That’s rape culture. That’s a culture that blames a woman’s assault not on the man who assaulted her but on her clothes. You may have done it yourself. Said things like, “She shouldn’t have gone home with him if all she wanted to do was make out.” No, he should have accepted that when she said she didn’t want to do more than make out, he had to stop. Women fall prey to victim-blaming, even, heartbreakingly, blaming themselves; I have heard women make excuses and try to explain why it’s really their own fault that they were raped.

Victim-blaming is bad for everyone, turning women into self-loathing bad guys and letting men off the hook. Combating it should be one of the highest priorities of a culture that wants to be anti-rape. Until we can place the blame for rape where it belongs–with the rapist–we might as well write “ENABLER” across our chests. Well, maybe not the chest. Because if we draw attention to our chests, we’re just asking for it.


One Response to “Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work”


  1. Backlash, and sweeping it under the rug « Women's Initiative - October 28, 2011

    […] been reading The View from Venus for the past four weeks, you know that I wrote four columns about  rape culture this month. For the most part, the response to them has been positive. Except for […]

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