Culturally we have a huge problem. There is a notion that we can best “prevent rape” (and sexual assault) by concerting most of our efforts on education of women – be aware, walk to your car escorted, even take a self-defense class. While I applaud these efforts I agree with the observation that some sociologists** have made – culture is not going to change until at least as much effort, if not more, is spent on the population statistically doing the assaulting and raping rather than the population statistically on the receiving end.
We need to be teaching “don’t do this” as well as “do not let this get done to you.”
All too often victims of sexual assault have their experiences discounted as though they were asking for it entirely or in part. If only her skirt had been a bit longer, this may not have happened. Well, what did she think was going to happen in that part of town, anyway? What was she doing out at that time of night alone? This is the land of the free, then – as long as if you are a woman you understand that if you are the victim of a crime you had better exercise your freedom to dress any way you choose, go anywhere you choose and at any time that you choose in such a way that those who may judge your decisions (that’s right – your decisions) later may not deem them morally questionable. For a recent and reprehensible example read about the unbelievably insensitive words of AZ trial Judge Jacqueline Hatch to a defendant seen before her
. That this judge said what she did and then had the audacity to say she was not blaming the victim to me says she has bought into the notion that prevention is in the hands of victims, not offenders. That this attitude is seen isn’t actually rare – it’s everywhere. That it is now being heard from a woman presiding over a courtroom is raising a few eyebrows, as it should be. I hope that she herself faces some consequences from this truly out-of-bounds commentary on her part. More than that I hope people begin to pay attention to how pervasive and common this message truly is – look for it and you’ll actually find it everywhere.
**See the work of Jackson Katz for a stellar, readable example.