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Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:57 PM

We must fight the voice that says: stay home, keep your legs closed and your eyes lowered

‘‘It’s always sad to see young women become victims of sexual offences,” wrote Heather Keating, the head of Hastings Police, on her Twitter feed on the last day of 2012. “Don’t Drink too much on New Years Eve and regret your actions!” There’s a slim chance she could have been talking to men, telling them not to get drunk and assault someone, but that’s not a message that law enforcement has yet managed to promote successfully in the 21st century. Sadly, Keating’s meaning was as clear as it was predictable: women should take responsibility for “protecting” themselves from sexual assault because sexual assault is just a fact of life.

It was a good year for rape apologists in 2012. We had American politicians telling us that there is such a thing as “legitimate rape”, that “some girls rape easy”; we had a British politician telling us that date rape is simply “bad sexual etiquette”. But as Jessica Valenti wrote in The Purity Myth, “being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.”

Keating’s words, by contrast, recall the depressing dogma of Constable Michael Sanguinetti, who told a group of female students in Toronto in 2011 that they should avoid “dressing like sluts” if they didn’t want to be raped, kicking off the SlutWalk protests around the world.

Protection
Keating later qualified her tweet, insisting that “I am trying to protect victims of crime”. Undoubtedly she is. Structural sexism does not always come from a place of hate. When our great-grandparents’ generation urged their daughters to marry young or face social purgatory they thought they were doing so in their best interests. A hundred years later, when we tell our friends and children and younger sisters not to stay out late, not to walk in certain areas of the city after dark, and not to go out and get hammered in Hastings, we are thinking the same thing. We tell women and girls these things, not always because we secretly hate them, but because we care about them, we want to protect them, individually, from a world that we know isn’t as equal as we sometimes pretend.

This is what we are fighting when we fight rape culture – not just career misogynists spreading their bile over the airwaves like so much tacky mucus, but the quiet voice inside us that whispers, “Not so fast.” The voice that tells us that if only we stay home and keep our legs closed and our eyes lowered we’ll be safe.

Unfortunately, however, rape culture gets you coming and going. It is precisely about fear, about creating a culture where women are afraid to participate in public life as men do. A life lived in fear of sexual violence, a life where you cannot take the risks that men take without anticipating physical attack or, worse still, being attacked and then blamed for it, is not a life lived freely. It isn’t even going to protect you or those you love: in a recent study, more than half of all rape victims in the United States reported being raped by an intimate partner, a boyfriend, husband or lover. Most rapists are known to and trusted by the person they assault. Behaving “responsibly” is not, ultimately, any protection against sexual violence.


http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-penny/2013/01/we-must-fight-voice-says-stay-home-keep-your-legs-closed-and-your-eyes-lowered

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Reply We must fight the voice that says: stay home, keep your legs closed and your eyes lowered (Original post)
ismnotwasm Jan 2013 OP
historylovr Jan 2013 #1

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:20 PM

1. This:

Unfortunately, however, rape culture gets you coming and going. It is precisely about fear, about creating a culture where women are afraid to participate in public life as men do.

As long as this is true, we are not free. We are instead shackled by thousands of years of patriarchy that says if you're female, you're property, a sexual object. Subhuman. This must end.

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