We Need To Talk: You Can't "Invite" Rape

The other day a friend of mine posted THIS LINK on Facebook. It's a good read (quick, with good bolded headlines--haha), that basically says we have to stop judging other mothers about what they are or aren't doing. Which I totally agree with.

But some people misunderstood the exercise...and took it as an opportunity to get up on their weird-ass soap boxes. One woman in particular went OFF about how breastfeeding mothers need to cover up in public or (oh my god!) take it to the bathroom. To the bathroom. I can't even. When I tried to explain to her (nicely) about how eating in a bathroom is gross, the conversation got EVEN MORE STRANGE, and she talked about how not covering up when breastfeeding was inviting rape. Rape.

It's been on my mind for days. Not because it was infuriating, which it was, but because of the inaccuracies and the belief that women can invite rape in the first place. The entire breastfeeding issue aside, I was completely bowled over that someone would lay responsibility of even an imaginary assault at the feet of a woman...

Some might say that this is a matter of opinion, which is precisely my issue. YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT INVITE RAPE. PERIOD. FULL STOP. 

If we presume that women can somehow prevent rape, the flip side of that is the belief that men cannot control themselves and their sexual urges. I believe this was the cornerstone of the argument the woman on Facebook was presenting...that breastfeeding publicly without covering up entices men to then assault women. The danger (aside from the total inaccuracy) in this kind of thinking that is that it absolves assailants of of their personal responsibility when it comes to this vicious crime and instead places it on the victims.

But that isn't how rape really works. From what science and research tell us, sexual assault is rarely (if ever) about sex--it's about control. And women (or men, who can also be victims of rape) cannot possibly know how rapists think, what turns them toward a particular victim, or any of the rest of it. The best way to prevent rape is for rapists to stop raping. And in our culture, that has to start with good foundations of parenting, sexual education, and ultimately, removing the stigma from victims who come forward.

How on earth can we remove the stigma if our attitudes are that women can prevent their own assaults? It's egregious to me that any woman would be so  unsupportive of other women in this regard...and maybe it's belief born of fear. Maybe it's some religious thing. Maybe it's a lot of things. But what it's NOT is okay with me.

I know that rape isn't a pleasant topic. Sexual assault isn't something people want to hear about or think about, but the reality is that is happens, whether we ignore it or not. It's a huge issue for women at home and abroad. Luckily, some celebrities are beginning to help shed light on the topic, like Lady Gaga's new music video. But there are also set backs...like the fact that Ke$ha is being essentially blackballed for coming forward about her own sexual abuse. 

So what can we do? Well, for one, we can continue talking about it, unapologetically. Mothers and fathers need to talk to their sons and daughters about what sexual consent means (and does not mean.) When you see or hear someone victim blaming, don't tolerate it. Share this blog post. Or write your own. But don't sit idol as people say these things, whether it's online or in real life.

Because an attitude that women can prevent their own sexual assaults is dangerous for all of us. 

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