We live in a CITY, girls!

Come on, Georgetown students. We live in D.C. It’s an urban area, so SOMEONE’S going to get assaulted. Don’t let it be you!

At least, that’s what the students and reporters in this video seem to think:

http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0510/734072_video.html

Unfortunately, I can’t embed this video because it’s a Flash plugin and I’m using a free blog writer – whoops. Definitely click the link, though. You can follow along with some of my favorite quotes below!

“Keep in mind, the victim was walking around by herself. It was late at night, and victims are urging young people to be careful out there.”

“There are no walls separating us from the rest of the city, and I think students forget that sometimes.”

“Most students agree there is a disconnect about taking precautions on an urban campus, and unless that changes, young people will be at risk.”

“I’m sure there are some people who don’t take proper precautions. It’s unfortunate.”

But no mention of, “HEY WACKOS – STOP ATTACKING GEORGETOWN STUDENTS.” Nope, just “HEY GIRLS – DON’T GO OUTSIDE AT NIGHT.” Because telling me not to live my life is a much better solution than telling people not to break the damn law or have respect for other human beings.

“…they’re [the University] urging young people, especially women, not to walk alone at night, to take a taxi if necessary – ANYTHING – to stay safe.”

So, where are you guys at 2am?

Is it the library? That’s where I am. So is one of my best friends. She lived in LXR this year. Should she take a cab two blocks? Should she call a DPS officer every single night? What about my friend who worked on The Hoya and walked back from Leavy at 4am? Do we blame her if she gets assaulted because she was “walking around by herself” and “it was late at night?”

Wouldn’t you rather DPS were doing things like finding criminals instead of walking me home?

We live in a city, though. I keep forgetting. Someone’s going to get sexually assaulted – but it’s not because I stay in the library until 2am. It’s because ABC News and selected Georgetown students are blaming me for not taking the proper precautions. Sure, we’ll prosecute that guy if we find him – but come ON. That girl TOTALLY shouldn’t have been out by herself. Isn’t it kind of her fault, too, that someone fucking attacked her on 33rd street?

OH, and don’t forget to tell that to the girl who got assaulted in the Copley staircase. That girl TOTALLY shouldn’t have been walking down the stairs by herself. Don’t be the student who “doesn’t take precautions” – bring a buddy to do laundry in your own dorm! Better yet, CALL A TAXI! CALL DPS!

Sexual assault happens everywhere. It happens in cities and in rural areas, on 33rd street and in your GOcard-protected dorm. Instead of telling women what they can and cannot do, try reinforcing the idea that women are human beings, not objects to be dominated. Let’s protect women – and men – by reevaluating the way we examine sexual assault. Because this whole “we live in a city argument” is utter bullshit. You’re not unsafe because you live in a city. You’re unsafe because there are criminals.

There is nothing wrong with you.

    • Eileen
    • May 24th, 2010

    I agree to an extent. It’s not a woman’s fault that someone chooses to make her the victim of sexual assault.

    But if you take the sex part out of this story and change it simply to taking preventative measures against any kind of violent crime, would you honestly have the same objections? Of course if all people behaved according to the law there would be less crime, but given that they don’t, everyone – men, women, children, whoever – should take safety precautions. I lock the doors to my house at night or when I go out, and if I’m not in my car, I lock its doors and close its windows as well. As do my male friends. I do walk outside alone at night, even in the city (and have never been assaulted), but I also try to make a point to be more aware of my surroundings than I would be during the day.

    There are a lot of people who live in a city. Most of them follow the law, but there are enough who don’t that everyone should take precautions that we wouldn’t have to in a world without crime. Sexual assault is especially a problem because it’s one of the most underreported forms of violent crime, which means a lot of the time, the police can’t even TRY to catch the criminal.

      • maraalyse
      • May 24th, 2010

      Eileen-

      I think you make several good points, but I also think you’re simplifying the problem.
      “…if you take the sex part out of this story and change it simply to taking preventative measures against any kind of violent crime, would you honestly have the same objections?” Honestly? Yes. Remember when people’s houses got broken into? Everyone was like, “it’s because their back doors weren’t locked.” NO. They didn’t get robbed because their doors weren’t locked, they got robbed because some creeps went around looking for trusting people. I lock my back door at night because I want to do what I can to keep these people away, but ultimately, locking my door does not prevent me from getting robbed. Not walking alone at night doesn’t prevent me from being assaulted. What we have to remember is acting as if it’s women’s faults not only prevents the problem from getting solved, but also convinces victims they caused the problem – which isn’t true.

      “Sexual assault is especially a problem because it’s one of the most underreported forms of violent crime, which means a lot of the time, the police can’t even TRY to catch the criminal.” – you’re right, but it’s hard to tell women and men to report sexual assault when they’re essentially getting blamed for it. Obviously, I wish more people would, but there’s only so much one could say…

        • Eileen
        • May 26th, 2010

        I agree that it’s not a victim’s fault if he or she is attacked in any way – but I don’t think that encouraging people to be careful is equal to blaming them for being victims. It’s not always done in the most appropriate way, granted, but I don’t think that the intent is always to blame the victim.

        As for reporting sexual assault…I think that victim-blaming is perpetuated in part by victims who don’t report the crime the way they would any other violent crime. Fear of being blamed causes them to act as though they’re ashamed of what has happened to them, which makes other people think that it’s normal to be ashamed of having been sexually assaulted. (And then of course there’s the oft-quoted fact that most sexual assaults are committed by the same small group of assailants, which might just become smaller if enough of their victims came forth)

    • Ziggy
    • May 25th, 2010

    Taken to its logical conclusion, though, your argument would imply that any recommendation that people take steps to deter crime by making themselves less appealing targets is wrong and victim-blaming.

    • Ziggy
    • May 25th, 2010

    Taken to its logical conclusion, though, your argument would imply that any recommendation that people take steps to deter crime by making themselves less appealing targets is wrong and victim-blaming.

    You say:
    Remember when people’s houses got broken into? Everyone was like, “it’s because their back doors weren’t locked.” NO. They didn’t get robbed because their doors weren’t locked, they got robbed because some creeps went around looking for trusting people. I lock my back door at night because I want to do what I can to keep these people away, but ultimately, locking my door does not prevent me from getting robbed.

    So then why do you lock your doors? Isn’t that just accepting the premise that it’s your job to keep people from robbing you? Shouldn’t you institute a total open-door policy instead? Of course not. The crime is always the fault of the criminal, but criminals are out there – and in a city, in higher concentrations. Criminals typically prey on targets of opportunity. For that reason, it IS prudent to take steps to make yourself less of a target of opportunity, whether that means locking your doors, not stumbling around drunk by yourself at 3 am on a dark street (male or female), not wearing a bunch of expensive flashy jewelry in public, etc. When we caution against picking up hitchhikers and against meeting people you only know through the internet in isolated areas, I don’t think its because we believe you deserve what happens to you or its your fault. We just believe these to be prudent precautions, given the severity of what could (probably won’t, but could) occur.

    In other words: if I get mugged because I took a jog through Trinidad at night with a $100 bill hanging out my back pocket, it is still the fault of the mugger, of course. I should be able to take a jog without fearing for my safety. But it still isn’t a very prudent course of action.

    The message that violence against women – and not just women – is unacceptable is one that can’t be trumpeted enough. But there is a segment of the population – the predators out there – who will not be dissuaded by Take Back the Night and things like that. It’s not like they (the predators specifically, I know there are many different types of perpetrators) don’t know what they’re doing is wrong and a crime. And you’re absolutely right, taking all manner of precautions does not guarantee that you will not be victimized. But to say that taking precautions has no place at all… that’s going too far. I understand the reasoning behind it, but I don’t think its practical to ignore the real-world reality of crime.

  1. Ya you bring up great points! I mean its unfortunate that someone tried to attack this girl but the reality is that most women on campus will be sexually assaulted in their dorms or apartments or the dorms of a friend!

    I lived in a corner apartment of Village B last year right by the library, so walking from the library to my apartment took all of maybe 2 minutes, I absolutely thought it would be ridiculous to call DPS to walk me from the library steps to my front door.

    If the campus wanted to take a practical safety precaution maybe it would let the GUTS bus ran until the metro closed like American does, then perhaps we students wouldn’t have to walk from the metro stop to our dorms at 2AM on Saturday nights.

    Its fairly interesting how spaces for people are regulated and how they’re expected to behave at night.

    Here in Japan, its a social norm/expectation that there is absolutely nothing odd about a woman (or a man) walking home alone at night, its not seen as particularly dangerous since crime rates are quite low here.

    • Alan Shore
    • May 25th, 2010

    Yes, because telling people to stop sexually harrasing women will get them to stop.

    It’s very easy to just criticize a tactic. Proposing a viable solution is another thing entirely.

    First thing, I’m fairly certain when people say to not be walking alone, they never meant the Copley steps. Walking through Prospect past 34th at 4 am, that’s an entirely different story.

    Second, while you are technically correct in that “they got robbed because some creeps went around looking for trusting people” you’re missing the point. YOU know that there are people out there looking for trusting kids who dont lock their doors. Knowing this, its your fault if you keep your door unlocked. There are always going to be thieves, not acting accordingly because you shouldn’t have to is not a valid strategy.

    Third, sexual assault is a very hard crime to solve. DPS simply doesn’t have the resources to do, well, pretty much anything. Placing any further burden on them is simply pointless. Demanding results from the police force will get you no results either. They are not going to spend resources on crimes that wont be solved and suspects they can’t catch even if they had any sort of description.

    This is just one of those situations that just sucks. No amount of outrage will change it.

    • JackO
    • May 25th, 2010

    I sympathize with your position but I think that you’re not being realistic. The bottom line is that there are people out there who will victimize others, there are people with criminal intent looking for criminal opportunity. We know this. Crime has happened, will happen. Knowing this, what are you willing to do to keep from becoming a victim?

    Up until this point I think that we are on the same wavelength. the question is what are *you* willing to do since *I* am not likely to be sexually-assaulted by a man in DC. This isn’t really a concern of mine, for myself.

    If it *was* my concern I personally would keep the concept in mind when I decide to work late or to walk home alone at night or even to be in a building late at night…in an isolated area…anywhere where, if I was a woman, a man could overpower me and violate my person, physically.

    And this is what I just don’t get. Knowing that this is very possible, why do you argue against taking steps to ensure that it won’t happen? Because of the implications to your freedom? Do you really think that it is wise to exercise your freedom in a way that makes you a likely victim of sexual assault? Do you think that telling men that sexual assault is wrong is going to stop men from sexually-assaulting women? It won’t. Some men will do it anyway. What *will* stop men, at least some men, from sexually-assaulting women is for women to not put themselves into positions where men can easily sexually-assault them and get away with it.

    Whether you think they will or they won’t, when it comes to any one man. Because you don’t want to be wrong and get sexually-assaulted, right? You can’t be right all the time about who would and who wouldn’t sexually-assault you if given the chance, but you sure can choose what position to put yourself in which makes it easy and risk-free for someone to sexually-assault you. Call it what you will. I know what *I* would call it: doing everything that I could to protect my person from violent invasion by some strange guy. Or even a guy that I know.

    From here the choice is yours.

    Now certainly there will still be men out there who will go out of their way to gain physical control of women and then abuse them. But take care of the easy part first and then we’ll worry about the hard part together. Trust me, there are men out there, like myself, who would be quite happy to help you be safe and secure. With no strings attached. But we need you to help us to help you. Trite as that may sound. Don’t dangle yourselves out there for the lowlife scumbags of the world to just reach out and grab you.

    • JackO
    • May 25th, 2010

    “Honestly? Yes. Remember when people’s houses got broken into? Everyone was like, “it’s because their back doors weren’t locked.” NO. They didn’t get robbed because their doors weren’t locked”

    …actually they did, if the robbers would just move on to the next house if they found that the doors were locked. Of course there are some robbers who would not be deterred by a secure house. But some would. So yes it’s quite possible that they were indeed robbed because on top of everything else, they didn’t lock their back door.

  2. JackO,

    you clearly have never talked to many women about what they do to prevent rape.

    I can tell you that you have much more freedom of movement than women, we self-regulate our movements all the time and don’t do things that you take for granted to be “safe”. We get yelled at though on the rare occasions when we’re not constantly on the lookout for an attacker.

    Also people completely misjudge how society enables or discourages rape, if its something that regardless of anything else some men will do, then we should find similar rates of rape per capita in similar countries around the world but its NOT the case. I’m studying abroad in Japan and the rape rate is 1.85/100,000 people per year. The US on the other hand has a rape rate of 32.99/100,000 annually. Notice any HUGE differences?

    And thats per capita statistics NOT total number and Japan I’d say the status of woman is fairly similar to that in the US (AKA there obviously have to be explanations why rape is happening at a completely different frequency in these countries even though its not like Japanese women face less discrimination in there society) but just by being born in Japan a woman has a extremely significantly lower chance of being raped like 1/20 of that of a woman born in the United States.

    Also there are things that get swept under the rug that no one ever talks about. The rates of child sexual abuse in the US are quite high but people who were abused aren’t vocal or public about it. Obviously we don’t expect children to prevent themselves from being sexually abused. Adult women do take many precautions that you are not aware of because its become so normalized to avoid scary individuals but no woman can take these precautions 100% of the time.

    Even when I was NOT walking alone at night, but walking with a friend back from the GW metro stop some random drunken GW student out of nowhere touched me as he passed me. Its not like I was walking unaccompanied. Reminds me I had a Gtown friend who took a cab (like all these safety tips tell you to) from a club to her dorm because she forgot her ID, and the cabbie tried to sexually assault her, what was she supposed to do? Never take a licensed cab by herself?

    • Ziggy
    • May 26th, 2010

    neogaia,

    Like you said, women (and men) do indeed take many prudent precautions to reduce the likelihood they will be victims of crime, be it sexual assault or other crime. The original post was essentially saying that taking any precautions is wrong because it shifts the burden of responsibility onto the victim/potential victim, rather than the perpetrator. Which is not valid, I don’t think.

    You are right, of course, that no one can truly be on guard 100% of the time, nor will that always prevent you from becoming a victim of crime. And certainly no one should be “yelling” at victims. But high school and college students do seem to be prone to engaging in more than their fair share of imprudent behavior, usually as a result of alcohol consumption. I think it is possible to encourage people to take precautions that are, unfortunately, a good idea when living in urban or high-crime areas – locking your doors, not becoming drunk to the point when you are a danger to yourself and/or can be easily robbed or otherwise victimized, traveling in well-lit and high-traffic areas, etc. – without suggesting that the victim/potential victim is at fault if something happens to them.

    Tangentially related, note that we do widely accept such reasoning when it comes to things like illegal activity. If you get robbed while you were out buying drugs on a corner somewhere, people are much less likely to feel sorry for you, even if its just as traumatic as being robbed while you were out minding your own business late one night. Why? Because it is believed that you were engaging in high-risk behavior. So the concept isn’t totally alien.

  1. May 25th, 2010
  2. May 27th, 2010
  3. December 24th, 2010

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: