(Content warning: Discussion of rape and victim-blaming)
- Rape is bad. Everyone with me so far? Are we all in agreement on this? Yes? Good. We’ve got this far, at least.
- Rape is caused by rapists. In other words, if the rapist didn’t rape, the victim wouldn’t have been raped. If rapists just stopped raping people, people would no longer be raped. Still making sense?
- Therefore, rape is not caused by any of the following: Being outside late at night, being outside alone, being outside in certain areas (many of which are totally unavoidable), being outside at all, having a lot of sex, not having a lot of sex, clothing choices, alcohol consumption, being conventionally attractive, etc, etc, etc. Firstly, if rapists ceased to exist, all the above “causes” couldn’t actually cause people to be raped. In short, rape is never the victim’s fault. Secondly, many people somehow avoid all those “causes” yet still suffer rape because, well, they encountered a rapist. Consequently, the answer is not “just avoid dark streets at night”, especially as a lot of people can’t.
- In fact, around 90% of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. So the solution isn’t “get a man to protect you” either, as many of the perpetrators are the very men who are meant to “protect” their victims; that rhetoric is not only false, it’s actually dangerous. Also, men can be raped too, and “you should have been accompanied by a man to protect you” is even more massively illogical when the person you’re talking to, the victim, is a man himself.
- This should be so obvious it frankly needs its own bullet point: Rape is not caused by the victim being unable to fight off the rapist. If the rapist didn’t attack to begin with, the victim wouldn’t have to try and defend themselves. The rape is caused by the rapist. No one should be expected to fight off rapists all the time, let alone be blamed if the fight-back is unsuccessful. In fact, a lack of “fighting back” doesn’t necessarily mean consent; for example, not resisting due to fear is not true consent.
- Joking about rape is really, really harmful; many of these jokes attempt to excuse rape, many make light of the physical and psychological damage to rape survivors, and all perpetuate a culture in which rape is “a fact of life”, normalised, even expected. Also, you never know who’s in your audience – in 2012 alone in the UK, 473,000 adults were victims of sexual offences, and that “harmless” joke could trigger flashbacks and other negative effects in any of them.
- It is entirely possible to have a sense of humour that does not involve joking about rape (or anything else that can massively trigger people). Most people manage this with no problems at all. Standing up to people who joke about rape (etc) is absolutely not the same as “making men walk on eggshells” because a.) it’s really easy to not joke about rape, you just *don’t joke about rape* and b.) again, most men do not joke about rape or even think that would be okay. The same can be applied to the idea of being against sexist jokes generally “making men walk on eggshells”, being against racist jokes “making white people walk on eggshells”, etc, etc. That’s not how it works at all.
- In fact, you know what is “making people walk on eggshells”? Making them scared to go out at night, or go out at all, or drink, or wear what they want, because if they happen to encounter a rapist they will be blamed for the rapist’s actions. In other words, victim blaming. And it has to stop.