This space has had radio silence for quite some time now (which I apologize for!) but it’s time to get back on the blogging wagon and this topic lit a fire in me to write.
Recently I have seen a lot of things in the media regarding “rape prevention”, “rape culture”, and “victim blaming”. I’ve also seen people trying to do more to protect women and empower them a little bit more, which inevitably ends up being turned back around to victim blaming instead of the intention in which these things were created.
Students at North Carolina State University worked to create a nail polish that would change color when in contact with date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol. It may not be perfect yet, as it is something that would have to be worn when in any situation a drink could be spiked, and it’s not yet in the stages it would be sold to the public, but it is a possibility on the horizon. It would give women more power to keep themselves safe. That’s the bottom line. Unfortunately, the detractors came out of the woodwork like roaches. Their arguments are that it puts the onerous on the woman to keep herself safe when she shouldn’t have to, that it’s victim blaming and not telling men not to rape. I’ve also read that it’s not good enough because it wouldn’t be free to all women. What is free in this world we live in?? I have to pay for pepper spray or a whistle or a gun. Of course people would have to pay for this nail polish. But it seems to me it would be money well spent.
This morning I was watching the news and there was a segment regarding self-defense for women returning to college campuses. Bad things happen to people who don’t pay attention. Do NOT get me wrong, I am far from a victim blamer. What I’m saying is that our bodies are the only ones we are going to have and we need to be responsible by protecting them. When people are on their phones or listening to music instead of paying attention to their surroundings or drinking so much they have no idea what the reality is around them, they’re putting themselves in a situation for dangerous things to happen. I live in a college town and we certainly see our share of assaults. Three years ago a young woman, who had unfortunately been drinking quite heavily, disappeared from our town. She has still not been located. This is a terrible tragedy and one you never want to see happen.
The problem is that when it’s mentioned that she was drinking people immediately want to jump up and say that shouldn’t matter, that she should not have had something happen to her just because she was drinking. I completely agree, something bad should have never happened to her, but that doesn’t make it any different. We live in a world where bad things happen, where terrible tragedies are perpetrated daily whether drunk or not. Watching how much you drink, using a color changing nail polish (in the future) or just plain always having a sober person with you to keep you safe, are all things that can be done to make the odds of a bad outcome so much lower.
I have continually seen articles and opinions stating that women shouldn’t have to be educated on keeping themselves safe, but that men should be educated not to rape. That thinking is flawed for two reasons. One, a woman’s safety should be her responsibility, not left to the men around her. If we are going to empowered, we have to be educated and aware and ready to meet whatever things come at us, including someone wanting to do us harm. Second, rape is rarely just an act of sex. Rape is a crime of power. We can preach don’t kill, don’t steal, and don’t rape all we want but that isn’t going to stop the people who are committing these crimes from continuing to commit them.
You better believe I will be teaching my son to respect women, to respect himself, and to never put himself in a situation where there could even be the allegation of harm against a woman. I will also be teaching my daughter self-defense, to always have her wits about her, to carry pepper spray when out alone at night, and to know that it will never be her fault if she is assaulted. Empowering our young women to know it’s okay to have power for themselves is never a bad thing.