Pardon the soapbox…

Please pardon this break from my regularly scheduled programming of fabric, quilts, and adorableness, but I feel like I need to hop up on my soapbox for a minute. You see, I was at a dinner party Friday night and certain events there are just tattooed on my brain right now. I am astonished that what I am about to say still needs saying, but apparently it does:

Rape victims are never at fault for being blamed.


The end.

You see, at said dinner party the topic came up because of a recent spate of sexual assaults on the local campus. One of the party guests offered the analogy of, “If you leave your door unlocked or get on the subway and leave your purse open you kinda have to expect to be robbed.”

Seriously? Seriously, seriously?

Do we still accept the notion that men just can’t help it? Do we still accept that women can’t walk alone at night, or go to a party, or wear whatever the hell they want without being partly culpable if they are sexually assaulted? I thought we had left the “But she was wearing black” defense long in the past.

But apparently I was wrong.

But, oh it gets worse. This same person offered a second analogy. “Imagine your daughter at eighteen, and she is walking across campus in a bikini and…” Yep, the old “Wouldn’t you kinda have to blame your daughter if she were raped” trick. Oh, wait, that isn’t a trick. That is simply disgusting. I thought we learned that this sort of question is simply vile back in 1988…

At that point I just left the party. Even now I can’t stop thinking about this, about the fact that people still find it reasonable, let alone acceptable, to blame victims of sexual assault in any way whatsoever, about the fact that people in positions of authority hold this belief and allow it to affect public policy.

Furthermore, on an intellectual level, I am disturbed that anyone even claiming to be a reasonable human being would find that sort of analogy permissible, but then we did just see a young woman publicly called a slut and prostitute for wanting insurance coverage for contraception. Engaging in family planning does not make this woman, or my dear wife, a slut or a prostitute.

I know rhetoric gets heated in discussions of charged topics, but this level of incivility, this gross negligence of other people’s basic humanity may well be what allows people to dehumanize victims of sexual assault and assign blame to them rather than their assailant, to believe than any woman or man could be “asking for it.”

So… there is my soapbox. While there is much young women, and men, can do to help protect themselves from sexual assault, that notion is a far cry from in any way blaming them for being assaulted. And the thing about that little slide in logic is that it is easy to make. That is why we, and I do mean everybody, need to speak out against such arguments, to not just speak out against sexual assault, but to make abundantly clear that rape in any form is a reprehensible act. It is also a crime, just as stealing from someone is a crime no irrespective of whether a door was locked or a purse was closed.

Yesterday, a friend game me a photocopy of this image. I hope for a day when this becomes the universal understanding of and approach to rape prevention…

Now to go trim some Washi blocks and try to get my mind off of this…


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