Can women prevent rape as individuals? Is there some truth to the idea that women are raped because they dress or behave in a certain way? Short answer: no. The idea that a woman can prevent rape based on her behavior rests on the idea that men rape out of horniness when they don’t. It also rests on the idea that men rape out of miscommunication, when they don’t. And lastly it rests on the idea that men do not choose to rape, when they do. Men do not rape because they want sex, they rape because they want to dominate. No amount of sexual satisfaction can prevent rape, therefore no amount of sexual tension or arousal can cause rape.
It doesn’t matter if the woman was wearing the shortest skirt known to mankind, if she was dancing in the most provocative way a person can dance, if she smiled seductively at every single man in the room, and then led one (or more) of them to a private room, she still has the complete right to refuse sex. Even if at some point she says, “I really want to have sex with you! I am giving consent for sex, let’s have sex!” And then five minutes later changes her mind, she still has the right to not be penetrated or touched. To say otherwise denies that she has full ownership of her body. It places her body on par with a commodity, somewhat like a rental car. In that she is able, with some sort of action, to temporarily transfer ownership to someone else. If her body truly was her own, if the government respected a woman’s right to control her own body, there would be no question about when she ceased to control what happens to her, because there would never be such a time.
If you are to blame the victim for say, inviting a man up to her room in the first place, it ignores the conscious choice of the man to rape her. Even when you get to the point where there is kissing or touching, to assume that
sex rape “just happened” is to ignore the fact that at some point the man had a choice. To proceed with sex or to not proceed with sex. It isn’t as though a person can “accidentally” slip into someone else unannounced. I feel a lot of discussions of this ignore the fact that the actual act of initiating sex takes effort, a bit of thought, and some time. It isn’t like a switch is flipped. He has to consciously guide himself there, and if she doesn’t want the sex, *trigger warning* he is going to have to consciously force himself into her. There is no accident, there is no split second action. It is a conscious choice that he made to disregard her choice in the matter and rape her. No matter how she acted up until this point, there is a decisive moment when he has to make the choice to rape her. At some point, he has made a decision to not listen or care.
But none of this matters to the law. There exists a point to them where the woman ceases to have control of her own body. Depending on the individual case, this point can be as early as when she decides to go to a party. It is easier to place the blame on the woman than to admit that at some point, the man decided to be a violent disgusting monster and commit a horrible act. This would force men everywhere to acknowledge that other men are frequently capable of being so vile and disgusting. It is much easier to assume that he couldn’t help it since she wore such a short skirt. It turns it into a sort of “flattery” that she should be grateful he was that attracted to her, rather than the act of a sick, twisted monster.
This isn’t even counting the fact that the vast majority of rapes are committed by someone the victim knew. That means it was probably premeditated. She probably would have seen him before and assumed him to be safe. It is likely she knew him well, in which case he must have known what he was doing. He already knew what he needed to know. Yet in spite of all this, I am still as a woman told that it is my responsibility to prevent men from raping me. Simultaneously I am constantly told by the media that the only way to be accepted by society is to be “hot.” I am told that to be hot I have to party, drink, wear tiny skirts and dresses, high heels, and learn to strip and pole dance. I am told that the ultimate goal is to attract a good man. But when a woman does this and all she succeeds in doing is attracting a monster, she is blamed and told she is a whore. In doing this, society trains women to be raped.
Yet, despite all this, I am still warned to follow precautions. These precautions, despite not being applicable to 99.99% of rapes, I am told will protect me. If I imprison myself, I won’t be raped and if I am I won’t be blamed.
I have received the following things that tell me how I can prevent being raped, as though I somehow possess the key to controlling the male thirst for power. I shouldn’t wear my hair in a ponytail, talk on my phone while walking, listen to my ipod outside, carry things, leave my keys in my pocket, open my windows, get into my car without checking under and in it, walk past vans, take the time to put my groceries in the car without a male guarding me, walk through a parking lot (crowded or not) without male supervision, walk through parking garages without a male supervisor, go to parties, drink alcohol, wear clothes that are remotely revealing or remotely tight, turn my back on my drink even for a second to look across the room, turn my back on the room to have a sip of my drink, be alone with men, dance, be outside alone, go into the woods, mention sex around boys, make eye contact with men, act timid around men, ask for directions, go into public restrooms, walk away from main streets, basically I shouldn’t exist if I don’t want to be raped. And this isn’t even a complete list. If men were told this was all risky behavior that would put them at risk for having their bodily cavities pried open and tortured by women, hell would freeze over and the world would cease to exist until every last woman was locked in prison to reduce the risk. Any person with a 7 year old’s reading comprehension can see that this list restricts women’s freedoms to such an extent that she could be sent to prison and have more freedoms. So why is this considered common sense? It doesn’t even protect against the vast majority of rapes, the ones committed by people the victim knew, the kind she is most often blamed for.
The fact that victim blaming is the norm just shows how little regard the law and society has for the idea that women control their own bodies. The idea that women’s bodies aren’t public property is upsetting to many men. If society respected the right of a woman to choose what happens to her body, abortion rights wouldn’t be a question. Victim blaming could not exist because there would be no question about when a woman ceases to control her own body, since the point would never come. There are even laws allowing dead people and people in comas control of what happens to their bodies, so why isn’t the same privilege awarded to living women? When someone is rear-ended in a car accident, no one wonders why the car in front didn’t see the other car coming and move. So why are women expected to see rape coming and avoid it?