I’d love to know your opinions on this, as we’ve just been having a discussion about it on Twitter (follow us @dawnhfoster and @carmenego)
I read a post this morning that I found interesting and re-tweeted it:
I’d better clear some things up on a personal level as I have a lot of friends and fellow Twitterers who were offended by this article.
- Most women probably don’t spend every waking minute of their day wondering whether the postman or unusually friendly man at the bar will rape them. I know I certainly don’t. This article says they definitely do, which would be impractical if you’re a woman and have a job or letter box or any sort of social life.
- I live my life, like the vast majority of women, on the basis that I will not get attacked, mugged, run over, slip on a banana skin cracking my skull open, fall off a cliff, die under a piano etc etc.
- Whilst the article is worded a bit (ahem) contentiously, I think there are some good points made, that have perhaps been lost in the overprecautious anecdotes and blunt tone.
The way that I read the article was as an exaggerated anecdote about personal safety. Ok, it reads as if the onus is on women to not get attacked, rather than this tiny proportion of men who commit rape to just not attack. I’ll get back to that in a minute. What I was particularly interested in was:
When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions.
From time to time, I get people approaching me out and about, telling me I look nice, yet I find it very difficult to take it as a compliment. As much as I’d love to take the compliment at face value, I instantly check what I’m wearing: Is it low cut? Is the skirt too short? Were the fishnet stockings and hotpants combo a bad idea? Am I wearing something that indicates I’m “up for it”? I’m really sorry that this is such a backwards thing to say, and that’s it’s opinions like these that propagate a culture of fear. But when a compliment is given out of context, I question it.
Also issues with risk assessment? In broad terms, people often overestimate risk of violent crime compared to other risks / + to what extent can one accurately predict the risk posed by one person or situation over another?
We can do our own research and find out for ourselves that nearly 9 out of 10 rapes are perpetrated by someone known to them. And yet look what our beloved news is telling us…
This constant narrative feeds into us women, and it’s hardly surprising to see articles like this:
So when a stranger approaches you out of the blue and starts a conversation, I’m not sure it’s completely unfair to suggest that some women might question your motivation for doing so. @LouiseJJohnson says:
When approached by a bloke, many women think “Oh No Not Again” because too often, a similar situation has turned out badly.
What do you think? Are you a woman who modifies your behaviour to the same extent that the woman who wrote the original blog post does? And if so, why? If it doesn’t make a statistical difference if you get assaulted then why is it such an issue?
Were you offended by this article? On re-reading, substituting gender for ethnicity, I have to say I see the point that a lot of men raised, that it was playing on the assumption that all men are potential rapists. We do not assume that all Muslims are potential terrorists, or that all women are potential bunny boilers, or that all white people are racist, why should this be any different?