I blogged earlier about problems with the approaches taken by the student media to violence against women – in particular the fact that expecting women to stop themselves being raped is problematic.
Not only, of course, does this leave the rapist out of the “how do we stop this happening” equation, but it also stops the majority of us who do not use sexual violence having a role to play to keeping our communities safe. Whether we are male or female.
Most importantly though, perhaps, is the fact that this approach leaves women who have been raped – that is, have not successfully avoided it, despite advice – feeling responsible. Victim blaming therefore contributes to survivors recovery and sense of self in very direct ways.
Anyways, I want to take my hat off to Magneto’s editor, David Peters, who after reading that blog, has written this:
This is a complicated subject – and a tricky one to tackle; sexual attacks against drunk women.
Last year, I (David Randall Peters – Magneto Editor) wrote in Magneto that the apparent sense of immunity that young women possess when walking home (following a night of drinking) is down-right daft.
I wrote that “it will happen to someone else” is an attitude as stupid as it is arrogant.
In the same article, I echoed the New Zealand Police’s own ‘Safe in the City’ campaign – “Be careful” (stick with friends).
At the time, this felt a natural conclusion to draw on the subject – I felt that it was responsible to raise the alarm. But here’s the thing; I’d slipped into a trap – as one student pointed out.
Indeed, there’s a bigger picture. The article Koire wrote for print in Magneto [below] points out the flaw in this approach to the matter.
Having read Kiore’s submission, my stance remains that there’s no sense in rendering one’s self prone to sexual attacks by walking home alone – but that this solution is non-holistic and is therefore not an adequate solution. I’m now sure to append that there’s even less sense in suggesting that it is women’s behaviour that is to blame for these attacks – we need to look to men’s attitudes towards women for improvement in this area.
Perhaps you can appreciate what a tricky subject this is?
Read below what Koire wrote in response both to my original comments and similar suggestions in the media at large.
Please feel free to leave a comment below this article – it’s one that could benefit greatly from exploration.
Sexual attacks against drunk women in Wellington are on the rise, and it seems the response to this from reporters and police – and I felt let down to read it from Magneto as well – is to focus on what women are doing that is causing the rise and how they should change their behaviour. These rebukes seem to often be delivered to us by men, but too many women are falling into this short-sighted trap as well. If women going out, getting drunk, being sexually active and taking risks correlates with a rise in assaults against women, then if women stop going out, getting drunk, being sexually active and taking risks those rates will go down again, and surely the ultimate goal here is to reduce attacks against women.
But this doesn’t work, and it won’t stop the problem. Hard drinking and risk taking have been and still are, for better or worse, integral to Kiwi culture – it’s just that it’s only recently that women have actually become part of that defining culture.
To continue reading click here – and big ups David Peters, I am fully impressed with your approach to this.
As the writer of the article that David quotes (though it’s Kiore, not Koire), I was pleased that he chose to run the article despite its criticisms to his own previous publications. I’m also gratified to see that it’s gotten some people thinking about the issue more, and I hope it will stir up some further discussion of the incredibly important, complex issue of male-on-female assault.
I hope to do some further writing for Magneto on similar issues, and will work on polishing my arguments a little more as well!
As someone with an interest in the same area, do you have any suggestions on areas I could discuss, or any constructive criticism on what I’ve already written?
yeah, I agree, it’s good for us all to think about and talk about preventing sexual assault. There is lots to think about – how do we involve men in stopping sexual violence; what attitudes to women feed the idea women should meet men’s sexual desires; what role does active female desire play – ie, if sex can only be imagined with 2 active participants, would sexual violence be reduced? I think so – because at the moment we have an awful hangover of women not pushing men off and screaming being “consent” – ie what did she do to show him she wasn’t interested? Instead of “how did he know she was?”
Mmmm and lots more – this is my fave blogging topic and there’s lots more good stuff out there too.
I loved your response btw 🙂