Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
2009-06-08 10:26 pm (UTC)
I went to a self defence class last year which was much more helpful. The instructor didn't tell us not to go or do anything, instead she taught us some moves which can inflict pain upon or get out of being held by them. (Good advise like "If they're holding you like this it's a good idea to try to punch their kidneys and kick their shins until they release their grip enough for you to escape".) I think the main point was to get us used to the idea of fighting someone enough that we'd be less likely to freeze up and more likely to at least try to fight back.
I think one of the stupid things about most of the 'safety advice' is that it is based upon the false premise that the threat is out there rather than in our homes. Women mostly get raped by men they know quite well. Your chaperone is more likely to rape you than the random men you pass on the street on the way home. The fear of wondering around alone at night makes women
safe because it keeps us from leaving situations which are starting to get dangerous. (I'm thinking about situations like a woman performing sexual acts she doesn't want to because she's scared that if she doesn't the man she went home with will chuck her out and she's scared to be alone in an unfamiliar part of town at 4am on a Friday night.)
I think it's a mistake to make a big distinction between rapists and everyone else. I know people who've committed sexual assault and they're not evil monsters. They're people who've done bad things, just like everyone else. Heck, if I think back to how strongly I came on to some girls when I was at high school I wince. It's part of the same continuum. We live in a rape culture, just think of how many romantic films feature a scene in which one character (usually the man) kisses another character (usually a woman) against her protests and she melts into enjoying it really. That's cultural baggage which can come up and bite in the heat of the moment when you
want to have sex and maybe you're a bit drunk and
want her to want to have sex with you. That doesn't make rape OK but is does point out that even 'nice guys' should actually come to terms with how much of a potential rapist they are. It doesn't mean that they're a horrible evil person; it just means everyone should really think through their role in preventing rape.
As far as what women can do to prevent rape. Believe rape survivors and make it clear that you don't think that rape or sexual assault are OK. I have a friend who was physically abused by her partner and one of the things that prevented her from getting help was the fear that no-one would believe her. She managed to avoid one assault because some friends were in the same building and she told him that if he hit her she'd scream and everyone would know what he'd done. Men should not rape women because it's bad but failing that at least not raping women because you're scared everyone will think that you're an evil douche bag is something.
In terms of preventing one's own rape, it's a controversial suggestion, but I've found in some situations being prepared to use violence helps. It's not going to help if the rapist is willing to use violence, but if he's just a flawed person who's convinced himself that 'no' means 'yes' and punch to the face or a knee to the groin can help to snap him out of that delusion.
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