Where the Responsibility Lies

This piece is in response to this fantastic entry written by Marianne over at xojane: http://www.xojane.com/issues/dear-prudence-lets-just-keep-blaming-women-for-their-rapes-i-guess

When I began my blogging journey, nearly two years ago, I remember reading tips about how to run a successful blog. Over the course of the past year, I have broken nearly all of the rules they gave–but I’m so okay with that. I’ve never been one to diverge from the path my own arrow wishes to fly.

“Don’t just write about yourself”…..my bad, guys! They say to have a theme, not to talk about too many different things. Well, oops. I started this blog as a discussion of my travels abroad, then it morphed into a personal blog about my life, updates to the world about my business, heartbreak over Sandy Hook and my anger at the world for our mistreatment of teachers, BOOM break up poetry, philosophical discussions about “love”. Next you’ll probably see me writing about some new recipe I tried out (I’m a piss poor cook) or fashion tips for the budget-conscious. Who knows.

Today, I want to talk about how f-ed up our world can be when we talk about women. The world has been rife with controversial cases about rape, about women’s rights, about the war on women. There are the people who deny such a war is occurring, the super conservatives who want to bar our access to healthcare for “our own good” while simultaneously turning a blind eye to this epidemic of rape and abuse we’ve been facing. It’s as though every day there is a new story. We hear about Rehtaeh Parsons, Daisy Coleman, the Steubenville rape case, the repeated gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas who later became pregnant and countless other shocking stories; all incidences that have wrecked lives and yet, somehow, nothing changes. There’s a disturbing theme in all the aforementioned cases…victim blaming. For Rehtaeh Parsons, Daisy Coleman and the victim in the Steubenville rape, the victims were blamed for their rapes because they consumed alcohol and were “asking for it” as such. In the case of the 11-year-old victim in Cleveland members of the community as well as the rapists blamed her rape on “looking older” and dressing promiscuously.

When we discuss the circumstances of rape a few things tend to come up: It was late. There was alcohol involved. She was wearing “going out” clothes. We view these things as the stereotypical elements of a typical rape so we educate people on how to protect themselves from being taken advantage of…be constantly aware, don’t accept drinks from strangers, don’t drink too much, dress modestly, don’t go out alone. Then, when a rape occurs outside these typical molds we call it an exception and not the rule. Why do we talk like this? Why should anyone have to take precautions to protect themselves from the violent crime of another? Why should we expect women to dress modestly when we should just be teaching other people to control themselves? To not roofie anyone. To treat other people with respect and care. To not attack another person violently and violate them against their will. Why are we educating the potential victims when we should be educating the potential perpetrators?

When did educating people about how to “not get raped” become more important than educating others about rape being a horrifying crime that we shouldn’t commit? Where is the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program for sexual assault? Why aren’t the children in this country being taught about this terrible crime? Why do we spend so much time talking about how people can protect themselves from rape and so little time talking about just NOT RAPING PEOPLE? I understand the necessity to act defensively, to protect oneself; but when the conversations turn from a rape victim being a victim into “you could have done more to prevent this”, that’s when I take an EXPLOSIVE issue with the culture we seem to be embracing. The responsibility lies on the rapist, let’s please stop with the “I won’t say she deserved to be raped but….”, there aren’t any but’s about it. Rape is rape and the last time I checked it’s a crime no matter what I’m wearing.

I want to leave you all with a quote referenced on xojane, stated originially by a reddit user, as something we should all ponder: “I’m not going to live in a metaphorical cage just because you belong in a real one.”

Why should we be asked to lock ourselves away just because other people should be locked up?

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