A friend of mine emailed me today with some questions regarding an issue that plagues our entire nation – rape on college campuses. A lot of people have had a lot of things to say on the topic, and he and I were just going over some ideas on rape prevention, such as concealed weapons on campus and evasion tips for women to utilize. Readers, I trust you all to be brilliant minds with thoughts and ideas regarding this issue, so read on and see what we discussed.
I wanted to know your opinion on something. Earlier this week, Colorado representative Joe Salazar made these remarks concerning women carrying guns on college campuses:
I am not as concerned with the fact that these words were said during a debate about Colorado’s campus carry laws, but more so with the words that he said concerning a woman’s ability to defend themselves with a firearm.
Also, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs had a page (http://www.uccs.edu/pusafety/what-to-do-if-you-are-attacked-.html) that gave recommendations to women for what to do if they are being raped. The original material on their website has been taken down since it was discovered by many sources and they replaced it with a message stating that the tips were taken out of context. I was not able to access the original material before it was taken down to verify this, but here are the tips:
1) Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.
2) Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead! It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away.
3) Kick off your shoes if you have time and can’t run in them.
4) Don’t take time to look back; just get away.
5) If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.
6) Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.
7) Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.
8) Yelling, hitting or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it!
9) Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm.
10) Remember, every emergency situation is different. Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.
I just want to know what you think about all this as I know that you are very compassionate about the rights of women. I’m not looking to out you or use anything you say against you for my benefit or anything like that. Your the most vocal woman that I know in Colorado for women’s rights and I’m interested to know what you think. I know I facebook bombed you, but I don’t have your email address. Sorry for that. You can get back to me at ———@gmail.com. Please take your time with any response and if you need me to clarify anything I’ve said, just ask.
Here was my reply.
Hey Don (name is changed),
No sweat about Facebooking this to me. I am very passionate in this sort of thing (obviously).
Now, since most cases of molestation and rape are between two people who know each other, these tips will mostly likely not come in to play as often as tips for avoiding date rape, being roofied, sexual coercion, and the like. I think that is the bulk of the problem – blind attacks actually make up a small percentage of rape and rape attempts, so it doesn’t necessarily address the problem as a whole. But at least it does address the problem.
In the situation where a stranger does jump out of a dark alley, I think that all of these are helpful tips (the one about the shoes seemed weird, I don’t know if that would actually do any good, but whatever works). Everyone has ideas on how to evade an attacker, and it’s not the sort of thing in which people get a chance to “practice” and see which ones are the most effective. Different things will prove effective in different situations.
The fact that people are putting so much thought behind what methods women should use both pleases and concerns me. It pleases me because it shows concern over the problem and a desire to help. It also troubles me because it strikes me as the wrong angle towards rape prevention. In my opinion, the best way would be to stop rape at the source – the rapist. How to we keep rapists from raping? It’s a tough question, but a first step would probably be to readjust sex education and patriarchal thought. I know some people are just mentally sick, so there should be other steps as well. More security, perhaps, a policy of stricter penalty for convicted rapists, and not ignoring rape kits. Having universities drastically re-vamp their policy towards rapists and victims. http://www.thenation.com/blog/172299/no-justice-college-rape-victims#
Regarding women carrying guns, I actually agree with the speaker in the video. While I understand why some people think it would make women safer, I believe that the reality is that carrying a gun does not always equate defeating the bad guy. Guns are a chaotic neutral, and they will fire for whoever shoots them. A solitary person, thinking he/she is going to be attacked, may panic and misfire. Civilians may not be able to cope with the pressure of a real emergency and misfire or worse, as I understand it requires a lot of training to use a gun calmly in intense real-life situations. Someone may panic at the thought of being raped, and actually shoot someone who was going to ask her for a dollar. If she is attacked, the rapist may be able to overtake her and use the gun against her. Furthermore, if the police arrive, it makes things complicated as they don’t know if the person with the gun is the victim or not. Of course, there are situations that it may help the victim. But I don’t think that the possibility she could protect herself with a gun outweighs the other possible outcomes.
Call boxes, rape whistles, safe zones, they are all good things that should remain implemented. But I think the first step is to do whatever it takes to stop people from turning rapist and the problem will be solved.
I’m really pleased that you’re interested in this.
Talk to you soon,
So, that’s what I came up with after thinking about it for five minutes and writing back. What do you guys think?
*If at any point I missed that these sources are insinuating that a woman inherently can’t protect herself or use a gun properly, I would like to state for the record that those thoughts are sexist microaggressions. I do believe, however, that it applies to both men and women correctly. Not everyone, man or woman, can be on their toes all the time or will always be mentally prepared to use a gun in an emergency situation while walking back from the student union after dinner, bopping to their headphones and thinking about their chemistry final.
Please comment with any ideas (or problems you may see with mine). It’ll take a movement of many to put these things in motion.
“Now we walk along the same street, in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us. No one whistles. There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”
-Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale