A Novel Approach to Rape Prevention

Many Indian men have responded to last month’s gruesome rape by arguing that Indian women must be careful what they wear or where they go if they want to avoid being raped. Don’t wear “slutty” clothes, don’t stay out late or go to this or that area of town, that sort of thing. Well, here’s a piece of satire that responds by asking what it would look like if we responded to sexual assault by limiting men’s freedom rather than by limiting women’s freedom:

Calls for Men to Be Blindfolded in Public

In response to claims that men are unable to restrain themselves from committing rape if they see women in skimpy clothing, members of law enforcement agencies around the country have called for men to blindfold themselves when they are in places where they might encounter a female wearing a tank top or a short skirt.

“For years, we have been told that men don’t understand how to respond to the sight of a woman wearing, say, gym clothes – that as far as they are concerned, if they can see the outline of her body, then that’s an invitation to sex that they are simply unable to refuse,” said one police chief. “If that’s true, then we have no choice. We want women to be safe, and there is apparently no way for some men to reasonably restrain their own behavior once they catch a glimpse of cleavage, so all men will have to cover their eyes while working out, going to bars or clubs, or relaxing at the beach.”

Popular radio “shock jocks” Skeezer and the Gooch have gone even further, arguing that men should be blindfolded at all times while in public, on the grounds that “it’s not just skimpy outfits, some dudes get turned on by random stuff like women wearing athletic jerseys and sneakers,” making situation-specific blindfolding insufficient to preserve women’s safety.

Unwise to Allow Men to Go Out Alone at Night?

A local coalition of religious leaders, concerned about recent studies showing that an average of 6% of men will commit a sexual assault during their lifetime, and that nearly all sexual assaults are committed by men on their own or in groups, are urging parents not to let their sons go out at night unless they are accompanied by a mother, sister, or trusted female friend.

Mens’ groups have responded with concern, pointing out that this may leave some men unable to complete the tasks of daily life, such as going to school, working, or socializing.

In response, the religious leaders said that they “understand that this may be an inconvenience for some men,” but that “the minor difficulties this imposes on men are nothing when compared to the lifelong horror sexual assaults cause their victims.” “Really,” said the organization’s leader, “almost any limitation on men’s freedom is better than the risk that they might sexually assault someone. That’s just common sense.”

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Growing up in a conservative evangelical home, I was taught that men are obsessed with sex, and that it’s women’s duty to dress modestly and keep themselves from leading men into situations where they cannot control themselves. It has occurred to me that if men are really so very dangerous as all that, a matriarchy might make more sense than patriarchy. Indeed, as I’ve written before, what I was taught about men and sex actually made me afraid of men. However, I’ve since been happy to learn that men are perfectly decent human beings who do, come to find out, think about things other than sex.

The point this satire makes is, I think, an excellent one: if men are really such sexual and violent creatures that women have to dress just so or curtail their travel so as to avoid being ravaged, wouldn’t it make as much sense to start controlling and regulating men’s behavior rather than women’s?

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://www.wineandmarble.com Hännah

    +1 for awesome.

  • Cathy W

    Golda Meir actually did this. In the wake of a rash of rapes, there was debate over a curfew for women – not allowed out late at night for their own safety, of course. Her response: “Men are committing the rapes; put them under curfew instead.” It didn’t fly, of course – but there was no curfew passed for women, either.

  • Rilian

    Instead of asking the woman “what were you wearing”, it’d be asking the man “were you wearing your blindfold?” If not then all sex is automatically rape.

  • http://www.mymusingcorner.wordpress.com/ Lana

    Lol, love this. Last year I told that I dressed in a way that I would be raped. The funny part is that I was drilled modesty so much in my life I still can’t dress immodestly. So I wasn’t immodest. If men would rape me for that grounds, then everyone is in crazy danger.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    The satire of that blog post is great, but the comments are depressing. Lots and lots of point-missage.

  • Katty

    Wonderful – this really is satire at it’s best! Its obvious absurdity makes the (for some) more hidden absurdity of the actual situation regarding women and “rape prevention” blatantly apparent. You read it and go “Oh God, no, we couldn’t do that to men! We can’t blindfold / put a curfew on them all just because some behave atrociously!” and if you are at all capable of analyzing your own reactions, you should immediately realize that that is exactly the point – we can’t wrap up / put a curfew on all women just because some men behave atrociously. Love it!

    • wanderer

      I actually didn’t think “God, no, we couldn’t do that to men”. I thought “what a relief, someone cares about women!” Wish this wasn’t satire.

  • ako

    This is awesome! (Although it’s probably only a matter of time before someone strips away the blatant “This is satire” stuff and goes “Feminists want to blind all men! I have proof!”)

  • http://www.rationalavenue.com Sourabh Tiwary

    Well, although a lot of feminists insist on putting the blame of rape on men (i agree with that) but this writer has brought a new perspective in the discussion. What can a women do to defend themselves.
    “Be a strong woman and create a strong society. Do your duty and you will have your rights automatically. There will be no need to ask for them. Don’t hate men for they have not taken your rights away. It is you who has given them your rights by your subtle and inexcusable weak behavior. We ourselves have switched off the light and now we cry about the darkness. Don’t be lethargic again. Don’t waste your energy in fighting against the ‘men-dominated’ world. Use that very energy to gain strength. I stress change your ways first, the rest will follow.”

    Source : http://www.rationalavenue.com/how-to-be-a-strong-woman-in-a-lame-society-2/

    • Monika

      I don’t disagree with strength and self defence but posting this on a thread about rape prevention seems to suggest it is the job of victims to prevent crimes against them. Do you really mean to suggest in all the situations where the victim fought back and it didn’t work or they didn’t fight because they froze or any of the many other possibly scenarios they deserved to be raped? “Inexcusable weak behaviour” sounds like blame to me.

  • ButchKitties

    The onus is always on the potential victim to change her behavior rather than on the potential rapist to change his. “But rapists are sociopaths who can’t be reasoned with,” is the excuse. We perpetuate this narrative of the sociopath rapist, when the truth is that most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, by otherwise “normal” people who have been taught that consent is a default state that must explicitly revoked instead of being taught that consent does not exist until it is enthusiastically given.

    There is evidence that rape prevention aimed at potential offenders can work. Since the launch of the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign in Edmonton, rapes have fallen by 10%. The Edmonton police have been so pleased with the results that they’re expanding the campaign. Offender-oriented campaigns send a positive message to potential victims as well. It provides assurance that they can report an assault without being subjected to the usual victim-blaming.

    Thousands of years of telling women what to do to avoid rape hasn’t stopped rape from happening. If anything, it has created a class of women who can be raped with complete impunity. It’s time for a different approach. Yes, we won’t be able to reason with the sociopaths, but we can reason with the many non-sociopaths who rape because they have been raised to believe that it is normal and manly to coerce sex.

  • wtf

    This comment is a little off the specific topic of the article and addresses thoughts on the subject matter in a general sense.

    I find this topic very confusing. On the one hand, there are people saying a woman is entitled to behave (dress, act, travel) any where/way she wants without the risk of having a man rape her. Sure, I agree with that. On the other, people say that taking preventative measures are good because they can significantly decrease the likelihood of a woman falling victim to rape. This, I also agree with.

    But it seems any attempt the marry the two ideas is met with vicious opposition. I’m by the majority of women that taking preventative measures blames the victim, and encourages men to rape. I don’t understand either of these arguments. We use crime preventative measures in virtually every aspect of our lives, and the majority of them are not so unduly impracticable as to cause a hardship on our daily routine. Further, none of these are thought to put blame on the victim, and are certainly not believed to encourage crime (e.g., the fact I have a password on my email account doesn’t convince me I’m encouraging identity theft).

    I understand that the crime of rape already leaves a woman with the thought that she is to blame to some degree. I also understand that by telling her if she had done X, Y, or Z the likelihood of it happening would have been reduced, worsens the extant self blame she feels. So is the answer simply silence? Do we just let women figure out for themselves that there are men capable of raping them if the opportunity presents itself? If your answer is, “yes, because men shouldn’t rape” you’re missing the point… men do rape. Unfortunately, this is a constant that in all probability will not change overnight. That’s why this answer (although it is correct) doesn’t do anything to remedy the problem.
    Final thought: One commenter here talks about a campaign called “Don’t be that guy.” While I think this is a great step in the right direction that should be aggressively pursued, I also think it would be a mistake and a tragic disservice to discount or mitigate information about preventative measures which are VERY effective in their own right.


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