How (Secular, Left Wing) Feminists Are Making Women Easier Rape Targets
I don’t think I would even be posting about this if not for the fact I keep seeing this topic re-surface occasionally on various blogs around the internet over the past few months, mostly on secular blogs, but also on blogs by emergent / liberal Christian feminist writers. It echoes things I heard back in my teen years in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The writers at secular feminist site “Jezebel” claim to be in support of women, which one would hope would entail them warning women how to avoid being raped – in particular since their site is very focused on reporting about “rape culture” and “rape apologetics.”
(And I do not know why every fifth post on their blog has the word “vagina” in the heading; what is the fascination?)
But, when a female writer on Slate, Yoffe, wrote an editorial ((Link): “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk It’s closely associated with sexual assault. And yet we’re reluctant to tell women to stop doing it.“) which offered practical tips on how women can possibly avoid being raped, the response was for writers at Jezebel (and one or two other sites I saw) to accuse her of victim-blaming, and to refer to her as a prude (I have more comments below both these links and excerpts):
(Link): How To Write About Rape Prevention Without Sounding Like An Asshole, by Erin Gloria Ryan (Jezebel)
Excerpts by Ryan:
- Unsurprisingly, this bit of e-prudery by the woman otherwise known as Dear Prudence [Yoffe] was poorly received because, you know, we’re all pretty tired of the “ladies be getting themselves raped” trope — and for good reason.
- Is there a way to discuss rape prevention and personal safety that both acknowledges the sad, rapey reality of the world without blaming the victims and, by extension, coming across like a scoldy asshole? Of course.
- …Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to understand that while alcohol plays a role in many sexual assaults, there’s only one element that plays a role in all sexual assaults: a rapist.
- … If alcohol plays a role in so many rapes, then ostensibly encouraging men to stop drinking excessively would prevent rapists — and therefore rapes— from happening. Right?
Quick observation on the above, last sentence: Wrong.
No, the issue is not entirely about male alcohol consumption, it’s females getting drunk, which makes it more difficult for them to fight off an attacker.
The male attacker could be totally sober, but if the woman is inebriated, she is more vulnerable.
(Link): Slate Forgot That the One Common Factor in Rapes Are Rapists, by Alexander Santos (The Atlantic)
Excerpts from The Atlantic:
- Yoffe failed to realize that there’s one thing that’s more common than alcohol when it comes to rapes. That would be rapists. While alcohol plays a part in a number of rapes, I can assure you that in every case (both male and female) of rape, there is at least one rapist. And, well, Yoffe’s column isn’t titled “Rapists, stop raping women.”
- …But women who are raped while they are drunk, always involve a rapist who is taking advantage of an intoxicated woman.
- So, is telling women to stop being so drunk really the best advice you can give people to prevent rape?
- It’s like telling people not to drive late at night because they might die at the hands of a drunk driver — these people aren’t breaking the law, yet they’re the ones being targeted and asked to compromise their lives. What about teaching men not to rape?
I see this as a common refrain on blogs by feminists: that people need to stop holding women accountable for being raped and instead focus only on telling men to stop raping women.
Obviously, women should not be blamed for being raped.
But to suggest that they are not playing any kind of role, in that they are incapable of making wiser choices, is untrue and foolish.
It’s not that I am opposed to teachers, parents, and others in culture telling men to refrain from raping women, and from instructing them that taking advantage of a woman who is passed out is unethical. Wanting to teach men that rape is wrong is fine.
However, this is not a mutually exclusive proposition.
One does not have to suggest that culture ONLY instructs men to not rape women and do nothing else.
- 1. just as easily be told to stop raping, while
- 2. women are also told, “here are steps you can take that might prevent rape, in case the male asshole does not listen to or pay heed to anti rape lectures.”
Both can be done. Both tactics can be employed. I have no idea why feminists are fighting against the second point.
It is incredibly naive to tell women that they can drop all defenses, drink like a fish at frat parties or at nightclubs, and think they will be protected from rape by male buddies or male bystanders, or even by female friends, at these social events.
I once read a book for women about codependency by a woman therapist, and the therapist posits that one reason women do become victimized (not just in being raped, but ending up in abusive relationships) is that they live in a land of fairy- tale make believe, where they do not see the world just as it is.
Many women, as the author explained, are afraid to see the world as it actually is: filled with evil, horrible people who will hurt you at the drop of a hat.
Many women want to believe the world is a safe, fair place, that if they play by the rules, no harm will come to them.
In this scenario I am discussing in this post, it appears that feminists want to believe that if people are just educated enough on how horrible rape is, they will stop raping.
It is a fact of life that some men are rapists. No amount of educating such men, or telling them it is wrong to rape women, is going to prevent all of them from doing precisely that.
Telling a man prone to rape women, who has little moral reservations from doing so, that rape is bad, is no more likely to deter him than advising all male pedophiles that adults having sexual relations with children under the age of ten is unethical will halt them from actually preying sexually on little boys. It might deter a few, who knows, but I doubt all.
We all would like to live in an ideal world where nobody ever gets mugged, raped, beaten, or murdered, but it is cold, hard reality that there are sickos and warped, selfish people out there who cannot be reasoned with, they cannot and will not, be deterred by appeals to compassion or logic, or lectures from feminists.
If I were a mother and had a five year old son, I would teach him about ‘stranger danger,’ and that even family members can molest him, and that nobody has the right to touch him.
If I had a small son, I would tell him not to go off with a stranger who offers him candy, or who approaches him at a park, or where ever, and who implores him to go with him by saying, “Can you help me find my lost puppy?”
If I had a small son, and he went off with a stranger and was molested, I would certainly not blame him for the attack.
However, I sure as hell would not neglect to teach him in the first place to be wise about his surroundings and that there are some twisted people in the world who like to fondle children. I would give him a few pointers on how best to avoid becoming one of them.
I see the same thing at play with telling women- especially teenagers and college aged women- about trying to avoid becoming raped.
If you are really concerned about women, you will tell them the reality of life: there are men who will rape you, especially if you are passed out drunk, so hey, be very careful about when and where you choose to drink.
Some men may be exposed to “rape is always wrong” teachings and yet still rape women.
It’s a very big dis-service to women to not have these conversations with them.
I would think it pretty obvious that raping another human being is wrong, no matter what, but maybe in this day and age of rampant moral relativity and society frowning on any sort of boundaries on sexual behavior, that men do need to be educated that yes, rape is wrong, even if the woman is drunk or passed out.
However, I feel it is naive, and very dangerous, for feminists to insist on only a one-sided approach to preventing rape.
When I was a teenager and college student, I would sometimes hear the same comments by feminists back then – that the blame for a rape belonged solely on the rapist, so that society should not be telling women to stop drinking, or stop walking home alone.
Back then, as now, I had to tune those feminists out for my own safety.
One reason I did not drink alcohol or attend bars when I was a college student was to lessen my chances of being raped.
For all the feminist talk I heard growing up of “the woman is never, ever to blame for being raped, even if she drinks” rhetoric, I knew if I got drunk at a party there was a chance it could happen. So I did not drink, ever (also because booze tastes hideous).
In an ideal world, I should not have to worry about drinking alcohol, or going out alone at night, but it is a reality there are men who will attack you if you are drunk around them, or if you are walking home alone at 2 AM.
As I was growing up, I saw many stories of girls and women who turned up in the news for having been raped while drunk, who went out alone to night clubs, or who naively accompanied some idiot college guy up to his room (and they always said, “I thought I could trust him, he seemed so nice!”), who got raped by these monsters.
I am not blaming those women for being raped, but I learned from what happened to them: “let’s see (I reasoned to myself as a teen and college kid), lots of these rapes seem to happen when the girl gets drunk, goes to frat parties, or accompanies a buddy to his dorm room alone or with one of his friends… mental note to self: don’t get drunk, don’t go back to a dorm room with a guy, avoid frat parties…”
I do not live in fairy tale land. I have to look out for myself and my safety, which means I have always taken common sense steps. This means I have to tune out, to some extent, some of the rumblings from other women, who self-identify as “feminist.”
I am not so enthralled with some ideology, with feminism or female rights, or some pie in the sky view of what society “should” be (i.e., that all men should know rape is wrong; I should in theory be able to walk buck naked down Metropolis street alone at 1 A.M. and not be raped, etc) that I put aside my self interests and common sense and ignore or deny reality to open myself up to being raped.
Men should absolutely be held fully responsible when they rape a woman.
In these rape stories we read about, yes, it is a male who is raping a woman, but what could the woman in question have done to make it more difficult for that rapist to rape her? I would personally like to know these kinds of things so that it won’t happen to me.
It’s not about “blaming the victim,” it’s learning from her experience for my safety.
What can women do to lessen their chances of becoming another target?
We should be able to answer those questions – and even to merely bring them up in the first place, to ask them – without being told we are victim-blaming, being rape apologists, supporting rape culture, or being prudes.
Men are not going to necessarily stop raping women just because they sat through a sensitivity lecture where a feminist told them that rape is bad. Some might be deterred or think twice about it, but not all of them.
I am not counting on rape awareness blog pages by feminists to keep me safe.
If a guy breaks into my bedroom in the night with the intent to rob and rape me, should I tell him,
- “Hold on a moment, buddy, let me just bring up this awesome anti rape page at
- Feminist Blog Inc.com; I’m sure reading its fine points about the evilness of rape and how men should be held accountable for rape will encourage you to think twice about assaulting me.”
I just really doubt that tactic is going to work in all situations, with all rapists, all the time.
I am amazed that the perfectly rational strategy of giving women a list of ideas, of say, for example, activities they could cease (eg, do not get drunk at frat parties), which may also decrease the likelihood of them getting raped, that feminists, who claim to be anti-rape, do not want anyone telling women about those very ideas.
If your friend never heard of aspirin but had a headache, wouldn’t you tell her about aspirin, or offer her one?
If studies showed that wearing a blue shirt makes a woman twice as likely to be raped, rather than saying, “lecture men that they have no right to rape women in blue,” why not educate women, “you might want to stop wearing blue, since it seems to attract rapists.”
Or, take both approaches: tell men to leave women in blue alone, and tell women the risks they are taking on if they choose to wear blue in public.
I really, really do understand the aversion to “blame the victim” tone one sometimes picks up in rape prevention articles, but really, it’s not like women are always totally helpless or out of control.
There may be some choices in life, or actions you as a female can take, to decrease being raped. And I don’t think it is sexist, victim-blame-y, or prudery to acknowledge that.
So once more, I am puzzled by secular feminists. They claim to care about women and rape victims, but they do not want women hearing views that may help them avoid becoming a target.
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May 2016: RELATED, Follow Up Post:
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