AlterNet has a round-up of responses to the latest blame-the-victim article much-discussed yesterday in the femisphere. Mike the Mad Biologist also weighs in with Hemlines Don't Rape People, Rapists Do. Naturally, the immediate comments in both places were of the "compare women being raped with men getting mugged" variety. This was my favorite:
I think a lot of what is be considered "blaming the victim" in the feminist world is really just pointing out the obvious: that the behavior that leads up to it is sometimes flat out stupid and irresponsible. In an abstract moral sense, a woman certainly should be able to do whatever she wants, including getting drunk in the early morning hours and walking around inebriated in the streets of Boston and New York. And also in an abstract moral sense, I should be able to walk around those same places in the middle of the night with a $500 watch and $50 bills hanging out of every pocket. The thing is, if I do that, I'm a fucking idiot. And no one would hesitate to tell me.To which I responded: "It's always so charming to see the wanton and unwanted abuse of my body compared to property theft. Honestly, I can't even begin to tell you how much you don't get it if you can construe a woman walking alone and inebriated with a man walking alone with valuables hanging out of his pocket. If you want an honest comparison, here's one: And also in an abstract moral sense, I should be able to walk around those same places in the middle of the night and not expect to have someone incapacitate me and cut my dick off. The reason that doesn't leap to your mind is because men's bodies aren't considered community property for the taking as soon as they get drunk, like women's bodies. Or visible $50 bills."
That defenders of the "rape aversion advice rooted in women's behavior restriction" inevitably rely on the "guy getting mugged" comparison tells us two things. One: It shows how deeply ingrained the notion of women's bodies as property is. Comparing a woman's genitals to a $50 bill visibly dangling out of a man's pocket is laughable in both practical and intrinsic ways, and yet such associations are routinely cited with not a hint of awareness at their patent absurdity. Two: It illustrates how far removed men are from the real threat of rape. Invoking a mugging is evidently the closest thing many men can imagine to being forcibly subjected to an assault on one's sex organs, which has got to be a lovely world in which to live.
Apparently it doesn't occur to the conjurers of the "guy getting mugged" comparison that women generally try to avoid being mugged, too, and thusly might also be credited with concurrently trying to avoid being raped. Why on earth would they engage in high-risk behavior like walking home alone while inebriated then? one might ask, presuming, as are we all expected to do, that walking home alone while inebriated is, in fact, a high-risk behavior. Yet, considering that lots and lots of men and women go home alone after a few drinks every single night all across America, and the vast majority of them are not the victims of any type of crime, it seems to me that it should be properly considered a low-risk behavior. That, however, is ever a most scandalous thing to suggest, undermining as it does the ability to accuse women of engaging in high-risk behavior when they have the unmitigated temerity of doing something people do all the time without getting victimized.
Worse yet, someone might actually notice that women are three times more likely to be raped by someone they know than a stranger, and nine times more likely to be raped in their home, the home of someone they know, or anywhere else than being raped on the street. We might be forced to start talking about this stuff in a place vaguely resembling reality, instead of inside the shared delusion that the biggest problems for women are their own silly behaviors and crazed strangers.
Also: The Rape of Mr. Smith.