Fifty years later and the accusation that a woman is asking to be raped still persists.
Any person who believes someone asks to be raped has clearly never been raped. No-one asks to have their innocence and dignity violated. No-one asks to have their world shattered. No-one asks to cripple their life with fear, terror, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and powerlessness.
Rape is all about power and domination. The rapist wants power over another person, be that a child, a woman or another man. Rape is not about sexual gratification. In fact, many men who rape don’t ejaculate and some can’t raise an erection. That is why they use other things to rape with.
The act of rape is 100% the responsibility of the rapist. They are choosing to rape. They are choosing to violate the person. They want the person to be scared. They want them to feel shattered, broken, and powerless. To be totally honest, they get off on the person feeling this way. It is their intention to make they feel this way. No-one is making them have this desire, it is totally and absolutely within them.
Now, just for the sake of logic I want you to think about the choice of words thrown at women – she’s asking to be raped. You can’t ask to be raped. For starters, if you ask for sex, it’s consensual. Of course, we know men use this as their justification and many women tell the story that the man says to them during the rape, ‘you really want this.’ BUT THEY DON’T! No means NO!
So, what does it really mean when a woman is accused of asking to be raped? That she is dressed provocatively or scantily dressed; that she is out at night alone; that she is flirty; that she is drunk; that she is dancing daringly; or that she is simply there – in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I grew up with my father telling me that men can’t be trusted sexually. He drilled me with stories about how men won’t, don’t, and claim they can’t, control their sexual urges. He encouraged me to keep myself safe and not rely on or trust men to do the right thing. While he also supported me to know that I was of equal worth to any man, he didn’t fill me with false ideas about my independence being free of responsibilities. I was lucky.
What I observe in our current society, is generations of women raised believing they have the same rights as men, and therefore living their lives with the same freedoms as men. Men, for the most part, are free to walk home alone at 3am. Men can walk down a dark alley alone and not end up being raped. Men are more likely to be bashed and probably need to think about the dangers they are more prone to but I’ll save that for another post. And just for the sake of comparison, when a man is bashed, no-one accuses him of asking for it!
Feminism has bought more equality to women’s lives than fifty years ago but rape isn’t about equality. Rape is about power and domination. Rape is a choice the rapist makes. There are men who rape women. That is a reality women, and young girls, need to take into consideration when making choices about how they live their lives.
Should a woman be able to walk home at 3am alone? Absolutely! Is it safe for a woman to walk home alone at 3am? Probably most of the time it is.
When I was learning to drive a car my dad told me that ‘it didn’t matter how well I drove, if there was an idiot on the road I could still end up in a car accident.’ Well the same goes for other risks in life. It’s not about rights or equality; it’s about making informed choices based on reality. Dad taught me to scan my environment when driving to pre-empt risks. The same goes with other dangers in life. But when rape happens, no matter our choices or actions, it’s not our fault. We don’t make someone violate our safety, security, dignity, or humanity.
Too often we blame the victim and justify the actions of the perpetrator and that is exactly what the words ‘she’s asking to be raped’ does.
What do you say to someone who says, ‘but she was asking to be raped’?