I knew I’d forget something.
Sure, A Woman Shouldn’t Be Raped For Wearing a Short Skirt, But If I Leave My Door Unlocked, It’s Only Reasonable To Expect I Will Be Robbed
I hate hate hate really bad and smug analogies when it comes to rape. This kind of shit is the equivalent of, “I’m not a racist, but…” It’s “Women shouldn’t be raped, but…” You wouldn’t have to preface your shit with a disclaimer if what you were about to say didn’t indicate that you do, in fact, believe these very things. I was ranting about this to the bear the other night, and he said, “I’m not a racist, but I really like Coke.” Exactly, EXACTLY. You would never use the “I’m not an X, but…” format of speaking if you weren’t about to actually endorse X. “I don’t think women shouldn’t get raped for wearing short skirts, but goddamn did you see that SpongeBob movie? My kids loved it.” That entire disclaimer exists to absolve you of any responsibility for actually in fact believing this thing. “I’m not the kind of person that believes X, but I really think that X is true.” THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE SAYING GODDAMMIT
Okay, but it’s the analogy that bothers me the most.
Women shouldn’t be raped because they A) drink B) go out in public C) walk down dark alleys D) have sex E) wear clothing F) are pretty G) whatever, but if they do these things, they shouldn’t be surprised if they get raped.
The comparison for this isn’t, “I shouldn’t be surprised if I get robbed if I leave my door unlocked.”
The comparison is, “I shouldn’t be surprised if I get robbed if I carry a purse or a wallet, or spend money in public, or leave the house wearing anything but a burlap sack (thus indicating I have money to purchase clothing), or have a job, or talk about my job, or reveal my salary to friends, or have a bank account and go to the bank in public. I mean, let’s be reasonable, anybody could see me doing any of those things and intuit that I have money, and so naturally they’re going to try and take my money.”
That wouldn’t be unreasonable, would it? I mean, that’s what a robber would look for in a target. But we don’t consider people who leave the house with their purses and purchase goods in public stores to be really reckless and stupid and deserving of their eventual robbery, because jesus christ, that’s just normal stuff that every person in the world does.
But we do think it’s unreasonable for women to leave the house looking like women, and acting like women in public, and they are really reckless and stupid and deserving of their eventual rape, because jesus christ, they made the choice to do these obviously dangerous things.
It’s not unreasonable to believe that criminals with criminal goals will target individuals as victims that will yield them the highest rate of success and the lowest possibility of punishment. And criminals with criminal goals will make those determinations of success based on cultural indicators within the victim’s appearance and physical location.
But here’s the crucial difference.
A robber can look at a person who is leaving their job, driving a car, going to the bank, wearing a purse or carrying a wallet, and going to businesses and purchasing goods and reasonably assume that they have money, and if attacked in a successful way, the criminal can acquire that money.
A rapist who is looking to rape a woman can acquire what he wants from any woman. They all have what he needs to complete his crime. Having a short skirt or slutty personality doesn’t make her vagina any more or less existent on the physical plane. This is not at all comparable to somebody who may be robbed, whose appearance and behavior actually have something to do with the crime. Somebody driving a flashy car with expensive clothes and a wad of cash is more likely to be a worthwhile target for a robber than somebody bringing their groceries home on the bus. A criminal has more to gain by targeting somebody who exhibits more of the quality the criminal wants. People with money can make their possession of money more apparent. But outside of attempting to look like men, women cannot be more or less female in public.
All a rapist is looking for is a woman. Any woman can fit this bill. Maybe they have a particular type of woman they’d like to rape; this narrows the field to all women who match the type. But there is no corollary to the robber and his victim; all women have what a rapist wants. No woman has more or less vagina for a rapist to violate.
What some women do have is cultural approval to be raped.
A criminal wants to A) commit a crime and B) get away with it. When we’re talking about rape, any woman fits the bill for A. But only women that bystanders believe deserve to be raped fit the bill for B.
When somebody says, “I don’t think women should be raped for wearing short skirts, but what do they expect when they do go out like that?” what you are actually saying is that if a woman in a short skirt is raped, you will be less likely to hold her rapist culpable. Which makes a woman in a short skirt really appealing to a rapist. That’s something that you did. That’s not something the woman in the short skirt did, or something the rapist did. You made that woman a more comfortable target by making it clear that if she got raped, you would be less upset about it, less willing to see the rapist go to jail, less willing to support the woman. A woman is not increasing her risk of being raped by wearing a short skirt. You are increasing her risk of being raped by saying that women who get raped in short skirts should have expected that. Rapists hear you say that. By only raping the women that bystanders agree should be raped, a rapist reduces his chance of being caught and, if caught, punished. And that is why he will pick those women, over and over again, not because there is something more appealingly rapeable about them — they have what any woman has, as far as rape goes — but because he will be less likely to be held culpable for his actions.
“Women shouldn’t be raped for doing X, but really what do they expect if they do X,” really says, “Rape a woman for doing X and I am not going to be the one who calls the police.” And then a woman who does X gets raped and suddenly it’s, “She was raped for doing X!” instead of “She was raped because I made it clear I would not punish a rapist who only raped women who did X!”
Cause and effect people. Women don’t get raped because of things they do or do not do. They get raped because a rapist wanted to rape a woman, and made a very rational decision to rape a woman you don’t give a shit about so he wouldn’t go to jail. Women get raped because rapists decide to rape them, but rapists choose which women to rape because there are some women you believe deserve to get raped, and a rapist was listening carefully when you said that.