In the wake of a recent horrific sexual assault, on the beach, during the day, both police and the Government have seen fit to issue warnings to women to “be aware of their surroundings” and to “take care in isolated places”.
On the face of it, that seems like good advice. On the other hand, What. The. Fuck? Do any of us routinely not take care? If alone (as happens, if you live alone, if you are a person, if you live at fucking all) do you just take unnecessary risks and float along thinking nothing terrible will ever, ever happen to you? For most of us, no.
This reminds me of when we (women) were all told to take taxis together, not singularly, to give the plate number to a friend, etc etc etc. You know what happened? The taxi driver went mental and practically refused to take us home. Not the one who tried to drug me with rohypnol, but the one who assumed our male friend had branded him a rapist by merely taking his details. You can’t fucking win.
I am so incensed by this “advice” I could burn shit down with my anger. Call me a bit mental but this advice (and I wish I could find Shinynewcoin’s blog on this because she said it better than I could) is all about putting responsibility back on the victim. Take care, because YOU are repsonsible for not being raped. I wonder how many men are told (or think) be careful going down the fucking beach in the middle of the day. You may get raped and have your jaw broken.
On national UK TV, stupid idiotic Eamon Holmes told a 20 year old rape victim he hoped she would “take taxis from now on” because she was brutally raped whilst walking a few hundred metres home. As I have said before: taxi driver John Worboys was convicted for raping (at least) 12 women.
We all fucking goddamit take care. I took care when the man, a stranger, barged into the toilets of my local pub (whilst my boyfriend and best friend were upstairs, on a Tuesday night at about 8pm) locked me in a cubicle and tried to rape me.
I took care when a boy I thought was just a friend violated me in my bedroom and put a hand over my mouth to stop me screaming when I was 17.
I subsequently found out years later he’d drugged and raped a friend I’d met at uni (we only knew this when we were celebrating the end of uni exams and we were at a restaurant and he was the waiter and we both lost it and had to go outside and cried in each other’s arms). But who would believe us? Why didn’t we say anything? We felt we couldn’t . We were too scared and too young to do anything about it. And I will live with that regret for the rest of my life. Perhaps if there had been help or support from anyone we knew, we could have stopped these men from doing more to other women. But everyone wanted to sweep it under the carpet as “a thing”. So we tried to as well. I’ve blocked a lot of it out but the absolute horror of doing nothing. Of not being able to do anything now (I can’t even remember their names for god’s sake) It keeps me awake at night. It fucking haunts me.
So that aside, “take care” ??? Are you fucking serious? It is not my responsibility to make sure I am not raped. It is EVERYONE’S repsonsibility. Or should I make sure I have a male escort everywhere I fucking go?
My mate told me his female friend got mugged by junkies outside my goddamn house the other night. What can I do? Buy pepper spray? keep my keys in my hand pointed outwards? Take self defence classes? I’m five foot fucking two. I’ll do those things but if a bigger, more powerful person is intent on badness, I’m stuffed.
As women we are constantly told to “take care”. On the street, at home, in taxis, on the train, in bars, in the workplace. As if we can somehow ameliorate the fucking asshole degenerates from sexually assualting us or harassing us by OUR actions.
For. Fuck’s. Sake. Let’s go to the source, shall we? Let’s teach young boys about respecting women. And footballers, them too. About not feeling entitled or taking advantage. You can’t stop the predatory career rapist who snatches women off street corners until he is caught. But he, the stranger, although terrible, is few and far between. But should we all live our lives in fear? Why is it our responsibilty to go home in pairs, to take license plate numbers, to call a friend etc? Why are WE responsible for making sure we don’t get raped?
I’m going to put it out there and say unless you have been sexually violated, raped etc (and there are totally men out there who have been, which is fucking terrible) you don’t know what you’re fucking talking about. You can’t know the fear, the pain, the everything. SO a paternalistic “take care” means Fuck All.
I have a right to take public transport, be drunk in a taxi on the way home, talk to people in bars and live my life just as any man has. But aside from the stupid Government and police plaitudes I already TAKE CARE. We all do. That line assumes that the poor victim should not have gone to the beach alone. On a week day. During the day. It implies that she did not Take Enough Care. That she was reckless in wanting to live her life and go to the beach as a normal human bloody being, without a troop of brothers or male friends.
As a female who lives alone, this attitude, this careless “pat pat there now” attitude has me riled beyond all belief. How am I supposed to live my life? I can’t take public transport, or walk home alone, or go to the beach solo in the middle of the godamn day. If I didn’t make it home last night after a boozy night with friends, it’s clearly my own fault.
So if you’re going to be about it that way, government, police, etc then I suggest you introduce a new law. Any man who clearly demonstrates he is Not A Rapist (don’t know how but let’s get all 1984 on your asses) has a responsibilty to ensure Every Woman He Knows is not raped. Enforceable by Law. If someone is raped, he is responsible, just like the good old bad old days when wearing a short skirt meant you were “asking for it”.
Food for thought, no?