news

10 'handy hints' to stop you getting raped.

by NINA FUNNELL

Please note that this post could trigger difficult memories for survivors of rape or sexual assault.

From the MM team: Often, when a woman is raped, the media and commentators find ways to blame the woman, to put the onus or the responsibility for what happened on HER.

The simple fact is that those people? Are d*ckheads.

Rape is an incredibly traumatic and horrifying experience and blaming the victim only serves to reinforce that trauma.

A number of years ago I was asked by a woman’s magazine to assist them with an article they were writing about sexual assault. They wanted me to give advice to other women on how to not get raped, and they suggested examples like ‘walk in well lit areas’, ‘don’t travel home alone’ etc.

The problem, I explained, is that we have been giving this sort of advice to women for decades and it hasn’t made them any safer. What it has succeeded in doing, however, is to make every rape victim who was walking home alone (or doing any of the other million things we are told not to do) to feel as though maybe she were to blame for the violence that was committed against her.

The other problem of course is that most sexual assaults are not committed by strangers anyway and this sort of ‘stranger danger’ advice actually deflects attention away from the far more likely threat: people already known to the victim.

So instead of telling women to modify their behavior in order to forward manage the poor behavior of a minority of men, isn’t it time we changed approach? Instead of offering more unrealistic, unhelpful advice directed at women we could:

1) Tell the 1 in 8 teen boys who think it is ‘OK’ to hold a girl down and force her to have sex if she has flirted, that rape is not OK. Not ever. There is no excuse.

ADVERTISEMENT

2) Stop victim blaming and start holding perpetrators to account.

3)  Situate discussions about rape within some historical context. Acknowledge that for centuries female oppression and gender violence were the norm, and that patriarchy has played- and continues to play-a key role in the maintenance of such violence.

4) Accept that rape has very little to do with lust, sexual attraction or the need for sexual release and EVERYTHING to do with access, entitlement, opportunity, power, control and a desire to oppress, humiliate and dehumanise.

5) Accept that the overwhelming majority of advice currently directed at women is not helpful because it (a) focuses on stranger-danger even though most assaults are committed by people known to victims and (b) such advice heaps the onus of responsibility onto women to prevent rape by micromanaging their own behavior.

6)  Accept that rape is one of the most under-reported crimes because victims continue to be blamed, shamed or simply not believed by authority figures and others. .

7) Rethink notions of shame and realise that rape shames the rapist, not the victim.

8) Revolutionise sex education and educate EVERYONE on what consent means and how to negotiate it.

9) Accept that while rape is a male problem (not a female problem) most men don’t rape and these men can become allies in developing positive solutions to end violence against women.

10)  Finally, we can accept the fact that violence against women will never cease so long as misogyny, gender inequality and sexism continue to exist.

Nina Funnell is a social commentator and freelance opinion writer. You can follow her on Twitter.

If this post brings up issues for you, contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence hotline on 1800 737 732 for 24/7 counselling. Alternatively you can visit their website for online help from a sexual assault counsellor.