Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Safety tips for ladies

Last week there were a series of black humor #safetytipsforladies on Twitter. Here are some of my personal favorites:

What's so great about this meme is that it is a response to the idiotic advice for women, suggesting that if only women wore the right hair styles, for example, they'd decrease their chances of being raped:
As we've seen before, targeting rape prevention advice at women can start off as empowering, and slowly descend into crippling—or worse, preemptive victim blaming. I don't know—maybe it's because I hesitate to take the advice of convicted rapists. But something tells me that it might be more worthwhile focus our efforts on the rapists who rape people, instead of burdening every woman with paranoia, hairstyle advice, and unnecessary umbrellas. 
TIP #1: DON'T GROW OUT YOUR HAIR.The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle.. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman
with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.
Yes: rapists are administering hairstyle advice now. As a woman with short hair—I told my stylist to give me the 'Ol Rape-Proof Cut w/ Blow Dry—I find this tidbit a bit counter-intuitive (and vaguely insulting). I'm sure some potential rapists must consider us short-hairs too masculine, sexless, or gay to bother to grab. On the other hand, there are those rapists who think that a good forced entry is all we need to become real women. So, I don't know—wear a hat? 
TIP #2: DON'T WEAR ANYTHING THAT CAN BE CUT BY A SCISSOR.The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who's clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around specifically to cut clothing.
Good thing I invested in a full wardrobe of rubber overalls this year. Sure, only wearing clothes that cannot be cut off—much less manually removed!—from your body may make you more resistant to heat stroke and/or drowning. Ask yourself: Do I really need to be leaving the house today?
And it turns out that this advice has been for the most part debunked by snopes:

If rapists choose their victims based on hairstyle and length of tresses, it's news to those in law enforcement; they've never noticed this trend. Rape victims have short hair, long hair, and no hair. They're also young and old, short and tall, fat and skinny, femininely dressed or looking like they just fell off the tractor, and all points in between.  
Likewise, the claim that rapists go after women wearing overalls because "the straps can be easily cut" is pure hogwash, as anyone who has ever tried to cut up an old pair can attest. Overalls are made of some of the most resilient fabrics known to mankind (denim and canvas, usually), and cutting these straps is made almost impossible because the fabric is doubled over and seamed at that point in the garment. If there's a pair of scissors that can snip through this, I've yet to wield them.

A couple of months ago one of my newer Facebook friends posted the debunked rape advice on her timeline, and as gently as I could, in a personal email, told her that they had been debunked.

Eventually when she posted the link to snopes, one of her Facebook friends objected, in the comments thread. I then got into a debate with him - an older man - and eventually he stated that debunked or not, those were good anti-rape tips and it was about time that women took responsibility for what happened to them. Your typical classic victim-blaming attitude, which, it turns out, is still plenty common even among presumably liberal people.