Opinion

Assault prevention 2.0: How to avoid rape | Amy Johnson

A couple of years ago, I wrote another article about consent — about the Slut Walk in Seattle, held in response to a police officer’s comments about women’s attire being associated with rape.

In response, I received a letter reacting to a reference in the article of a sign held at the Slut Walk that said: “My dress can’t say yes; only I can.” The man responded: “Not that rape is ever condoned, but do we walk around with money hanging out of our pockets in a frustrated attempt to cry out, ‘my pockets can’t say yes; only I can.’ A nice sentiment, but don’t make any big plans for that money.”

Herein lies the problem. In theory, we “don’t condone” rape. But in practice, many people in our society still think there’s some justification, however slight, when a woman dresses a certain way… or walks in a certain place at a certain time… or goes somewhere alone… or has a certain type of history… or is inebriated.

It’s a slippery slope, my friends. The only way to truly not condone rape is to realize that it’s not justified, ever.

Just because someone is dressed a certain way, or flirting, or drinking or using drugs, does not give anyone else the right to have sex with them. The only way that is OK is if they are of age and have mutually consented to this behavior. See my last article on what constitutes consent.

Furthermore, it’s an insult to men to say they can’t help themselves if a woman is dressed provocatively, or wants to engage in activities other than intercourse, but not have sex. Men are not animals, unable to control emotions or actions. To expect that type of behavior from them is demeaning and sexist. People resist temptation all the time.  It’s not always easy, but we do it.

All of us, men and women alike, need to think about our actions. Do I think I’ll put on a sexy dress and go walking down a dark alley tonight just for fun? No. But if I did, and if I were attacked, it would not be my fault. There is no law against my wearing a sexy dress or walking in a dark alley at night. There are laws against assaulting people, and none of them say, “Unless she was wearing a sexy dress and walking in a dark alley at night.” Some people just act like that’s what the laws say.

This is a hot topic. I hope this article has provoked you to at least continue having conversations with people you love and care about.

Perhaps you can start by asking the young men in your life what they do to avoid being raped. Most haven’t ever had to think about it.

Contrast that with what young women think about and do to avoid rape, and you’re likely to get quite a different answer.

For more ideas on what to talk about, go to www.100conversations.org. These conversations are what will end up changing the culture, so get talking. And stay safe out there.

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