I’ve been mulling over this issue in my mind. I still believe there is a middle ground we’re not looking at here.
Yes, there is something very broken in our culture, when rape and assault is considered a valid choice by a portion of the population. Whether it is valid due to a narcissistic view of the world (making the victim simply a 2-dimensional character in an individual’s worldview), or because the perpetrator feels there will be no repercussions doesn’t really matter.
But, women aren’t the only victims of rape, assault or any other form of aggression or criminality.
While I agree with the councilwoman when she says: “ Every woman in the city of New York should feel safe, whether they are coming home late at night, early in the morning, coming from a party, or going to work extremely late.”. But I expand the definition. EVERY PERSON in our culture should be able to feel safe, regardless of gender or race or religious affiliation or lifestyle or sexual orientation.
The reality is, this is not going to happen in our current culture. Too many people feel justified in acting against anyone else, doing whatever they please to another human being. It’s not just criminals, though they are a large portion. It’s the businessman who considers the income of the stockholders is of far more importance than the health or welfare of those who live within a reasonable area of his business. It’s the average person who considers it justified to ignore when a service person gives them too much change (it may not seem like much to us, but the cashier often gets punished for it, because their drawer doesn’t balance at the end of the day – and if it is too much, they can lose their job over it). It’s the professional who speeds down a street, ignoring the safety of pedestrians and other drivers, because they have somewhere important to be. It’s ignoring the fact that our choices have an impact on others.
I believe firmly that there is never any excuse for rape.
But I also firmly believe that one must live with the world they HAVE, while fighting for the world they WANT TO HAVE.
ANYONE walking alone at night, drunk or in some other way considered vulnerable, is going to be prey for the predators out there. Doesn’t matter what their gender is. Is it any better that it is a man who gets violently assaulted, just because the woman got raped? Both issues are a violation of someone’s body autonomy. Is it worse that the police officer judges it is the man’s fault for being in that area, and not being strong enough to fight off his attacker? Law enforcement does that too – not just with women.
How is it that adult bullies get away with their shit, because some law enforcement officer just tells them to “take it outside” – the other guy still gets beat the shit out of, just no damage to the location.
Do we need to fight against victim-blaming? Of course we do! But we need to make sure that while we fight it, we also realize that we cannot have two different standards for violence against people. We cannot ignore personal responsibility in a situation.
If I’m raped, I am NOT going to attack anyone who is attempting to help stop it, or help me after the rape. I’ve also learned my lesson about not reporting being sexually assaulted. I’m not going to let someone get away with assaulting me – because that makes it easier for them to do it to someone else. THAT is personal responsibility.
But if I see a man being kicked the shit out of, I’m ALSO going to not ignore the situation. He’s not any safer just because he’s a man. I may try to keep myself safe, but I’m not going to leave the guy to be killed.
And in the world we live in right now, if I have to walk alone at night, I’m going to make damned sure that I DO NOT look vulnerable or a victim. I’m going to assess the danger around me with every step. And while I rarely get drunk, I’m making damned sure I’m not alone when I am the least bit impaired. I’m going to make sure I’m not ignoring the world around me by staring at my phone or tablet unless I’m in a larger group (and even then, I’m not going to put my attention 100% on my phone or tablet). I’m going to make sure if I’m listening to music, that I have one ear open to the sounds around me. I’m going to be aware of the people around me, particularly making sure I can describe them if I need to.
Do I want a better world? YES. Am I fighting for that better world? YES.
But let’s not ignore that we have to live in the world we have while we build that better world.