The Fifth Column published an article by a rape apologist. Here’s the real story.

 Yesterday, November 24, 2015, The Fifth Column published an article, Why Women Should Take No Precautions Against Rape, by Tara Msiska. Charles Rae responds. 

Washington, DC (TFC) – To be clear: (rape) apologizing is making “a defense in speech or writing of a belief or idea”(rape). Saying that rape is not preventable is rape apologizing. If you can’t prevent something, the logical extension is to let it happen, which is the conclusion that Msiska came to when she said, “As long as you aren’t abducted and kept as a sex slave, sexual assaults are usually over fairly quickly.”

The premise of the article stands as thus: women have been “brainwashed” to expect male violence, and since “rape is impossible to prevent,” women should get over our fears. After all, why are women choosing “the years of self-repression and fear that [they] have to go through as the price of being female, while [our] brothers are free”?

Let’s start with the the fact that my rape would have not occurred if I had, you guessed it, taken precautions against it. A precaution is “a measure taken in advance to prevent something dangerous.” That is all. If I had not trusted male friends so much, as a precaution, I would not have been as vulnerable. Period. Violent and sexual predators prey on weaker people, and women are conditioned to be weak and passive. Even taking the precaution of teaching women how to speak up when they want to say no, would be beneficial.

Msiska didn’t specify which precautions could be beneficial, and which were harmful. She claims women taking precautions in general is a repression of the self. But it’s not. Repression is “the action of subduing someone or something by force”. Men are repressing women with coercion and force, and the threat of force, within rape culture.

In her swing-and-miss article about victim blaming, she manages to center everything around blaming the victim. When women take precautions to prevent the very real threat of male violence and rape, women are repressing themselves?

Women aren’t “brainwashed” into thinking male violence is rampant, it is rampant. It’s not a figment of our imagination, it’s not a fiction or a paranoia. Women exhibit healthy, realistic behaviors by sticking close to girl friends, taking self defense classes, carrying weapons and learning how to stand up for themselves. Msiska’s ideology is akin to telling Syrian families to continue their lives uninterrupted in spite of violence, and furthermore, that they would be repressing themselves by not doing so.

Consider another analogy: you’re black. You live in the time when black people were allowed to vote, but many who had tried experienced violence from white males. Why should black people “self-repress” by being afraid, by taking precautionary measures, why should they arm themselves? ‘Unless they kill you, the beating probably wont last that long anyways.’

This is absurdity. Black power activists in the movement practiced being harassed so they would know how to respond appropriately and with the correct level of forceThey organized to protect themselves, while demanding that the violence stop, and the violent men be held accountable.

Is this to say that women should be blamed for assault if they don’t take precautions, or that it’s their responsibility to stop rape? Absolutely not. Taking steps to protecting yourself and your sisters, and placing the blame and responsibility where it belongs (with rapists) are not mutually exclusive tactics. This is an especially important realization in a world that isn’t actively doing much to stop men from raping or holding them accountable after the fact.

Catch 22’s are the basis of oppression. The catch here is that: if you don’t prepare, you are more vulnerable to violence. If you do: you spend your time worrying, preparing, and avoiding.

The truth is that women don’t repress themselves either way–men are the ones repressing them. Of the two options, taking precautions to navigate the world women live in is the rational option. Women live behind enemy lines.

Msiska also uses the fact that victims aren’t taken seriously as a reprehensible argument to support her beliefs. This is a keystone of contradictory thought. If women are not likely to get justice after the fact, or even be listened to, why would we council women to not take their safety into their own hands?

The article might as well be named “Don’t be afraid of men, and let them rape you.” It’s written without the context of how rape and rape culture shapes our lives, because women want to survive and not be attacked. It also completely negates the fact that many women taking these precautionary measures have already experienced assault and rape.

The tactics being prescribed by Msiska would result in desensitization to rape culture and compliant rape victims. The ultimate finalizing of a rape culture.

To conclude: the article that needs to be written one which discusses tactics within the context of how rampant male violence operates. Since most rapes happen by people women know and/or are close with, what tactics can they use to protect each other? Themselves? Let’s get smart about tactics. Putting precautions in place means women will know exactly what to do when they are in danger.

Image Source: GovernmentZA, Flickr, Creative Commons GCIS's Day of Action Against Rape, 11 Feb 201

Image Source: GovernmentZA, Flickr, Creative Commons
GCIS’s Day of Action Against Rape, 11 Feb 201

Telling women not to take any precautions is unsafe. I advise against it.

Charles Rae writes about power, social justice and law enforcement.