Sunday, January 13, 2013

Talk to a Man...about Rape

Act #13:  Challenge the Status Quo

Dear Men:  What did you do this week to keep yourself from getting raped?  Take a moment.  Let it sink in.  Now it's, my turn. 

When I got up to walk the dog before the sun rose yesterday, I turned on the front porch light and kept my back towards my house so I had a clear view of any people or vehicles that might approach me unexpectedly.  When I was getting dressed I determined that my inner tank top was too low-cut so I threw a scarf on so I wouldn't attract any unnecessary attention.  When I got to my office - I was visiting a satellite office for the first time - I parked as close as I could, held my keys between my fingers (a tactic I learned in self-defense class in college), ready to jab any attacker between the eyes if necessary.  I then disarmed our alarm, to our private non-published office (I work for a Rape Crisis Center), let myself in, and locked the door behind me.  Later on when I was leaving the grocery store and a stranger asked my name flirtatiously, I firmly looked at him, told him I wasn't interested in sharing that information with him, and returned to my car, watching my back the entire time to make sure I wasn't being followed.  This is just over the course of one day.  During my single "going out" days, I made sure that my drink was never unaccompanied.  I never accepted drinks from strangers.  I never drank too much if I were depending on a male companion for a ride.  I never walked alone to my car.  My girlfriends and I had elaborate plans to support each other in night clubs and bars, to make sure we weren't drinking too much or leaving with anyone else.  My skirts were rarely too short, my cleavage rarely detectable - and when they were (give me a break, I was 21!), I always felt self-conscious, and a tad guilty for looking like the kind of girl who was "asking for it".  I learned to look men in the eye and walk with authority, like I wasn't intimidated - whenever I was subjected to whistling, cat calls, "baby, lookin' good today" comments.  When I was in the new phases of a relationship and found myself alone with a boyfriend, I always knew not to let things get too far, because men weren't "wired to control" those sorts of things.  In college I sat through a million different versions of "dating safety" classes every year (my male friends never had to sit through such classes).  I attended female self-defense classes.  Even today, I have emergency numbers programmed into my cell phone, "just in case".  This is in no way, shape, or form a statement about all men.  Trust me, some of the biggest supporters of the anti-violence movement are men.  Thank you.  And I want to be careful to point out that men are victims of rape and sexual assault as well, but statistically speaking, we simply can't deny that the majority of people who commit rapes and sexual assaults are men.  

Is this really the world that we are willing to settle for?  A world where we raise our girls to EXPECT the possibility of being raped at any given time?  A world where it is the norm for women to shape their entire daily routines around a personal safety plan?   A world where women learn to always view any man as a potential rapist, given the "right" set of circumstances?  I have a five-year old son.  It seems so much easier for me to simply teach him to respect human beings, and yes, that includes girls and women.  To teach him that it is never OK to violate anyone, to exploit his physical strength for his personal gain, to use violence to intimidate, to take away someone's power.   So as we spend all kinds of energy educating girls and women on how to keep sexual violence from happening to them, I challenge us to commit to doing the same to educate boys and men about their critical role in ending power-based sexual violence.  To learn more, visit,, or contact the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center at if you live in the central Kentucky area.

No comments:

Post a Comment