So, Zerlina of Feministing is now a contributor at Ebony magazine's website. Her first post was "Stop Telling Woman How Not to Get Raped: Our Victim Blaming Tactics Do Little to Prevent Sexual Assault":
No more ad campaigns and public service announcements targeted at women to teach them how to avoid rape. It’s not effective, it’s offensive, and it’s also a lie. Telling women that they can behave in a certain way to avoid rape creates a false sense of security and it isn’t the most effective way to lower the horrible statistics which show that 1 in 5 women will become victims of a completed or attempted rape in their lifetime. The numbers for African American women are even higher at nearly 1 in 4.
We need anti-rape campaigns that target young men and boys. Campaigns that teach them from a young age how to respect women, and ultimately themselves, and to never ever be rapists. In addition, we should implore our men and boys to call out their friends, relatives, and classmates for inappropriate behavior and create systems of accountability amongst them.
Think of this way: Drunk driving prevention has always targeted the potential perpetrator. They say how to tell if you're too drunk to drive, the importance of finding a designated driver, and what consequences you could face if you're arrested for drunk driving. (Even liquor ads tell you to "please drink responsibly".) Not one PSA is about how to avoid being hit by a drunk driver on the road, yet almost all rape prevention PSAs are about how to avoid getting raped.
For some baffling reason, this new approach to rape prevention has gotten some pushback. In the comment section of Zerlina's article, I've noticed that most of the criticism falls into 6 categories:
1) Of course men know that rape is wrong! Stop painting all men as rapists!
First of all, not all men know that rape is wrong because not all men know what rape is. As a matter of fact, "Estimates of the percentage of men who acknowledge committing rape and attempted rape have come from studies that ask questions about sexually violent behavior without labeling such behavior as 'rape' or 'assault.'" And until the government starts mandating that rapists where T-shirts with the words "I am A Rapist" on them, I'll exercise on the side of caution.
2) It isn't fair to make men responsible for other men's behavior.
Then, why is it fair to make women responsible for men's behavior?:
- "What were you wearing?"
- "Did you smile at him?"
- "Did you say no?"
- "What did you say to make him think you were interested?"
- "Why were you there?"
- "Were you unconscious?"
- "Are you sure you told him no?"
We're not asking for a man to come riding in a white steed. But if your of your pals is acting like a jerk and harassing someone, try to keep him in check. And while you're at it, check your own behavior.
3) What about the women who rape men? Why doesn't this prevention program include them?
There are organizations out there who provide support to men who have been victims of rape. It is unfortunate that more coverage isn't being given on this issue. However, 9 out 10 victims of rape are women. One shouldn't ignore the gendered aspect of this crime.
4) You're living in a fantasy world if you think women shouldn't learn to protect themselves. Anything could happen. Don't blame it all on men.
Remember when you were younger and you were told to always look both ways before crossing the street? What if you looked both ways, but still got hit by a car? Is the appropriate response "He shouldn't have crossed the street if he didn't want to get hit by that car" or "The driver shouldn't have hit that pedestrian with his car"?
5) There will always be murders, serial killers, and rapists. Talking to them and trying to teach them won't work.
Why bother getting out of bed each morning if we have to back in the evening? Why bother eating when we're going to be hungry again in a few hours? Why bother cleaning ourselves if we're just going to get dirty again? Why bother getting an education/enjoying your passions/living life if we're all just going to die?
6) What about the women who make false allegations or claim rape after already having sex?
Again, in D.C., the severity of a sex abuse charge depends entirely upon the
actions of the perpetrator, and not at all on the feelings of the victim. The
legal system does not care how traumatized the victim is, whether the victim has
changed her mind about how she feels about her sexual assault since it happened,
or whether the victim wants to press charges. Let's recap: According to the law,
the only things that matter are: (a) whether the perpetrator had reason to know
that the victim did not consent, (b) whether the perpetrator had reason to know
that the victim could not consent, and (c) whether the rapist used force. D.C.
law is only concerned with the severity of the rapist's actions—not whether the
victim "secretly liked it," "totally wanted it," or "only regretted it
Source. Local laws vary, of course. But that's not the point. If a man is so concerned about a woman pressing charges against him even after enthusiastically agreed to sex, then the only solution is....
wait for it....
DON'T FUCK HER.
Think about it: She might be real fun now but she could turn into a real bitch later. After all, you have been told by your parents, friends, and daytime television that you shouldn't talk to strange women in bars. She might lie about you and your intentions. What will your friends and family think? They might shun you and never look at the same way again. How will this affect your career and your home life? Your life may never be the same again.
It isn't fair, is it? It's also not fair that women have had to endure that kind of scrutiny when they report a rape. As Zerlina says in another post, "No one should go to prison based on a false rape claim, but no woman should be forced into a prison of silence based on theoretical speculation about the possibility of women making up rape stories for sport."
I really think that behind all of the criticism for men-targeted rape prevention programs is the idea that men are entitled to sex: "'No' means 'yes', 'maybe' means 'try harder'." Nice Guys® lament the fact that women won't sleep with them even after they done all that hard work like listening to their thoughts and ideas, helping them out, and being their friend. Men train to become pick-up artists to learn just the right words to say to a woman in order to convince her to have sex. The idea that men might be better of just saying no to sex is completely foreign.
So, if you're worried that she might accuse you of raping her after you've had sex: JUST DON'T FUCK HER.
If you're not sure whether "no" means "yes": JUST DON'T FUCK HER.
If you don't know if she's too drunk to consent: JUST DON'T FUCK HER.
Don't take this mean that I'm against sex. I am, however, against men who say that the reason it's so hard to navigate around rape laws is because of "angry, man-hating feminists", instead of examining their own complicity to rape culture. Instead of being angry that rape prevention is finally targetting more than one half of the population, wonder about how to stop rape from occuring in the first place.
Update @ 4:04 PM, CST: OMG! I just found this!