Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Best Friend Rape Prevention.
One of the ongoing kerfuffles in Internet Feminism is the idea of rape prevention advice. On the one hand, it's good to know anything that might keep you from getting raped, right? But on the other hand, some people don't like the slight undertones of "those stupid rape victims, they should have known this stuff!" Or the non-slight undertones of "ladies can't just go outside and interact with the world any old way they'd like, because they're ladies!" Which usually gets countered with "look, it may not be fair, but rapists aren't fair!" And then the comment thread gets really grouchy.
My take on the kerfuffle: I apply all rape prevention advice to one simple test. "Would this protect me from my best friend?" Because that's how it usually goes down, doesn't it? Random goons on the street and invading homes have nothing statistically on friends, dates, and partners.
So let's look at some common rape prevention tips in that light.
-Always be aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone in isolated or poorly-lit settings.
My best friend is right here with me and I'm aware of him.
-Don't get drunk around people you can't trust. Never leave your drink unattended.
I can totally trust my best friend to take care of me if I get smashed, and he'll watch my drink.
-Never pick up hitchhikers. Never, ever get into a stranger's car, and fight them tooth and nail if they try to make you get in the car.
Of course not, but I'll give my best friend a ride. And sure, I'll let him give me a ride.
-Carry mace or a stun gun [or, depending on the politics of the list-writer, a handgun]
I can't shoot my best friend! Maybe, maybe if he gets all "Grrr, I'm going to rape you now," I'll be able to mace or stun-gun him. (Mace, incidentally, is an extremely double-edged sword indoors.) But if his approach is more "I thought you liked this, why are you being so cruel to me?"--or if it's "I'm already basically on top of you and you can barely breathe much less surreptitiously reach for anything"--there's no way I could do it.
Never open the door for a stranger.
Of course not, I opened the door for my best friend.
The fact is, I have no defenses against close friends. I'll let myself be alone with them, I'll get in their cars, I'll fall asleep in their presence, I'll undress in front of some of them--and I wouldn't have it any other way. I trust my friends, and I know that a lot of rape victims also trusted their friends, and I don't think there's anything I can do about this.
(To any friends reading this: I don't mean you, honey! I don't think you're going to rape me! Although that's kind of the point here.)
I could stay safe by treating my friends like strangers, but then they wouldn't be friends, and that's just not worth it to me. I take my chances, and I don't like it when I think about it in this light, but I take my chances and try to choose my friends carefully, and I try really really hard to ferret out and ostracize "she friend-zoned me, but I deserve sex" thinkers, and I think that's all I can do.