The Apologists' Trap

[Trigger warning for harassment and violence.]

Over at Geek Feminism Blog, Mary's got a great post about the responses to Valerie's conference anti-harassment policy, specifically the responses that dismiss the policy by some variation on the theme, "Why don't women just hit men who harass them?" Mary lays out many of the reasons why that response is victim-blaming bullshit which charges targets of harassment with its prevention.

I'll just note one point in addition to her highly recommended piece: The assertion that violence is an appropriate response to harassment is made by people (usually men) who make it explicitly because they are auditing the responses of people who are harassed (usually women) and find them lacking. People who feel entitled to audit others' responses to harassment don't stop auditing even if their recommendations are taken, which means, in practical terms, that a woman who takes their advice and responds to harassment with violence will not be commended, but judged, her actions investigated to see if the (previously recommended) violence was warranted.

Spoiler Alert: It never will be.

This is a trap created by apologists (of rape, violence, and harassment of women). They position themselves as arbiters and then use that position to create rules the adherence to which is inevitably impossible by their reckoning.

"Hit him if he harasses you" is a trap by virtue of the fact that its proponents will always, unfailingly, argue the harassment wasn't really harassment at all, or not so much that it warranted the violence they allegedly endorsed. "Hit him if he harasses you" is designed to turn every woman who follows its recommendation into an over-reactionary hysteric.

Auditors audit. The only way to deny traction to apologists is to never take their recommendations in the first place.

Even if responding to harassment with violence was objectively a good idea (which it isn't), it would still be foolish to adopt a policy that plays right into the hands of people with a vested interest in finding women at fault, so that dangerous men are unencumbered by any responsibility to stop being dangerous.

[Related Reading: Five Reasons Why "Teach Women Self-Defense" Isn't a Comprehensive Solution to Rape.]

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