sound and fury

by bezzle

I have come to the conclusion that the junior boys’ school shirt looks much better with the senior girls’ skirt than our actual shirts.

The awaited post under the cut, because I honestly cannot write it all out how I want it to be said.  Perhaps inspiration will strike me after I post this, and if bothered I’ll edit.

Contains things about rape and rape apology.

I had a previous draft but every time I write out half a post I can never get back into the swing of things so here is me scrapping everything, to hell with eloquency.

Some of you may remember a pre-exam maths class where Ben and I spent the entire period discussing rape and related things.  Unable to provide meaningful and well-structured arguments to his points, I attempted to blog about it.  It’s quite short for what was such a long wait (sorry again!) but I have a tendency to meander away in long posts.

Why is it sexist to demand, force, or even suggest, women to change their appearances or behaviour in order to avoid being raped?  If one is at risk of being harassed or harmed because of one characteristic that can be changed (with some degree of ease), such as dying their hair or wearing different items of clothing, why not change to lower that risk?  If society tells me that wearing revealing clothing when going out after dark is going to increase my chances of being raped, it is only reasonable to expect me to avoid doing so.  Given such a hypothetical, I grudgingly agreed; that yes, if it I were at an elevated risk of being raped because of my outer appearance, I would probably change it.

Is this the way I should act, though?  Why is a person who suggests I do so being sexist?  They aren’t forcing me to change, it’s merely a suggestion and not an aggressive or oppressive act.

Here is why:

Suggesting so displays and reinforces the notion that is the women’s initiative to prevent and avoid sexual assault.  This may seem an innocuous statement, but it reflects a much more dangerous mindset.  The responsibility of preventing rape should not lie with the potential victims.  Women should not have to worry about walking through the streets alone at night, carry around self defence weapons or feel pressured to change their clothing choices because of fear of rape.  We should not propagate such ideas, or tolerate such conditions; the focus should be on “don’t rape”, as opposed to “don’t get raped”.  The belief that women’s appearances affect their chances of being raped, whether there is factual basis for the idea or not, carries an implicit suggestion that victims who did not change are to blame for their rape (tempting the attacker, sending a non-verbal message of consent, a sign that they are up for sex with anyone, etc.) and in short provides a justification for rapists.  Whether this belief is communicated through a casual suggestion or forceful demand, it does not change the message.

I think that focussing on women’s appearances as a factor is part of the abstraction of rape as a bad thing, with rapists as evil, twisted outliers that do not represent the entire male population.  I am by no means suggesting that rape is not a bad thing, or that all men are rapists.  But by abstracting rape, distancing it from ourselves, as merely a horrible act committed by psychopaths on women who (consciously or not) tempted them with their appearance, without consideration for the sociocultural triggers and influences behind it means that we misunderstand the nature of rape.  We cannot oversimplify rapists as those who merely desire sex, and victims as those who encouraged or misled their attacker.

Credits to xionky for the abstraction idea