Feminism, Sarcasm, Buddhism... you know; girl talk.
I have been working in the field of victim’s rights for a few years now and have done my fair share of reading and debating over the issue of sexual assault. I recently had a revelation that has been very helpful to me when dealing with victim blaming, and I would like to share it with you.
Our society believes wholeheartedly that the status known as “not being raped” is a privilege, not a right. Sadly, this is not a view held only by misogynists, rapists and batterers- instead it is one that I have heard pastors, social workers, medical professionals and even co-workers espouse.
Here’s how “Not Being Raped” (NBR) works:
Modestly dressed Sunday School Teacher? Congratulations, you deserve NBR!
Drunk at a frat party? No NBR for you.
Commit a crime? Well, you just lost your NBR.
Americans are very comfortable with the concept of Not Being Raped as a privilege. We love it! We talk about the loss of NBR as a good crime deterrent, as a consequence for promiscuity and as a logical outcome of associating with non-[fill in the blank with the conservative religion of your choice] men.
Not Being Raped is not a privilege. It is a right. All human beings have the right to not be raped. This means that no action, association, belief or crime should ever cause someone to lose that right.
Now, we all have responsibilities. One of your responsibilities is to limit your vulnerabilities. (LYV) Examples of practicing LYV include locking your doors, being aware of your surroundings and keeping track of your belongings. But failure to practice LYV does not lead loss of NBR. Let me say that again; irresponsible choices, acts that increase our vulnerability, DO NOT remove our right to not be raped.
This is very, very simple. Either the state of “not being raped” is a privilege or a right. If you believe it is not a right, then you have given rapists your permission to enjoy the status of vigilante- dutifully distributing justice to all the sluts, criminals and deviants of the world who failed to limit their vulnerabilities. If it is a right, then we can feel confident when we educate people about limiting their vulnerabilities that we are not participating in rape culture by insinuating (or blatantly stating) that failure to limit one’s vulnerabilities is an invitation to rape.