Posted by: CeCe | May 4, 2014

Guess who’s back…

I know it’s been months since I’ve updated here, and I don’t want to go into the reasons why because they’re personal. Let’s just say that I went through a lot of transition in my personal life, and due to the upheaval, the last thing on my mind was coming here and writing anything. The thing I most wanted to write about (and still do) is so deeply personal and would hurt people whom I love, and as such, it was unconscionable to come here and try to write about something else. So instead to get beyond my rustiness, because I haven’t written more than a few words the last few months (apart from Facebook updates and such), I may be going over familiar ground but this is something that I wanted to write in order to end my dry streak.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen a few friends share this photo:

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Sigh. Okay, I appreciate the sentiment, but shall I iterate the things wrong with it? No? Too bad, doing it anyway, because I’m an “angry” feminist. 😉

First, why is it about saving a girl’s “dignity”? Excuse me? Do the people who made this caption have any idea how insulting that is? As a sexual assault survivor, I still have my dignity, thank you very much, and I’m sure there are at least a few other survivors out there who would say the same. Being assaulted may change a person inwardly, yes, but it does not destroy their dignity in any shape or form, period. If anyone’s “dignity” is destroyed by sexual assault, it’s the person doing the assaulting, because they’ve revealed themselves as a poor excuse for a human being. A person who has been assaulted has done no such thing. I could go on and on about this and how the idea that a survivor is somehow “less than” after having been assaulted is part of rape culture, but everyone has heard it too many times already. Still, it is rape culture to view a survivor as having lost their “dignity”. It’s that mindset that allows men to stone to death women who have been assaulted. After all, they see women who have been assaulted as being worth less than women who have not been assaulted, and as such, they’ve brought dishonor on themselves and their families. It’s a disgusting attitude, but far too many people seem to have it.

Second, let’s look at the first picture in the graphic, in which the woman is being “attacked” by a man who is approaching her in a threatening manner from the front with his hands outstretched. I don’t know about anyone else, but I wish it was that easy to differentiate between someone who means to cause you physical harm and the person who just wants to holler that they like your butt from their car. Fact is, most women are assaulted by someone they know, and it’s very unlikely that the perpetrator is going to come at them with his hands out to wrap around a victim’s throat.

Finally, while it is important for people to learn self-defense, it is not the be-all/end-all to ensuring one’s safety. There are a multitude of other factors involved, like where one lives and the nature of the crime being committed against them. And the thing is, expecting people to learn self-defense in order to avoid having a crime, any crime, committed against them cultivates a culture in which it’s easy to victim-blame. It is not my responsibility -or anyone else’s for that matter- to avoid having crimes committed against me through the use of self-defense. Urging caution is one thing, and I have no problem with that, but to put all the emphasis on self-defense rather than teaching boys and girls that it is not acceptable to touch someone without their explicit consent perpetuates a culture in which it’s easy to blame the victim and harder to convict the perpetrator. Much like the society in which we currently live, go figure.

Look, I’m all for teaching self-defense to both men and women. But let’s make sure that we understand that it is not going to be effective in every single case, that it’s not about saving a woman’s “dignity”, and that a person is not automatically going to know whether or not another person means them harm.

Thanks as always for reading, all comments are welcome!

 

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Responses

  1. I think my biggest problem with this storyboard is that I wouldn’t be able to go beyond step 3. In fact I’m not sure I could do step 3, no matter what was happening to me. Conflict, violence, deliberately hurting people physically–I don’t do those things. I’m a turn-the-other-cheek type, deep down inside, from the time I was a young child. But the ones who treat the women who curl up and “allow” whatever comes to come like garbage afterwards–the ones who slut shame them, victim-blame them, tell them they had it coming or ask why they didn’t fight to the death to prevent it–they are also in the wrong. Rape culture is all about what women do, should do, shouldn’t do, to avoid being raped. Culture should shame, punish and prosecute only the perpetrators of these crimes. But it’s usually the victim who gets the stigma–they have to choose between that “shame”, and the deeper shame of silence. Because dealing with it in silence only ingrains it deeper. Sad. The attitude that a woman should let an attacker kill her before she lets him rape her is deeply, deeply horrible.


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