Kelly GunningFriday,15 March 2013

The Snap:

I’m a Facebook junkie. (It’s mortifying to admit, but it’s true.) And I get nearly all of my news from either Facebook or the Wall Street Journal. I use Facebook as a sort of barometer for gauging social trends, like I use the Journal for gauging business and global news trends.

Lately on Facebook I’ve noticed that there’s been a larger than normal rate of postings – mostly as memes – about how society needs to recognize that men are responsible for rape, and that the responsibility for stopping rape lies with men.

The Download:

I am greatly heartened to see the focus of dialog about rape shifting to discussion of the responsibility of perpetrators. It’s such a huge step forward on a very long path to affecting substantial change in how we view the act of rape and, more importantly, victims of it. In the US, the implied burden of responsibility for the rape is still placed squarely on the victim, with few exceptions.

However, while the vast majority of rapes are male perpetrators on female victims, women assault women and men assault men and, sometimes women assault men. It happens. It’s a part of our society the same as men assaulting women. Discussing the importance of shifting society’s emphasis on the responsibility for rape on to the perpetrators in male rape of female victims is a great start, but if contemporary feminism is working toward the eradication of rape in our society as a whole, we’ll need to ensure ALL victims are included in the dialog.

Additionally, I’ve also noticed that I’m seeing little, if any, comparable dialog emerging about the importance of individuals being aware of their own personal safety. In the real world, people who don’t want to be victimized have to take extra steps in what they do, where they go, how they go about their days in order to mitigate the risk of assault. The conversation about rape isn’t a complete or realistic one without addressing the practical issues that exist in daily life and how they factor into rape.

That has to change. The process of reducing, and ideally eradicating, rape from society will be a long and protracted one (and I strongly doubt I’ll see it done in my lifetime). While society works toward this goal, people as a whole – and feminists in particular – need to consider and discuss methods by which individuals can reduce their likelihood of being victimized.

It’s one thing to say ‘You have a right to walk alone down W 49th Street near the river at 3am without being assaulted.’ It’s another thing altogether to be naïve enough to believe that what’s right is what’s safe. By thinking only of what’s ‘right’, we as a society run the risk of creating more victims.

Hat Tips:
Image Credit: Flickr

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