Another week another piece regarding women, alcohol and rape. Mia Freedman posted an article suggesting women can prevent sexual assault by avoiding drinking. She explores the fact that women put themselves in danger via alcohol and being out late. She is also quoted in an earlier interview stating that ”You should be able to leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition, or leave your front door unlocked, and expect nobody to burgle you.” As if comparing the female body to a cars is a completely valid point.
Whenever women are continually instructed to undergo certain behaviour to avoid rape, there is a detraction of the responsibility of rapists, contributing to an underreporting of sexual violence, and the encouragement of a rape tolerant society. The emergence of an ideology which blames the individual for her or his sexual assault proposes that, instead of blaming the perpetrator the individual should take more responsibility for not being assaulted. This is something that has been far too dominant in our media of late, in high profile cases where the women are belittled for being out late without their partner, or being drunk underage. At risk behaviour is seen as a problem and telling females this as the solution.
Let me state the obvious. I, my mother, my sister, and my beautiful friends should all have the right to go out, drink, wear what they want and not be raped. Why aren’t we telling men to stop drinking in order to stop raping? Most rapes occur by a person known to the victim. By publicising these kind of ignorant views we are simplifying a woman’s grief. No female has brought anything on herself.
The reality is for most women it’s not about ‘how not to get raped’ it’s about the long painful journey to recover from already being assaulted. A huge part of this journey is learning not to blame oneself and these kind of publicised statements about women drinking less does nothing but shame and inhibit an individuals right to realise that it is NEVER her fault. We need to send victims of assault a clear message which counters the myth that their individual behaviour somehow encouraged this to happen to them. The reason that so many assaults go un-reported is down to the fact that there is a legal system that seldom supports to them, alongside at many points, a society. Women need to explore the fears, anxieties and years of recovery that follow an assault with out fear of blame or judgement.
Women drinking is not the problem, the sooner we realise this the sooner we can start the long battle of trying to combat a society where too many people think that other peoples bodies are for the taking.
There is only one thing that causes rape, and that is rapists.