Rape prevention needed

(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta)

There has been a recent campaign about raising awareness on rape, which focuses on criticizing rape-prevention tips.

The campaign’s message claims that it is not the victim who needs to change their ways, but the rapist. Their subtext is that all rape prevention tips blame the rape victim and thus, should not be disseminated.

This movement tends to focus on the notion that the problem is with the tolerance of rape in society, and can be easily solved by educating people.

They seem to believe that rapists can be stopped if they are simply reached through education. While some could be stopped this way, the truth is, this approach will not work for everyone.

The obsession with re-education ignores that sort of Clockwork Orange- style brainwashing or Soviet-style totalitarianism; there is no way to “re-program” certain people.

Some people are just psychopaths. Some people will rape regardless of how much or little society tolerates it.

Rapists will never listen to any number of posters on university walls or infomercials on television. In many cases the only way to stop them is through force, whether by the law or a citizen standing up against them.

The idea that some people must be stopped through force is contrary to the ultra-liberal worldview in which education can solve all problems, but the truth remains, the only society in which “education” can actually change all minds is a totalitarian society.

Short of that, in some circumstances, force and legal punishment will be needed.

Even though the majority of sexual assaults are carried out by people familiar with the woman they abuse, assaults by strangers do happen. I’ve seen many reports of such assaults on the streets of student neighborhoods surrounding WLU over the past five years.

In some cities and neighborhoods, these sorts of assaults are even more common, and sometimes I feel like the people who dismiss assaults by strangers as a statistically irrelevant aberration have never had to live in a dangerous neighborhood.

If I wore the wrong coloured shirt in a gang neighborhood and got shot, would it be my fault? No, on a moral level, it would be the gang member’s fault, and they are the one who would deserve the punishment.

But, if someone advised me it wasn’t a good idea to wear this colour, would I argue that they’re blaming me and not the gang members?

Rather, I would thank them for giving me such advice.

Teaching precautions about avoiding rape isn’t about ‘who’s responsible’ in a moral sense, it’s about protecting yourself from harm.

Advising a woman on how to avoid rape isn’t alleviating the rapist of blame; just as advising homeowners on tips to burglar-proof their home isn’t alleviating the burglar of blame.

I understand there is a problem with rape victims being blamed as if they ‘had it coming,’ but that doesn’t negate the necessity for rape prevention measures.

This movement has a mindset where emotion trumps logic and proving an ideological point becomes more important than women’s safety.

If people want to combat the tolerance of rape, that is an admirable goal, but they shouldn’t do it at the expense of attacking and tarnishing safety precautions.

Furthermore, educational campaigns that target rape culture may possibly decrease rape rates but they won’t stop it altogether. The problem with using education as the sole approach is that it ignores human nature.

It ignores the reality that there has historically, always been murderers and thieves, just as there have been rapists.

It is unfortunate, but unless we are able to form a totalitarian society that can thoroughly monitor everyone or control human nature it will always be a part of society.

Of course we shouldn’t blame women as ‘having it coming,’ and there are still problems in society with the prevalence of rape culture.

But advising women to take precautions in order to avoid rape isn’t victim blaming; it’s just common sense.

5 Comments

  1. don’t rape anyone, that’s kind of the end of it.

  2. What precautions could we take that would avoid stranger-rape, exactly? How are they any different than tips for avoiding stranger assault? Why not call it “Safety Tips”and deliver it to all genders? What are these special “rape-only” safety techniques?

  3. Wow this guy is lame,,

  4. Agreed, Kathleen.

    Also, if we’re talking about the systemic prevention of assault-based conflict, I believe that it’s important to get down to the basic level of envisioning how safe neighbourhoods function holistically. This involves knowing the people in your neighbourhood (‘eyes on the street’ and shared knowledge of one another’s humanity mitigate risk and build localized trust), understanding what makes certain places higher-risk than others, and learning the social and environment cues to avoid, and how to respond to them.

    I think that our collective social IQ has fallen to incredibly low levels, whether evidenced by fear of black people, disdain for immigrants or the poor, objectification and sexualization of women or discomfort with homosexuality and/or gender fluidity. Even those of us who preach ‘one love, one race’ have inherited the burden of systemically oppressive frameworks, and we can only truly unlearn them through sustained contact with those from whom we differ. This, to me, is the only way to overcome the inherent limitation of avoidance-based solutions, of which jail represents the institutionalized and socially accepted norm.

    If we want to raise that IQ, we need to re-learn mindfulness, respect (for self and others) and the value of community-based social supports.

  5. WOW this is an incredibly uninformed article. Where to begin? How about with the very first paragraph.

    “The campaign’s message claims that it is not the victim who needs to change their ways, but the rapist. Their subtext is that all rape prevention tips blame the rape victim and thus, should not be disseminated.”

    What campaign are you talking about? Try to cite a single poster, pamphlet or article that says that rape prevention tips that focus on general safety (e.g. walking alone at night through dangerous neighborhoods) should be disseminated. You won’t be able to. The “rape prevention” tips that should be taken down are ones like: “don’t drink too much or you may get raped” (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/12/liquor-control-board-pulls-shocking-date-rape-ad/) or “don’t wear a skirt or you’ll get raped”.

    No one is arguing that general safety tips should be banned. So the rest of your argument is completely pointless and unfounded.

    But, aside, you got a couple other things wrong too.

    “the only society in which “education” can actually change all minds is a totalitarian society.
    Short of that, in some circumstances, force and legal punishment will be needed.”

    Totalitarian societies control and controlled behaviour through force and legal punishment, and the fear of such force and legal punishment (via an extensive network of informers and secret police). Go read some Hannah Arendt for Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, or just pick up a newspaper for North Korea. So this argument doesn’t make sense either.

    “The idea that some people must be stopped through force is contrary to the ultra-liberal worldview in which education can solve all problems”.

    What ultra-liberal world view? What are you talkiing about? Name a single leftist intellectual or political leader who believes that there should not be a domestic police force. You won’t be able to.

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