Precautionary measures

I’ve just discovered the tag surfer function in WordPress and found a great blog site dedicated to answering FAQs on feminism (see new link at side). I read the interesting entry on “What’s wrong with suggesting that women take precautions to prevent being raped?“, where comments digressed into a discussion on the finer legalities of carrying a handgun. Then I came up with my own idea for a precautionary measure and thought I’d post it here too.

Perhaps as a precaution women should at all times wear a badge, or a T-shirt with a slogan on it, or even just get a tattoo on our foreheads saying: “I do not want to be raped.” All those altruistic sexual assaulters out there (”Your honour, I only did it because she wanted me to”) would find it so much less confusing to channel their inner desire to be helpful.
And *if* it doesn’t stop rape it would at least save time in court. Instead of all that searching through a victim’s sexual history, she could just point to her forehead.
But I suppose it could be argued that the victim’s clothing distracted the assaulter from the tattoo, so maybe to clarify things the tattoo needs to be more specific: “No matter what I’m wearing, I do not ever want to be raped.”
Or what if the victim got drunk and passed out – amend that tattoo to read: “No matter what I’m wearing/doing, I do not ever want to be raped.”
Or what if the victim had had sex with her assaulter in the past or she’s had sex with a lot of people – amend that to: “No matter what I’m wearing/doing/what my sexual history is/whether I’ve had sex with you before, I do not ever want to be raped.”
And it is true that occasionally men are raped too, so everyone should have the tattoo. Perhaps on our backs as well as our foreheads, just to cover all bases. It should be done at birth, sadly it’s never too early.
However by now everyone’s forehead and back is full of writing, you could even call it small print. And no-one ever reads the small print, right?
Hang on, I’ve got a better idea: as a precaution, why don’t we teach everyone to just ASSUME that no-one EVER wants to be raped? And even build that assumption into our legal system?



Filed under Feminism, Pontifications

7 responses to “Precautionary measures

  1. iwillknowwhenifindit

    Right on!

  2. This is brilliant. I hope a lot of people read this post. (I’ve added you to my blogroll btw).

  3. Brilliant. Though I’m afraid it makes far too much sense to ever catch on.

  4. pussinboots

    It should be remembered that the law is actually no longer allowed to use the victim’s sexual history to attempt to prove consent in the instance of sexual assault, because every instance is individual and separate. In a complex turnaround however, it is used to discredit the woman’s word when it is ‘his’ against ‘hers’ in the same manner as in any legal situation – in the same way she would attempt to discredit him as having a history of violence or coercion or lying.

    Of course the law realises that nobody WANTS to be sexually assaulted. The problem lies in CONSENT. If there is consent, it is SEX and therefore it is not assault. If they didn’t consent, it is assault. The consent test is essential – otherwise you have a situation where any instance of sex, once proven to have occurred, could be taken as assault. I advocate justice as much as I advocate education on sexual assault.

    More important issues to me are the fact that sexual assault (we have no offence of ‘rape’ in this country) is mainly only considered assault when it occurs in the context of painful physical assault – the invasion in itself is generally not considered as heinous as the violent circumstances in which it occurred. Secondly, consent relies on the reasonable person test – what a reasonable person would do to escape the situation, or whether the alleged attacker reasonably took steps to establish consent. A reasonable person in the law is basically a reasonable man and does not take into consideration imbalance of power, which is the very crux of sexual assault.

    • Of course you are right and I know I am being a bit facetious. My good friend who is a lawyer made the exact same comments to me at the time I posted this! (It’s not you, is it?)
      The thing is, I always have a hard time believing that the perpetrator could possibly not have realised that the victim was not consenting. What I’d like to see is more onus on everyone to make sure that their actions really are welcome. Men should consider the fact that they can be physically intimidating to women, especially when they are much bigger, older, wealthier, or in a position of authority. When there is a young person involved, even if beyond the age of consent, there should be an extra responsibility to check that s/he is a willing participant. So what I’m suggesting is that we all should think about the consent test when we have sex. We should take more than “reasonable steps” to establish that there is consent. That is what we should teach kids. The idea that women should take precautions because what they wear or their past actions (for example) might outweigh any other means they use for saying “no, I don’t want this” (such as screaming, hitting, cowering or shaking with fear, pushing, becoming completely limp or wooden, unless that is what was explicitly agreed beforehand) is unacceptable.
      Another interesting point my friend made is whether sexual assault is more serious when the victim is a virgin. I said no. But I think where the assailant is aware of the victim’s ignorance and/or inexperience, surely that does make the crime more serious.
      These are all interesting considerations. Thanks for your comments.

  5. we always choose home interiors with bright colors because the mood is uplifting ;.:

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