On the 5th of every month, bloggers from around the world are open to write about rights and issues concerning women. First started by Shine and Marie, we’re hoping to bring a variety of women’s issues to the forefront to make people aware of what’s going on. For the month of August, we’ve chosen to write about Physical and Mental Abuse. Please join us in telling us your stories, thoughts, and ideas on a monthly basis. To read previous installments, click here.
There’s been some fuss over comments made by Dallas Chief of Police David Brown on the increased rape rate in our fair city. Originally reported on the Dallas Observer Blog by Andrea Grimes, the story has now also been reported on Jezebel.
I suspect some of you will think that any outrage over this is a drastic overreaction, and to you I say, “UGH.”
Andrea Grimes (I can’t tell you if she’s an actual reporter or just a blogger, I don’t know) was covering the meeting and wrote up her notes for Unfair Park, the Dallas Observer Blog. You can find her original post here. No one in Dallas seemed concerned at all, so the story didn’t make the local news.
Basically when asked about the sharp increase in rape, while all the other crimes had decreased, Police Chief Brown, according to Grimes, said:
“We’re needing to create a message to the victims of this type of crime, related to, you know, someone you don’t know that well, you having a little bit too much to drink,” explains Chief Brown, suggesting women, “have your friends watch you” if you intend to drink in front of a man.
Ms. Grimes made a fairly snarky comment about the casual victim-blaming rhetoric set forth by Brown and moved on. And then…all hell broke loose. People were making pretty ignorant and sometimes nasty comments on her blog post. Which, I mean, I’m all for a difference of opinion, but the woman was just stating her opinion in the first place.
More than that, while some people may think that it’s just semantics and what the Police Chief said was harmless…it’s just not. The follow-up article showed Chief Brown’s reaction to Ms. Grimes’s comments, and I have to say, I was even more disappointed in him then. He called her an irresponsible blogger and said that he didn’t suggest that women were to blame for rapes, just that they should be aware of their surroundings and travel in pairs or groups. OF COURSE. Because that doesn’t, in any way, suggest that it’s women and not the men who rape them who can prevent rapes.
Before you get all riled up and tell me that I’m stupid and ridiculous, let me say this: I’m not in disagreement with the idea that women should be aware of their surroundings and that drinking can lead to bad decisions and that it’s safer to travel with someone than it is to travel alone. Here’s the difference, though: This is true for EVERYONE. Not just women. And the idea that rapes happen because women aren’t paying enough attention or they’ve been drinking or that outfit was too sexy or they were walking in an alley alone? Is just fucking ignorant.
Yes, I agree that it’s okay to tell women to be careful. We should ALL be careful. But I’m here to tell you? We’ve been told to be careful. We’ve been told to watch how much WE drink (men never get told this, as far as I can tell, unless it’s in relation to drinking and driving). We’ve been told to never ever walk around alone. And guess what? We’re still getting raped.
You know why? Because men are still raping women. Plain and simple. And we can just stop acting like “date rape” is some lesser form of rape. It’s not. Rape is rape. Whether you’re on a date, on a plane, in an alley, swimming in the ocean, or playing the piano.
And while it’s true that alcohol is often a factor in rape cases, it’s usually the MAN’S drinking and not the woman’s that causes the issue. But no one ever says to men, “Hey, maybe you should watch how much you drink around women.” And that? That’s why Chief Brown’s comments were so disturbing to me. Because his first reaction was to tell women what they should do. He didn’t even say anything about educating men. Only women need education.
Many of the comments on the follow-up blog disgust me so much, I can’t even tell you. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to compare rape to burglary. Someone stealing my car radio isn’t the fucking same as someone violating my body and the fact that people so easily make this analogy is a blatant example of how little autonomy women are given.
More to the point, there are so many men who don’t understand what rape is. Or rather, who don’t understand what consent is. And women? We need to work on this, too.
I don’t think that Ms. Grimes was trying to say that there’s nothing women can do to make themselves safer. I think what she was trying to say is that it’s time to stop putting all the onus on women for preventing rape. The only thing different from a night where a woman goes out alone, wearing “revealing” clothing, gets incredibly drunk, and gets home safely and one where she does the same things and gets raped is the presence of a rapist.
And just by the way, my favorite comment possibly of all time, is this one:
InfamousQBert comment: second, how hard is it for people to understand that what “causes rape” is the presence of a rapist?? it’s just infuriating to see so many of you putting the onus on women to stop doing things to get themselves raped instead of focusing on the men who are told jokes like “don’t. stop.” means “don’t stop” and other seemingly minor, but really insidious lessons? we’re told that women never want sex, so you have to push and chase, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to get a girl drunk so she’ll want to have sex (did anyone even see superbad? or american pie?). boys, girls, women and men are fed these lessons starting at a VERY young age. maybe we should think about teaching boys and men to always ask first and get an ENTHUSIASTIC yes before doing ANYTHING sexual. and we should teach women that it’s fully okay to say yes OR no and MEAN it, rather than teaching them to prevaricate and be coy.
maybe men shouldn’t be drunk around women if they can’t stop themselves from RAPING someone? maybe men need to go out in pairs so that one of them can stop the other from RAPING someone? maybe men shouldn’t wear clothes that are so easy to get their penis out of just in case they might forget NOT TO RAPE someone?
When you look at that last part, how ridiculous does it sound to you? And yet, this is what we tell women all the time and they’re not even doing the raping. And while I’m sure that not all men are “wired to rape” or whatever, a little education about consent and respecting women could go a long way. It’s not going to hurt those men who were never going rape someone anyway, but if more little boys were growing up understanding that consent should be enthusiastic and that women are people, not sexual objects to be chased and pressured and hounded and conquered, I think the world would be just a little bit better.
And even feminists understand that women have responsibility. We need to be practicing enthusiastic consent. We need to mean “no” when we say it and mean “yes” when we say it. We need to learn that it’s perfectly acceptable to like and want sex. It’s going to be a long journey, and it’s going to be hard for us to get anywhere without members of both sexes on board.
The system is probably never going to be perfect. There are going to be women who lie and men who lie, but that doesn’t mean that we should just pretend that there’s nothing we can do. There’s so much more I could say, but this is probably enough for now.
UPDATE: I should add one thing. A reminder. Rape isn’t about sex. Rape isn’t about a man who is so overcome with sexual desire, he simply must stick his dick in the woman wearing the short skirt. Rape is about power and control. Rape is about physically taking from someone that which they do not wish to give. IT IS NOT ABOUT SEX OR BEING HORNY. Ever. It’s about someone feeling entitled to someone else’s body.