Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Victim-blaming.]

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, the former president of George Washington University and a current professor of public service at the school, was part of a panel of guests on The Diane Rehm show earlier this week, the subject of which was "the roles of fraternities and sororities on campus, which eventually turned into a discussion of the roles these organizations play in promoting rape culture." And here is part of what Trachtenberg had to say:
Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.
Wow. That is a lot of wrong in 81 words.

Saying that women need "to be trained not to drink in excess" is exactly "making the victims responsible for what happens." It also suggests that men are powerless to control themselves around incapacitated women.

Further, saying that women "need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave" also tasks victims with the responsibility for rape prevention.

(And let us note that Professor Trachtenberg just described raping someone as misbehaving.)

The idea that a woman can prevent a man from raping her if only she punches him in the nose is both incredibly offensive and extraordinarily naive. Many women correctly assess that fighting back will only increase their risk of more extensive harm, and failure to "punch a guy in the nose" does not mean that someone being assaulted has failed to protect hirself. In many cases, it is a wise calculation to mitigate the possibility of escalated violence.

And, of course, there is the critical issue that women who use violence to defend themselves are frequently prosecuted.

Trachtenberg concludes by saying "we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard," which, no, for the above reasons, but also I just find that construction so interesting. "Our daughters" and "our children" are not mutually exclusive categories. The more obvious construction would have been "our daughters" and "our sons," but funny how his language here reflects the cultural resistance to teaching men to not rape. "Our sons" don't get singled out for any responsibility at all. And they are instead "our children." Children. Boys. Who will be boys.

This is heinous victim-blaming. There are no circumstances, none, under which a woman's behavior means she deserves to be raped; in which it's okay for a man to rape her.

Drinking to excess does not give someone permission to rape you. The end.

I have been blackout drunk exactly one time in my life. It was my first year at college, and one of my first times drinking. I eventually passed out in the dorm room of my friend Tim. Tim scooped me up and took me down the flight of stairs between our rooms and got my keys out of my pocket and put me to bed.

That's a story plenty of people would use to tell me that I was a lucky fool, instead of to observe that that's precisely the way things should be.

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