This is a continuation of a previous blog post. I’ve been sitting on it for a while. Even before I wrote it, it was eating at my mind. If you’re wondering, yes, it’s also a response to an argument I had. An argument where I gave in when I should have said we’ll have to agree to disagree. Best I can do now is get this out there.
Telling your daughter one-on-one not to overdrink is one thing. Addressing it to the female population at large is different.
It tells people that this should be the general rule, for women to follow, to stop causing their own violation. The people who would perpetrate this violence are emboldened by this. The rules haven’t changed after all. It’s still buyer (drinker/partier) beware out there, otherwise they wouldn’t be telling women to hold back, right? It’s just a force of nature, the violence that happens to women in these situations.
It’s one thing to tell someone not to walk into a dark alley. This goes for everyone. Anyone here can be victim or perpetrator. Directing this talk to women alone posits men as the perpetrators. This is the lingering cultural influence we are fighting. It’s the person who genuinely believes it’s OK for him to take advantage of an inebriated woman. That’s just how it is. To the victor go the spoils, right? You’re just a boy being a boy (even if you’re age of majority - apparently “boys” are molesters by nature). There are people out there who actually need to be told this is not right.
You say you want to wait until the culture changes? The outrage you’re hearing is the sound of the culture changing, and that yet you’re trying to quiet it down.
What I’m hearing is people poking and nudging their daughters back into the closet, with empty promises of future cultural changes.
So what if we do take these kinds of measures - drink less, wear short hair or hats, stop wearing skirts, carry a baton wherever we go, only go out during the day, stop taking taxis…..? Things are going to keep getting added to the list. We could be wearing burqas and never leaving the house at all. Abuse will continued, because sexual abuse is a decision, not an act of nature. The perpetrators will simply find other ways to abuse, because the culture has not put the onus on them.
What I am saying is that culture is quite possibly the most important factor in this. When we hear about places around the world where rape victims get stoned to death or girl children are killed because families wanted sons, it’s not because those activities are legal in those places (many times, they are not), it’s because the culture is that strong.
It’s easy to think that telling women what to do and not do is the way to help them. In fact, that’s how we approach a lot of problems. You would think that all anyone ever needed was to be given their marching orders in life. Unfortunately, we do have to get hands-on with the problem itself. Part of that is to stop rationalizing these behaviors just because we don’t want to think that the perpetrators are capable of them. Part of the problem is that many people think it’s acceptable to act in this way because nobody speaks out about it. These may well be non-malevolent (if not-too-bright) people who have been cultivated to think these actions are actually more or less forgivable. Then when they find out it really isn’t OK, it comes as more of a shock than it should. It’s the same with bullying in general - culture accepts it, and so it is used for all it is worth.
Changing attitudes is the most effective thing we can do to combat these problems. This is the root of the problem.