By Sarah Waters
“Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.” –RAINN, 2014
A lot of people don’t seem to understand the real dangers that modern feminism presents to women. Specifically “don’t teach women not to get raped, teach men not to rape!” Considering the fact that we teach men that rape is wrong from birth, this is astoundingly dangerous to women. Feminists not only spit on conventional advice (i.e. don’t accept open drinks, stay in groups, learn self-defense, don’t get blackout drunk, have a plan and a buddy, etc.), but vilify anyone who comes up with alternatives (anti-rape panties, color-changing cups and nail polish to detect roofies, jewelry that calls police when pressed, a firearm, etc.). To them, it’s all “victim-blaming.” They have no concept of personal responsibility. When you believe you are a victim because of what genitalia you were born with, everything is victim-blaming.
Now, of course nobody deserves to get raped. Rape is never the victim’s fault. However, there is a difference between blaming a victim after the fact, and trying to prevent rape before it happens. The former is disgusting, but the latter is crucial. Bad people exist. No matter how much men are taught not to rape, bad people exist. My own rapist is proof of this. The point is, you can preach against rape all you want. Rapists know rape is wrong. They do it anyway.
In a letter to the White House in 2014, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) stated:
In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses…. This has led to an inclination to focus on particular segments of the student population (e.g., athletes), particular aspects of campus culture (e.g., the Greek system), or traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., “masculinity”), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape. This trend has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions.
In short, not only does the idea of “rape culture” not help victims, but it allows rapists to blame society for their own actions. When a rapist can be perceived as a victim of a backwards society, rather than a violent criminal, there is a huge problem.
We don’t apply this “teach X not to Y” logic to murderers, because it’s absurd. We all know murder is wrong. That doesn’t stop murderers, so we know to be cautious and do things to protect ourselves from murderers. We lock our doors, we watch who we hang out with, we don’t trust everyone at face value. According to the FBI, the national murder rate decreased by 2.0% between 2008 and 2017. In contrast, the national rape rate increased 2.7% in the same period of time (rape here being defined as penis-in-vagina forcible intercourse, as the revised legal definition of rape only dates back to 2013). And before you credit the #MeToo movement for “facilitating increased reporting,” I took that into account. These numbers only reflect rapes that happened in each particular year, not past years, and the increase began long before #MeToo, but during the rise of third-wave feminist “teach men not to rape” nonsense in public discourse and media.
I look at these numbers, and I feel sick to my stomach. Rape was on the decline! Now it’s at its highest point in at least 20 years (though still nowhere near the false “1 in 4” statistic). What changed? Women have stopped listening to sound advice. Now we have Slut Walks and boycotts of Christmas music. Now, we have a Dora the Explorer “rapist, no raping!” approach to safety. And spoiler alert: Swiper sometimes beats Dora to the punch.
Ladies, please hear me out, woman-to-woman: Rape is not your fault, and it is important to take steps to keep yourself safe. These are not contradictory. We live in a world where bad things happen to good people. The fact of the matter is if you put yourself in a dangerous situation, you might get hurt. Just as you should have a designated driver in place when drinking, you should have a safety net if somebody comes up to you with bad intentions. You can dress how you want, sleep with who you want, wear as much makeup as your heart desires, but you can also be safe at the same time. I know that the majority of rapes are not committed by strangers, but we should support anything that a woman can do to protect herself. If we can stop even one rape, that is one woman who does not have to spend the rest of her life in fear and pain.
I have heard that this sort of advice “only helps the rapist rape someone else.” That is true. Rapists go after easy prey. The hard truth of the matter is, at the end of the day, the only one responsible for your own safety is you. You cannot throw all caution to the wind and expect others to protect you. If somebody rapes you, it is never your fault. However, you can still make an attempt to be safer. Rape is on the rise. Please, please, I’m begging you, try and act more safely.