Thursday, September 6, 2012

Boiling it all down

I got into a very long discussion on Facebook with some friends (and their friends) today about rape and the idea that while it may not a woman's "fault" she shouldn't dress sexy or put herself in a bad situation (like being drunk at a frat party) because the world is just a bad place.

After much (much) discussion I think I have finally boiled down my problem with this attitude.

People act as if we should focus on avoiding bad situations because there is some sort of magical "more safe" state for women, and in our society there simply is not.

THAT is the problem.

I feel no safer taking out my garbage, getting off of a subway, jogging (with pepper-spray in an excellent neighborhood, in my case), walking to my car after work, or running out to a convenience store, than I do drunk in a mini-dress at a club. BECAUSE I'M NOT ACTUALLY ANY SAFER.

No safer than countless small children, grandmothers in their own beds, students staying after school for tutoring, people pulled over by police officers, late night stock workers, and sweaty joggers that were targeted despite their lack of sexy come-hither attitude.

Rape is not about sex, rape is about power and selfishness. Lack of power and concern for the other is what makes a situation sexy to a rapist, and our society's insistence in instilling the idea that a woman is somehow to be respected less when she is scantily dressed is part of the thing that makes it "ok" for them to do what they do.

After all, she's asking for it, isn't she?

If we focused less on teaching women that it's their fault for tempting the "tenuous self control" of rapists and more on the social attitudes which make it so easy to view women as women first and *people* second perhaps there would be less of a problem (also, more broadly, respect for other people as PEOPLE would be pretty awesome, what with all of the issues with racism, orientation, religious intolerance etc).