Tag Archives: empower

Don’t Be a Victim: An Ode to Personal Responsibility

25 Jul

Let’s talk about a dicey subject.

Victim shaming.

Often considered an integral piece of rape culture,  victim shaming is generally known as any behavior, attitude, or stance that places blame on the victim for the incident or causes the victim to feel ashamed of his or her actions secondary to blaming the incident on the victim’s actions. As a part of rape culture, statements such as “she shouldn’t have been wearing that” or “she shouldn’t have drank that much” are common ways to propogate feelings of rape being a result of a woman’s actions, instead of that of a man’s (I’m using these particular pronouns because of the statistical frequency of rape to particular genders, however, I do very much acknowledge the presence of rape of men by men or by women – I’m not forgetting you fellas, I promise!).

It is important that we help to eliminate this brand of propogation of rape culture by teaching men and women what consent is and means and understanding that blaming anyone but the perpetrator is not okay.

I have, however, seen a lot of social media coverage of things that are basically telling anyone to throw caution to the wind. Run naked and drunk through that dark alley into that windowless van, young girl! Rape isn’t your fault!

Well, no. Rape isn’t your fault, and I do not want anyone thinking that I am suggesting that. I’m going to continue to use this scenario for explanatory purposes. If you do, in fact, run naked and drunk through a dark alley in a windowless van, this is not an excuse to rape you. It is not a reason to rape you. You should not be raped in this situation, or ever. (It is an excuse to provide you with a warm blanket, and probably call the police because a safe place for you to go is needed.) I am also not, in any way, attempting to make any person feel ashamed of whatever experiences they have been or will go through.

BUT…(yes, there is a but)…don’t be a victim.

A dark alley probably isn’t a great place to walk, regardless of your gender, how you are dressed, or your degree of sobriety. Getting into a strangers vehicle is not a great idea regardless of your gender, how you are dressed, or your degree of sobriety. Doing these things while drunk and naked is an even worse idea regardless of your gender or how you are dressed.

These things are unneccessary risks, especially in combination.

What it all comes down to is this:

The only person responsible for you…is you.

Please. Take personal responsibility for yourself. Be accountable for your actions. Be safe.

I recently saw a social media post about a girl who got hit by a car because she was playing Pokemon GO explaining that it was the game’s fault. There is no personal responsibility in that statement. It is terrible that she got hit by a car, and we would all hope that the driver in that situation was paying attention and had enough time to come to a complete stop without hitting the girl, but the fact of the matter is that this girl needs to understand that in the future, she should decrease the risk level she is taking by being more proactive in her own environment.

If you have done an acceptable degree of prevention, whatever the incident, and the incident still occurs, then at the very least you can say I did my part. It isn’t my fault. Because the last thing anyone wants to feel is that feeling of maybe I could have done this differently, or this, or that…The less someone has to face these feelings after a rape, the closer they are to healing.

We can tell everyone all the time from a young age until we are blue in the face that “no means no” or “lack of communiction is not consent” but just as it is with anything, variation in the human element means that rape will always happen. It is a lonely world out there, and I can only hope that there is someone out there that cares about you, but at the end of the day, we are all selfish human beings with our own needs to take care of.

That’s okay. We also try to be decent humans to each other and support each others interests.

But if you aren’t being responsible, there is no guarantee that someone else will be responsible. Empower yourself. Take the precautions needed when you need to take them. It’s okay.

What do you think of personal responsibility? What is something that you do to take charge when you’re feeling unsafe in your environment?

Don’t Get Raped

11 Apr

It seems like a simple enough phrase: “Don’t get raped.”

Really, though. It is quite the opposite.

Those 3 words conjure up feelings of spite toward rape culture, of dark alleys filled with men waiting for a girl to unknowingly walk through, of the act itself. The only time I’ve found myself saying this phrase to anyone, whether male or female, is when I’m being facetious. This comes from the same place that causes me to both be very aware of my surroundings, but also not fear them. My choice of advice when a friend is leaving is actually “don’t get murdered.”

Same amount of usefulness, but it suits my style a little better.

You see, saying don’t get raped isn’t very useful on the surface, and people get all up in arms about this phrase because we shouldn’t be advocating don’t get raped we should be advocating don’t rape. Saying don’t get raped somehow puts the blame on the victim of such a crime making it somehow his/her fault, which is obviously untrue.

Just like saying don’t get murdered saying don’t get raped is actually a much more loaded phrase than we think it is. It means “watch your surroundings”, “make good choices”, “don’t get into a windowless van with a stranger”. It embodies all of those things in just 3 words, because if it was as easy as teaching people to not rape, rape wouldn’t be a thing anyway. The kicker is that people who rape, or murder, or commit serial crimes have problems that extend beyond the simply telling them to not rape. They don’t care about consent because they crave the power that comes without it. I’d love if someone could post some statistics in the comments (that’s what you get when you blog with a poor internet connection), but I feel like rape and murder have to be statistically similar.

I also want to point out that because of the mentality that is commonly associated with rape and murder and such crimes, telling someone before they go out on the town “don’t rape anyone” automatically casts blame onto the recipient. They go from feeling like a normal person to feeling as though the person giving such advice truly feels that they are capable of such a crime. I know that “no means no” and if a friend of mine told me in all seriousness to not rape someone, I would be extremely offended. The phrase don’t rape assumes the worst in someone, and that isn’t okay either.

My advice is to use better word choice when teaching young people about consent, such as “no means no” and that coercion isn’t okay and that you are never entitled to someone else’s body, regardless of your relationship to them.  We should also gravitate toward using phrases such as “make good choices” because even if rape disappeared entirely, you can still have a lot of bad things happen to you from point A to point B. 

“Make good choices” is also an empowering phrase, that brings us out of this vicious cycle of rape culture. Because really, while I have a very unpopular opinion of rape and sexual assault, I’ve never met a single soul who really thinks that rape is caused by the victim.

Make good choices, folks.

Do you agree that “don’t get raped” is a much more loaded statement that just being about rape? Do you agree that “don’t rape” is assumptive and negative? How do you think we should teach kids about sex, consent, and relationships? Does “make good choices” perpetuate rape culture, too, and if so, how do we not perpetuate rape culture?