What would you do to prevent someone you love from becoming a victim themselves? I understand why we are all much more careful now about how we approach these topics to avoid the appearance of victim-blaming but I worry about what message we send when we do that. Do we really want young women to believe that there is nothing that they can do to prevent this from happening to them too? That they will be prey for someone else eventually? That it’s just a matter of time before their number comes up?
Sometimes we have to face ugly truths for the greater good of others. The majority of rapes are not committed by strangers in dark alleys, they are committed by someone the victim knows. Better sex education (and the eradication of abstinence-only sex education) for example, can dramatically cut down on the incidence of acquaintance rape and date rape in a community. Improving the education, self esteem, and self awareness of young girls can also lead to fewer of them becoming victims in the first place.
Keeping our girls innocent and allowing them to believe that the world is a completely safe place where no one wishes them harm is a dangerous practice. Few of us will ever meet a true serial predator in our lifetimes but that doesn’t mean that we can live our lives with our guard down all the time either.
Those who prey on others know exactly how to find and target the weak who will make the easiest victim. They are counting on the fact that there are people who don’t want to believe that some people in the world are not naturally good-at-heart. They are looking for the people who cannot and will not stand up for themselves because they don’t want to make a fuss.
I will not sit passively by and hope that people will start behaving better because it’s “the right thing to do”. People are fundamentally selfish and won’t change unless it benefits them in some way. I do not believe that it is up to men only to fix this problem because in the harsh light of day, I still believe there are many of them who don’t see what they are doing as wrong.
It is my hope that honestly telling our stories, mistakes and all, will help the women who come after us better navigate the world we leave behind for them.