Stopping Rape From the Source

Bailey Bush, Business Editor

Wallet, lipstick, keys, smartphone and pepper spray: all items that are supposed to be in my purse.

Not too short of a skirt, not too tight of a top: what I’m supposed to wear in order to not be “asking for it.”

“Don’t get too drunk.”

“Don’t go to frat parties.”

“Always keep a few friends around.”

“Take a few self defense courses.”

“Don’t come across as weak and vulnerable.”

“Carry your keys between your fingers when you walk to the car.”

“Always stay in populated and well-lit areas.”

“Make sure you call me when you get home safely.”

This is the average advice I heard growing up and still hear every day, especially now that I’m about to go to college.

In today’s society, prevention from attack is something that we have to teach girls in order for them to live safely. But why is it our responsibility to prevent something from happening to us?

Shouldn’t the person who is doing the raping be taught not to violate and hurt other people?

From birth, women learn to to appreciate unwanted and rejected advances from men. We’re told that “he’s just being mean to you because he likes you,” that boys can get away with disrespecting us because they want our affection.

In the movies we see a boy try to kiss a girl and she turns her head from his lips (because we assume she is shy and not that she doesn’t want to be kissed) then he kisses her anyway and we think it is sweet because he really wants to kiss her and she must have just been confused and actually did want to kiss him, too. Or we see a man perform a nice gesture or compliment a girl and then she is expected to fall into his arms or perform a sexual favor for him. This is rape culture.

Today when we hear that a woman was raped, instead of asking “What is wrong with him?” “why would he force himself on her?” “did he even know her?”, we ask “what was she wearing?” “do you think she actually wanted it and regretted it after?” “how much did she have to drink?” We excuse the man’s behavior and start victim blaming.

I live in a world of contradictions and too many rules. I have to be nice to a boy who likes me because he is taking his time to notice me.  I have to focus on more than physical attraction but am judged daily on my own appearance. I have to appreciate unwanted advances and accept date offers when I don’t like him, because “it’s the right thing to do.”

But I also have to come across as not too nice.Like someone that can’t be messed with or else I will get taken advantage of. But I also can’t be too rude and decline things I don’t want because then I’m a prude. Or if I do happen to like attention then I’m a slut.

I am expected to be able to protect myself against attacks because it could happen to any young woman. I have to take preventative measures to ensure my safety because a boy can’t control himself.

I wish instead of taking a passive stance and making women protect themselves, boys could be taught not to rape girls. We shouldn’t excuse behavior, especially at young ages, saying, “oh, boys will be boys” when they are rude and violent, we should teach them respect and equality.

It has to start now. We need to teach young boys that if they want something from another person, then the other person has to consent to give it to them. Or, if they like a girl, then they should be nice to her and accept that maybe she doesn’t feel the same, even if they really want her. There needs to be no feeling of entitlement purely based on gender.

In all my years, I’ve not once heard someone tell a boy “control yourself out there,” when every time I walk out of the house I’m told to be safe and careful and aware.

It all starts with equality, when women are treated as equals then men won’t see them as something they can take advantage of. Respect. When that day comes no one will have to be told to step out of their routine, but until then we need not to prevent attacks but stop them at the source.

“You don’t want to be a victim.”

How about “you don’t want to be a rapist”?