Dear Ladies: Please Stop Getting Yourselves Raped

Finding an article like the recently discussed "Should women be more responsible?" on the BBC website is all kinds of infuriating. When Amanda emails you a heads-up about a similar article, and it's from Women's eNews, that's the kind of thing that would make you tear your hair out, if only your hands weren’t occupied setting to work blogging about it.

Amanda's already done a very thorough fisking of "Underage Women Sidle Up to Barroom Risks", including some important background on a couple of its key players, and Jill, Sheelzebub, Violet, Echidne, Rox, and Ann are on it, too. I don't even know what I could say about the content that I haven't said a dozen (a hundred? a thousand? a billion?) times before (see here and here, for a start). I am, as ever, decidedly unimpressed with an article that seeks to blame women who drink at "ladies' nights" should they be raped and murdered—a possibility presented with all the subtlety of a slasher film.

In this approximately thousand-word article, the word rape appears three times, and the words murder, homicide, abducted, and disemboweled appear once each. One of the section headers says, ominously, "70,000 Date Rapes a Year". Those, I guess, are the "barroom risks" of which the article title speaks, as opposed to, say, the people who commit the acts—people who might also be drinking at "ladies' nights," in spite of not being ladies. The acts/risks are referenced abstractly, as if they are somehow eternal, like God maybe. Before man and woman, there was Rape, and Rape said, "Let there be life so that I might ruin it."

In a second homicide that summer in the city involving a young woman who had been drinking to excess, 18-year-old Jennifer Moore left one of the city's most exclusive lounges intoxicated. Walking alone in the early morning hours along the city's West Side Highway, she was abducted and raped. Two days later she was found disemboweled in a dumpster in Weehawken, N.J.
She was abducted and raped and she was found disemboweled in a dumpster, all because she had been drinking to excess and was walking alone while intoxicated. No trace of the person who actually abducted, raped, and murdered her anywhere. He is absent while his crime haunts the article like an menacing specter. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you're going to write an article about minimizing the "barroom risk" of assault against women, perhaps you ought to consider actually discussing the assaulters, too.

Though somewhere between 69,999 and 70,000 of those "70,000 Date Rapes a Year" (which refers only to the number of "alcohol-related date rapes a year … among students aged 18 to 24") are committed by men, this article uses woman/women 22 times, she/her 9 times, girl(s) 6 times, female twice, and ladies twice. Man/Men/He/Him/His/Male/Guy(s) combined are used 14 times. Four women are quoted; one man is quoted—the author of an article entitled "Girls exchange dignity for attention in trendy clubs." Yeesh. I guess we're meant to believe that it is just the victims who have been drinking and none of the rapists in those 70,000 alcohol-related date rapes every year—and that if only those victims had all been sober instead, none of those rapes would have happened. My rape, during which I was stone cold sober and my rapist's breath tasted of gin, was obviously the only one of its kind. I deserve a trophy or some shit.

"I'd like to thank my rapist, without
whom this never would have happened…"

Ah, the truth in jokes, yes? Left to my own devices, I never would have been raped. The rapist was really the key component to the whole thing. I was sober; hardly scantily clad (another phrase appearing once in the article), I was wearing sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt; I was at home; my sexual history was, literally, nonexistent—I was a virgin; I struggled; I said no. There have been times since when I have been walking home, alone, after a few drinks, wearing something that might have shown a bit of leg or cleavage, and I wasn't raped. The difference was not in what I was doing. The difference was the presence of a rapist.

Enough blaming the victim. Enough.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus