Rape culture, and getting raped culture

Source: Times of India

Wait.

Before you come at me with your anger and your carefully prepared arguments, just wait.

While we definitely should not blame the victims of crimes for their misfortune, we must also take into cognizance the fact that we must also not show them blind faith or support and completely absolve them of all responsibility.

Wait a damn moment. Please.

Now when it’s raining, and you’re aware that it is, what do you do when you want to go outside? You take an umbrella.

Human nature is such that our first instinct is self-preservation. That is to say that we take steps to ensure our own safety. Our own survival.

Caution and precaution are steps we take everyday to avoid being stuck in unfavorable or dangerous situations. We take precaution to look at both sides of the road before crossing. We check the expiry date on gala before we eat it. We avoid drinking spoilt milk and throw out bad food the moment we realize it has gone bad. Why then do we want to avoid this seemingly important step when it comes to the issue of rape.

If we truly cared about the safety of women and upholding their rights in society, would we not adopt a multi-faceted approach to solving the issues that plague them?

I fear in our attempt to stop victim blaming, we have become too focused on punishing offenders and are losing sight of the real goal here. To help women who have been marginalized by society. Who have labeled liars and sluts by the very people who call themselves protectors. That, I believe is the real monster we’re fighting here.

So when I see people react violently to comments like “don’t go to the house of a man you don’t know”, “don’t wear short dresses” or “don’t sleep over” honestly, I’m torn. I’m torn because while I know these are not excuses or reasons for rape, I do not go out and leave the door to my house unlocked expecting not to be robbed.

I value the things in my house, so I protect them. Society as a whole may condemn theft and even punish it, but I as an individual am well aware of the possible dangers to myself. So I set up security measures. I take into consideration my environment and how the people in it perceive me. If they think I’m rich, I’m more likely to be robbed than someone who they think is not as well off. I might install burglary proof windows, an alarm system. Heck I might even buy a dog.

Now this is not to say that doing all of this ensures that I will never be robbed, but it does reduce the chances that I will be. If I do get robbed and the thief is caught, the law will punish him for his crimes, but first and foremost, I am responsible for myself.

I honestly believe this is the message we should push forward alongside our commitment to apprehending and punishing perpetrators of sexual crimes. We must remember that while reassuring our women that they are not at fault for existing, we must also prepare them to exist under a system that has failed them before, and will continue to fail them time and time again. We must not make caution a taboo topic not to be discussed or broached. Women have a right to protect themselves, not just to expect to be protected.

The next time you’re talking to women about their rights. About sexual freedom. About equality and justice. Remind them also to carry umbrellas when it’s raining.