Letters to the Editor: October 31, 2012
Re: “Rape Prevention Needed”
The awareness campaign criticized in “Rape prevention needed” was never intended to replace encouraging safety measures, but rather to defeat the notion that taking precautions is the best way to prevent rape.
Eight percent of reported rape cases are committed by strangers. I guarantee that if 100 percent of rapes were reported, that number would decrease—in fact, in the UK, 97 percent of callers to Rape
Crisis Lines previously knew their assailants. But if this statistic is unimportant, then consider these: 46 percent of rapes are reported to the police, 12 percent of reports lead to an arrest, Nine percent are prosecuted, Five percent lead to a felony conviction, Three percent of all rapists are sentenced to prison.
I didn’t pull that out of nowhere, that’s from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the U.S. National Center for Policy Analysis. Yes, the numbers are similar for other countries.
Yes, there will always be rapists no matter how much rape is tolerated, but that’s just it, rape is tolerated.
It is tolerated when Daniel Tosh disseminates a video of a teenage boy raping another teenage boy with a dildo and calls it a prank.
Or, when someone jokes that “when a chick’s passed out, it’s a bit of a grey area,” and when a classmate says he was “raped by that midterm.”
But it’s not only a problem perpetuated in casual settings. Rape, evidently, is tolerated in court when a judge rules that the victim couldn’t have been raped because her pants were too tight.
Also, when a defense lawyer earns his 25-year-old defendant a lesser sentence by citing the underage victim’s attire and sexual history or when a judge declares a rapist not guilty because “drunken consent is still consent.”
The problem is not that women are encouraged to take precautions, but that the definition of rape is blurred when a woman is drunk, unconscious, being intimate, dressed provocatively, reputedly promiscuous, your wife, alone, or otherwise relinquishing consent without explicitly saying she wants to have sex.
Before I finish, consider these statistics from “Margo Maine’s Body Wars”: Eight percent of college men have either attempted rape or successfully rape, 30 percent say they would rape if they thought they could get away with it, 58 percent say they would rape when the wording was changed to “force women to have sex,” 83.5 percent argue that “some women just look like they are asking to be raped.”
Say what you will about the eight percent, but the other figures will not decrease simply by telling women and girls to avoid rape.
That will only happen if men and boys are taught explicitly, rather than expected to know, that rape is never okay.
Re: “Rape Prevention Needed”
The WLU Centre for Women and Trans People* would like to respond to James Popkie’s “Rape prevention needed” article in last week’s issue.
Although Popkie’s article would suggest that our Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign and other efforts are futile, we strongly disagree.
Rapists are not always freaks hiding in the bushes or the “psychopaths” ready to attack.
By naming those who rape as “psychopaths” you are refusing to acknowledge that rapists are people you see everyday.
They are our partners, our friends, our classmates, the “NiceGuy”, our roommates.
Yes, stranger-based attacks do happen, but that guy hiding in the bushes waiting to attack will not be deterred if someone is wearing a skirt or not.
Also, that guy hiding in the bushes is someone’s friend, coworker or the guy that held the elevator for you; not a monster than emerges only to attack.
Women should not be forced to wear anti-rape condoms, “conservative” clothing or chastity belts because society refuses to have the conversation with boys and men about boundaries.
Contrary to what Popkie argued, rape is not relatable to burglarizing a home.
Burglary and wrong colour choices in gang territory are not systemic experiences that half of the population fears on a daily basis.
You do not fear that the guy behind you on the street is going to rob your home.
Robbery is not rape and it is disheartening to have to clarify that.
Historical precedent or prevalence is not grounds to base our attitudes of rape on, and the essentializing “boys will be boys” or “rapists will be rapists” mantras it calls to mind are archaic.
The argument that people will presumably “always rape” does not justify blaming the victim for what they were wearing or doing.
Unlike the tone of Popkie’s article, we refuse to accept rape as a fact of life, “human nature” or something that women have to live with.
If Popkie actually cared about the prevalence and severity of sexual assault he would be calling out the perpetrators, not the victims, regardless of “preventative measures.”
–The Centre for Women and Trans People
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