Wow! Who would have thought that something as innocuous as suggesting that women be strong and confident and able to defend themselves from an attacker would have set off a feminist firestorm in the media?! This is a movement that has been brewing for quite some time, an evolution in the approach to stemming the epidemic of rape. Scholars and academics seem to have decided that training young men to be respectful is the best way to stop rape. Seriously????
The first time I heard this, I was meeting with an academic who was in charge of school safety at a local college. My organization offers a training program that's designed specifically for girls on college campuses, and it is natural to work directly with the safety and security departments to offer the training. In my mind, it is a no-brainer for all colleges and universities to offer this training. Teach the girls to defend themselves in case they are ever being attacked, give them some skills and tools to get out of a bad situation before it gets worse, and help them understand why it's important to hold their attacker accountable for the crime. Unfortunately, this particular individual had decided to implement a different plan. His notion was that if all of the male students on the campus participated in seminars where they were taught how to be respectful of women, taught what "no" sounds like and taught to listen when they hear it, then rape would magically go away. Oh, and they need to be taught to tattle on any of their friends who do something bad.
It's a perfect plan! Well, almost perfect. It doesn't account for the 1 in 6 girls who are raped before turning 22, it doesn't account for the large percent of them who never tell or pursue justice, it doesn't account for the shame and emotional upheaval caused when a rape occurs, for the self-blaming, for the second guessing. It doesn't account for the "good 'ole boy" system that has existed since the beginning of time and will never really go away; that system that protects star athletes with a coat of teflon from any bad behavior, that system that allows parents with good attorneys to keep their rapist sons from going to jail, that system that keeps university administrators from admitting there's a problem on their campuses, that system that keeps hundreds of thousands of women trapped in abusive relationships. Finally, it doesn't address the simple fact that the girl who has training, the girl who knows how to respond, the girl who can confidently stand up to a potential or actual attacker and hurt him so she can escape, is a much less likely target for a rapist.
Don't get me wrong, I think a larger conversation that includes the vast percentage of men who aren't rapists (#notallmen) is a very important piece of a holistic approach to stopping rape. But it's only one piece of the puzzle, and it needs to happen in conjunction with a punitive system that doesn't play favorites, and effective empowerment programs that teach women (#yesallwomen!) how not to be victimized.
Why is empowering our daughters to be strong and confident not something that the feminist movement is embracing? How in the world is that wrong? In the opinion of this RevvedUpMom, #rapeculture and #feminism need a #realitycheck!