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“Don’t Be a Victim!”

This is, at least indirectly, a follow-up to my post from a week or so back about trusting your gut.

I’m a pretty strong supporter of the idea of self-defense. I enrolled my daughter in karate years ago. (This is how I ended up taking it as well.) She eventually dropped out, but I hope she retained at least some of the basics: things like a willingness to be loud, fight back, and raise a fuss.

I love working with the kids in class, teaching them to throw punches while at the same time yelling things like, “No! You’re not my Dad! Stranger!” I love when can show someone that even though I might be physically stronger, there are some pretty straightforward things they can do to put me on the ground.

But I have a problem with … let’s call it a certain philosophy about self-defense, one best summed up by the phrase, “Don’t be a victim!” The assumption being that if you follow all of this training, then you’ll be safe … and as a direct corollary, if you’re assaulted, then it’s because you didn’t remember your training. I.e., it’s your own fault.

How often have we seen and heard that phrase? Don’t be a victim! Like it’s all about the victim’s choice. “Gosh, I’m bored and there’s nothing good on TV. Guess I’ll go get myself assaulted.” Why the hell do we so rarely see, “Don’t be a rapist!” or “Don’t be a batterer!”

There are certainly things you can do to affect your chances of being victimized. A stranger is more likely to target someone whose body language projects nervousness and insecurity than someone who projects confidence. Learning to trust your gut, like my daughter did in the previous post, can help you avoid or escape a bad situation. Physically working with someone else, learning what it’s like to take a hit, to punch and kick and throw, can cut down on that moment of paralysis when and if something happens. All of these are good things.

Yet the majority of rapes are committed, not by strangers, but by friends and family members. (73% of rapes against women, according to one 2005 study.) Another study finds that more than half of all violent crime occurs between non-strangers. Self-defense programs often do a great job talking about strangers; how many prepare you to fight off a boyfriend, a relative, or a coworker? (Some do, and that’s great … but it’s nowhere near as common, in my experience.)

Even the best self-defense techniques aren’t perfect. After working with countless rape survivors, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no guaranteed way to be safe. I’ve been told many times in Sanchin-Ryu that no matter how good you are, you’re going to get hit. There is no perfect defense. Likewise, as long as there are individuals determined to commit rape and assault, there is no way to guarantee you won’t be a victim.

The other problem is that the “Don’t be a victim!” approach tends to put most or all of the responsibility on the potential victims. We’ll send girls to learn self-defense, and voila, we’ve solved rape and domestic violence! As opposed to emphasizing things like bystander intervention, or just addressing the myths and assumptions that teach people (primarily men) that it’s okay to commit these crimes in the first place. It came up a lot when I was working at MSU. I’d talk to groups about rapes on campus, and the first — sometimes the only – suggestion would be for self-defense training for girls.

Does anyone else see a problem with making women responsible for fixing crimes committed primarily by men?

There’s got to be more. Even something as simple as trusting your gut has to go further. It can’t just be about a girl turning back because a stopped car looks wrong. It has to be about the guy at a party who sees a couple and notices that the girl looks uncomfortable. It’s about that guy trusting his own gut and actually stepping in to ask if everything’s all right. It’s about everyone at World Fantasy Con who saw the famed “creeper” harassing women but did nothing, ignoring their own gut feelings, because they assumed someone else would intervene.

I wouldn’t be continuing my study of karate if I didn’t believe in the things I’m learning and teaching there. But self-defense can’t be the only solution. Nor can we allow it to shift the responsibility from the perpetrators onto the victims.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 124 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 13th, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
I occasionally hear macho guy types boast that they are "hard to kill." Nope. No one is hard to kill. We are all soft and squishy and have urgent, ongoing need for our brains, hearts, and lungs. When guys say they are hard to kill, what they really mean is that they are good fighters. But you can still kill someone who is a good fighter--you just avoid the fight. Self-defense training is nothing more than an imperfect way of giving people some tools that *might* tip the balance if they are ever attacked. But we are all vulnerable. We are all potential victims. The real solution is to stop the perpetrators.
Feb. 13th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
Or you fight differently. Gun, knife, running the dude down in a car ... bodies are almost infinitely breakable.

I'm all for giving people additional tools, but let's not delude ourselves that any tool will apply to all situations.
(no subject) - cissa - Feb. 20th, 2012 05:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 13th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
May I share this on FB?
Feb. 13th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
Absolutely, thank you.
Feb. 13th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
More male entitlement. It makes me frothing insane how, every time the subject of rape prevention comes up (and it comes up way, way too often), how the men are always the ones who cannot, must not change -- it's in their nature to rape, apparently. Honey, you gotta watch yerself. Don't encourage him. And what th' hell are you doin' walkin' in that part o' town? Wearin' that outfit?

This outlook is diseased.

There are psychological and sociological root causes for it, I'm sure. All I know is, it's wrong, and women -- people -- shouldn't have to put up with the notion of man-as-potential-rapist-one-external-stimulus-from-losing-control as some kind of default setting.
Feb. 13th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
Let's think that through. Let's assume, for the sake of the asinine argument, that men really are incapable of controlling ourselves, and that a hot babe in a short skirt will send us into uncontrolled acts of sexual violence.

What do you do if you've got a dangerous animal roaming the streets, one that seems to be calm now, but will be set off the first time it gets a whiff of meat?

A) Lock it up
B) Shoot it

Shouldn't the same standards of societal safety apply to guys who truly believe they can't control their "animal impulses"?
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Feb. 13th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
So, let's consider that advice in light of a particular characteristic of MOST attacks Jim mentioned.

What if the "there" that you need to avoid in order to follow this advice is your home?
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(no subject) - rimrunner - Feb. 13th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Feb. 13th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
When I use the phrase "Don't be a victim" it is never in the context of future attack, it is usually in the context of a person who is living their life now as the continuing victim of some past experience (be it horrific or exaggerated). You may have been a victim at one time, this does not mean it needs to control your life and keep you in that mode forever. This doesn't mean life will be easy, but it does mean you need to move forward.
Feb. 13th, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC)
Or, to put it another way...
"They made you into a victim, Evey. They made you into a statistic. But that's not the real you. That's not who you are inside."
Feb. 13th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
THANK you.

I have a decade of martial arts training (from a student of Bruce Lee's, if you please) and better than average situational awareness. I've gotten myself out of a couple of hairy situations.

But self defense training is like insurance; it doesn't guarantee something won't happen to you. It just gives you some resources if (when) it does. And the other guy might just be lucky, or better than you, or more willing to fuck shit up.

And, yeah. The three times I've experienced sexual assault, two times were by someone I knew and one of those was a boyfriend. All three incidences were in college and I wish the otherwise excellent self defense class I took back then had emphasized that element more.
Feb. 13th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
Back in the day, before I had kids, I worked in a few dance clubs. Drunk, aggressive men were par for the course. One night, there was a drunk customer who kept trying to put his arm around me as he chatted me up, and a few minutes into this... uh, "conversation," a second man came over and turned the talk into something resembling coherency. After a couple of minutes, the first guy decided this wasn't going the way he wanted it to and wandered off. Once he was sure the first guy had retreated far enough he wasn't likely to be coming back, the second guy told me I'd looked uncomfortable and he'd wanted to come over to make sure the situation didn't get out of control. He didn't work at the club, he didn't know the drunk guy, he didn't know me, he just saw a young woman in what could have quickly become a bad situation and wanted to help out. He didn't expect my gratitude, either; once he'd explained what he'd been doing, he told me that if anyone else started bothering me to come look for him at his table and went back to what he'd been doing before. I have very mixed feelings about this experience. On the one hand, it's a good example of how sometimes a decent person does notice what's going on and will come over to help. On the other hand, it's a rare enough occurence that it's got to be ten years later, and that incident still sticks with me.

Also, this is the best assault prevention list ever. I wish it were more widely used.
Feb. 13th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
That is close to perfect.

I would add "If children are in your charge, ESPECIALLY do not assault them."

Something like 95% of the people who assault children are not strangers - they are family members, foster family members, clergy, coaches, teachers and so on (think Gerry Sandusky, Father James Porter, and so on).

The most important lesson kids can learn is scream, run and get to an adult who, hopefully, can be trusted. And the most important lesson an adult can learn is to listen to the kids and believe them when they report an assault/attempted assault.
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Feb. 13th, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
Long time reader, first time poster
Firstly: Thank you. Not only for this post, but also dozens upon dozens of others that are well-thought out, insightful, and very meaningful discussions of a whole host of topics.

Not keeping my mouth shut about issues of sexual assault, rape, and sexism has been a recent habit of mine in the past few months. It's like potato chips, you can't have just one. One of the memes on Facebook that seemed to suggest "Just get a gun to prevent rape!" made me twitch so hard that I researched and wrote my first essay on why it isn't that easy.

And while most of the comments were positive, some STILL (in the face of several hours of research) defended that a gun will solve everything. Or the question of "What about the very likely possibility of having to bring yourself to shoot a loved one?" went totally unanswered. From that point, I've spoken up a hell of a lot more than I ever thought I would.

Feading the posts you make and browsing your archive of posts on these subjects is really helpful and, quite happily, hopeful. Reading the views of anyone with experience on a subject is always a good idea. I've learned quite a bit. You've particularly added a level of insightfulness and depth that helps in crafting the things I think and talk about.

It's also wonderful to know that I'm not alone in speaking up. Knowing that there are many others who are willing to tackle the difficult issues head-on helps buoy my spirits in the middle of a discussion that's devolved into "I don't blame victims, but..."

Knowing that others won't stay silent either helps give me the courage to speak up.
Feb. 13th, 2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Long time reader, first time poster
The whole "I'll just kill all the rapists!" thing ... I totally understand the anger there, and I can't say I'd cry all that much if more rapists ended up taking a bullet, but I think it massively oversimplifies things. It's more like Mark Wahlberg talking about how if he'd been on the plane, he totally would have kicked those hijackers' asses. Like you say, are you really going to be so quick to pull the trigger against your boyfriend? Your father? Your priest? Your teacher? You think the legal system is going to be on your side if you do (given the history of how victims of sexual violence are treated in court)? You're certain you're trained enough to use the gun correctly and not have it used against you instead?

And is "Gosh, rape's bad ... better carry a gun!" really the best we can do?

Out of curiosity, is the essay you wrote about this posted online anywhere?
Re: Long time reader, first time poster - cissa - Feb. 20th, 2012 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Long time reader, first time poster - jimhines - Feb. 21st, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rimrunner - Feb. 13th, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cissa - Feb. 20th, 2012 05:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 13th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
My guess would be that people give out this sort of "advice" simply because they have the person afraid of assault in front of them to give it to, whereas they assume that they don't know any rapists, so they don't have anyone to chant "Don't Rape People!" at.

Young women worried about assault are at least easily identifiable, since it's, y'know, most of them.

Which, as they say, is not an excuse, but it is a reason.
Feb. 13th, 2012 04:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this! Sincerely. It is so rare to hear people focus on the perpetrator rather than the victim.

I tell people the "Don't do this to avoid assault" lists are just magical thinking. Sure, there's good advice in there, but for the most part, they provide a way for people who haven't been raped to point at victims/survivors and say, "See, it couldn't have happened to be because X."

Until it does, with depressing frequency.
Feb. 13th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
I agree that some men are hopeless. They'll assault others no matter what you do.

But, I also think that a few men have worn blinders for a long time. If a list like that stops one man, that's something.
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 13th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - 3rdragon - Feb. 13th, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 13th, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
I think the most basic answer to a lot of what's being discussed here is that the construction of heterosexual romantic relationships in Western culture is:

The woman resists (usually passively) and the man persists until he's defeated her defenses.

This is the way most fairytales are set up – the princess in the tower – most romance novels – the pirate captain and his buxom hostage – and even 'healthy' romantic portrayals follow this pattern – the woman, frequently completely unaware of the man's existence, is approached by a hopeful guy. Adventures ensue in which he proves himself (comedically or otherwise, depending on the type of story) and the woman realizes she loves him.

And, I believe it's basically a recipe for disaster on both sides of the equation. The girl or woman is made to be the puritanical guardian of her own desires and wants, and forbidden the right to go after what (who) she might want, while the man is expected to risk emotional dangers by throwing himself at someone and hope that he sticks.

I think that until this basic construction changes, we're always going to have the problems you're talking about here.
Feb. 13th, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
I think there's a lot of truth here. Heck, when I used to talk to guys about sexual violence, one of the things I brought up was the language we use. We talk about "scoring" with a woman ... a sports term that refers to overcoming the opponent's defense. The whole mindset is a competitive one, which is rather sick, and creates so many problems in so many aspects of our relationships.
(no subject) - xtricks - Feb. 13th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Feb. 13th, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC)
I actually had a high school teacher tell me that I looked like a potential rape victim after a self-defense program once. (Because I was clumsy and tended to look at my feet when I walked instead of looking at the people around me... and falling on my face. Well, and early childhood taught me that being "invisible" was safer than being "confident" regardless of what self-defense gurus said.) She didn't offer any actual suggestions for making myself look less like a potential rape victim, of course.* And my response was along the lines of "Aww, gee. Thanks for noticing."

Not sure where I'm going with that. Except that I always found self-defense training that focused on figuring out what was wrong with victims fairly bizarre. Mostly, I already knew what was wrong with me.

*You know, just stop being clumsy and looking at your feet. How hard is that?
Feb. 13th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)

I actually found martial arts training to be helpful for this. Not because it made me confident that I could fight off attackers, but because it made me become less clumsy and, perhaps more immportantly, feel less clumsy. After learning to fall and roll and center myself, other people (including some men) told me that I walked like I was trouble. And hearing that was very, very empowering.

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Feb. 13th, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
The POW Perspective
"Don't be a victim" is an often self-defeating, because it presumes the power of avoidance. Not right, or potential, but ACTUAL power — something that a ten-year-old being molested by Wicked Uncle Ernie, or a pregnant twenty-five-year-old with two small children and no job skills, may not have, or at least not perceive that he/she has. If one does not acknowledge power imbalances, then "failure" in not BEING a victim becomes personal failure — and, ultimately, a prison for the soul.

Instead, I suggest considering the mindset of the successful, survivor POW: "Don't live as a victim." That means expending what power you have where it can make a difference, and not letting what SERE training calls "bad encounters" reflect on yourself — only on your situation. When you can overtly resist without making the situation worse, do so. When you cannot overtly resist without making the situation worse, resist covertly. When you cannot resist at all — and contrary to the testosterone-laced toughguy fantasies of resisting torture indefinitely, everyone has that point or circumstance — acknowledge that you had a bad encounter and remember that the next one will be different in at least some way. This is one of the reasons that after the Korean unpleasantness of the 1950s and the early stages of the Vietnamese unpleasantness a decade or so later, the American military changed the so-called "Code of the American Fighting Man" so that it no longer treated giving up more than one's name, rank, and serial number as a personal failure... or a court-martial offense (don't laugh, it was prior to the adoption of the present Uniform Code of Military Justice in 1968).

I've had extensive contact (personally and professionally) with a number of former POWs. Without exception, those who maintained any semblance of humanity separated the fact of victimization from the consequence of victimhood. Without exception, those who did not... did not, or could not. The problem with "don't be a victim" is not the positive view of taking responsibility, but the negative consequence of a situational failure becoming a personal one.

To link back to Our Gracious Host's situation with his daughter, she did exactly the correct thing not by "fighting back," but by avoiding a dangerous power imbalance that might have led to a direct confrontation in the first place. In a different situation, the correct (or a correct) response might be different; refusing to go out on the playground at recess because there's a bully out there doesn't work as well... and bullying is just as much about victimization as are many darker situations.
Feb. 13th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
Re: The POW Perspective
Quick question - SERE? I'm not familiar with that particular acronym.
Re: The POW Perspective - georgmi - Feb. 13th, 2012 06:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 13th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
Everything you write here is well said and I agree, but I want to comment on one little piece: "learning what it’s like to take a hit."

I think this is very important, and generally overlooked. I have known, and heard, and read so many women who are terrified of the the possibility of being hit, and I worry that the terror will paralyze them if they are ever about to be attacked.

I had a brother 11 months younger than I, and until we were about 12 and 13, we were very similar in height, weight, and strength. We fought, physically, often. I got hit, and I hit back. And what happened was that as I grew older, I had no particular fear of the possibility of being hit. It really surprised me when I discovered how many women did have that fear, and to an incapacitating degree.

Now, I'm not recommending sibling fistfights. But the value of learning what it's like to take a hit--that's real.
Feb. 13th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
It's an interesting piece of Sanchin-Ryu, something I hadn't run into before. We don't have sparring the way I've seen in other styles. The new students don't fight at all, but as you move up in rank, you do kumite -- practice fighting with no pads. You learn very quickly to control your own strikes and to take some hits (not full-power).

At my rank, the senseis will also demonstrate strikes on me sometimes. Again, I don't think they're hitting me at full power (on account of the fact that I've not had to go to the hospital), but they're not being gentle, either. It's ... I don't want to call it fun, but it's been a surprisingly positive part of the learning process.
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Feb. 13th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
Escalating Violence
I can see the appeal in teaching people to defend themselves, and I'd never discourage someone from martial arts training. I found my own training rewarding in lots of ways. Still, as my husband's martial arts teacher used to say, "Nine times outta ten, bigger man gonna win."

Beyond that, I am really uncomfortable with promoting More Violence as the answer. Violence sucks. Being more violent than the other guy is not a "win" for me. If you waved a magic wand and taught all women self-defense, I think their rapists would adjust pretty quickly in a really horrible arms race. This is not a better world we would be making.
Feb. 13th, 2012 11:11 pm (UTC)
The way one of my friends used to put it was, "In six months you can learn enough to deal with 90% of what you're ever likely to encounter. You spend the rest of your life learning to deal with the remaining 10%."

I do not think that teaching self-defense promotes violence. Most of the martial artists I know are also among the least violent people I know, and the one exception I can think of would have anger issues whether he knew gung fu or not. I'd say that my own training has helped me avoid violence more than I would have otherwise, actually.
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Feb. 13th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I vividly recall how impossible I found it to yell on command in self-defence class -- I'd been socialised not to, and I simply felt intimidated. The teacher, who was female, was very supportive about it, but all the same... It's hard enough, without the endless discourse about how victims should have behaved.
Feb. 13th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
And then there's Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear, which someone recommended to me as a useful, insightful book. I found it equal parts intimidating, disempowering and patronising, because at its core is the belief that women *must* listen to their fears, because obeying their socialisation and acting otherwise is dangerous, and more or less makes them complicit in any attacks or abuse they suffer.
Nowhere was the idea that women perhaps should not be having to live in fear in the first place. Or that men might consider changing their behaviour. It was all about being a good girl when in danger.
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Feb. 13th, 2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking a lot about this lately, prompted in part by a recent Dear Prudence chat that was all about the victim blaming and left me nauseated and then by this column by Captain Awkward that confronts it.

I'm so tired and frustrated by the continual "well, it's not your fault, but if you just--" Just nothing! Seriously, just nothing! It's NOT YOUR FAULT.

People who give advice to women on this mean well, and sound reasonable, but there is an undertone of blame in it that (13 years after I thought I did everything right and still got assaulted) makes me hate myself a little.
Feb. 13th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
Honestly, as a woman, I'm so tired of men telling me what I need to do to avoid being raped. I'm so tired of the our natural default in society is "yes" unless a stringent "no" is said (and even then, no doesn't usually mean no, right?)

I want to know where all the articles and guides are that are written by men FOR men. I want to know where all those men are who are willing to intervene when an assault or rape is happening as opposed to leaving the room or looking away?
Feb. 13th, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
Self-defense programs often do a great job talking about strangers; how many prepare you to fight off a boyfriend, a relative, or a coworker? (Some do, and that’s great … but it’s nowhere near as common, in my experience.)

That's one of the things I really liked about the first self-defense course I ever took, a women's course called Wen-Do. The instructors told us early on that most attackers are people you know, and that there were likely to be times when we'd want to fight back without risking seriously injuring or killing the person. They divided techniques into what they called "hard" and "soft" - the soft ones being things that could deter or temporarily incapacitate someone without seriously injuring them, and the hard ones being those that could potentially seriously hurt or kill someone. And they put a lot of emphasis on knowing when to use which.
Feb. 20th, 2012 06:10 am (UTC)
That is brilliant.
Feb. 13th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
I have a question for you all? What do you recommend a small female do if she *sees* a distinctly uncomfortable situation?

I saw a couple arguing rather nastily and it was obvious that the woman wasn't comfortable at all. I didn't feel comfortable stepping over physically (though I toyed with the idea of asking for the time or something).

I also didn't want to make a big fuss about it for fear of later repercussions. What terrified me about the situation was: would my stepping in actually made things worse? Not then and there, but later where there weren't other people around. (I've known people in abusive relationships and it's twisted how abusers will make their partner pay for something someone else does that makes the abuser look bad.)

So I just stuck around and kept my eye on them, as obviously as I could. (Glaring daggers kind of watching). I thought that maybe if that a-hole knew he was being watched, he would stop or at least the girl would know someone was trying to be on her side...Of course, most people just ignored them AND me....Eventually, a big construction worker noticed what I was watching and offered to intervene.

It's been bothering me. It was the best solution I could come up with at the moment, but should I have done more? (And if I should have, please tell me so I have the guts to do so next time).

Feb. 13th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of ways to answer your questions, and I doubt there's any simple "Right" answer.

My first thought is that you have to address your own safety. Whether this means getting help or leaving the situation and calling someone or doing something else entirely depends on you and on what's going on, but you need to protect yourself first. Analogy: a fireman can't save anyone if he rushes into an unsafe situation and gets himself (or herself) killed...

In this case, it sounds like you weren't as worried about your own safety as you were about what he would do to the woman later, in private? That he might punish her for anything you said or did?

My gut feeling comes back to the fact that the abuser is making his own choices. You're not responsible for what he does, and if he's going to do something to her, you asking if everything is all right probably isn't going to change or affect that. I could be wrong, and maybe he'll use that as an excuse for violence ... but if you don't, he'll just find another excuse.

Personally, as a smaller guy, much as I'd love to charge in all superhero-like and save the day, I think my strategy would be to ask a few people to go with me. If I walk over alone, there's a chance things will escalate. If there are three of us asking, "Hey, are you both okay over here?" then I think most people are less likely to react as violently, if that makes sense? If you're not there with friends who could help, you might even ask the staff or a friendly-looking construction worker, depending on the situation.

Does that make sense?

I'm in no way second-guessing what you did do -- you stayed safe, and someone did notice and offer to help intervene, both of which are *good* things.
(no subject) - lenora_rose - Feb. 13th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rachelmanija - Feb. 14th, 2012 04:37 am (UTC) - Expand
breaking up a bad situation - (Anonymous) - Feb. 15th, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 13th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
Here is a particularly horrible story of an assault this weekend that killed a child. Neighbors claimed they heard banging but no screaming so they said they didn't know what was happening.


Some people are trapped. The kid was trapped and must have felt he had no options
Feb. 13th, 2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
Some sources that educate men not to rape/assault

and another


http://www.xojane.com/relationships/rape-campaign-finally-admits-men-have-something-do-it?utm_medium=twitter#.TwYLcAMz2Jw.twitter Some cool posters by men for men. Great stuff!

direct link referenced in above article:


and in the same vein as your post, over at Shakesville:


Thank you for bringing this issue to light because one of the first things that happens to a rape victim is that others re-victimize her by pointing out all the "you should have done x" ideas they can think of. It is a way for other women to convince themselves that they can be safe, and a way for some guys to make it ok with themselves that some men do this. Make it all her fault and everybody--but of course the victim--walks away feeling like their world is safe and manageable.

We (as a society) do the same thing with serious illness. If we can figure out what the sick person did/ate/thought/felt that brought the illness on themselves we are safe--or so we'd like to think. [I'm not kidding about the thought/felt part--some people actually have blamed people with cancer for having repressed emotions that somehow created their cancer.]
Feb. 14th, 2012 09:02 am (UTC)
Re: Some sources that educate men not to rape/assault
Feb. 13th, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
I like this post, and the discussion in the comments, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter LJ.
Feb. 13th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
As a mom and teacher, I keep my eye out for kids and teens who look unhappy or uncomfortable. I will close space to the situation, and look sympathetic/questioning toward the child.

Kids will run over to me for the support, or edge toward me. Teen girls have borrowed my phone to call home for a ride at my suggestion, when a boyfriend was too domineering.

I've had kids come over and pretend I'm mom at the mall because a creepy guy was following them, and we've gone to the mall security together.

It is amazing how just *noticing* the issue puts you in a position to change something.

At the behavior treatment center for troubled teens at which I teach, I make students practice saying things like:

"I don't like this any more. Please stop."
"Let go of my arm. This isn't cool any more."
"I said no. I need you to listen to me, not just take what you want like a bully."
"Don't I love you? When you act like you don't love or respect me like you're doing right now, you make it hard!"
Feb. 14th, 2012 12:50 pm (UTC)
I wish more grown-ups would do this, both to let people know they're not alone and can come to you for support, and also to model that behavior so that the kids learn to do the same thing for others...
Feb. 13th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
Terrific post.

It's always very tempting to, on some level, blame the victim; if it's about rape, or even ilness etc.
Because it makes us feel safe.

After all, we ourselves would not be so stupid as to walk into that dark alley, wear that short skirt, ignore our gut, eat unhealthily, right?

The belief in a 'just world', where everyone gets what they deserve, is comfortable because deep down, most people think that they deserve only good things.

But of course, things just happen.
For a reason, for no good reason, or for no reason at all.
To *everyone*, not just to others.

We can try and lower our chances, but chances will never be zero.

Still, even being aware of the mechanism, I catch myself thinking like that; not necessarily on this issue, but on smaller ones.
Feb. 14th, 2012 09:04 am (UTC)
I think a lot of our lives are organized around trying to avoid the realization that random things happen and we can't control everything.
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Jim C. Hines

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