Yesterday I had the dubious ‘pleasure’ of reading a (male) law enforcement officer’s opinions about how women get themselves raped. It was the usual cant about “you need to take Personal Responsibility”. I got to thinking about it and am in fact still thinking about it.
Because it’s never a person’s fault if they’re raped. Never. Never. Never. The fault belongs to the rapist.
I’ve always taken precautions in my life, and frankly I think every woman has. We walk with our keys in stabbing mode, interleaved through our fingers to serve as ad hoc brass knucles. We know to SING (Solar Plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin). We’ve been told to pee on ourselves if rape seems imminent. Et cetera. But precautions are sometimes never enough. And it isn’t our fault when they fail us. It never is.
I haven’t blogged steadily for a very long time. I have attracted the attention of some folks who think a good way to spend their time is to come and leave personal attacks in the comments on my blog. Blogs are pretty porous and it’s not really a medium inclined to protection of privacy. So I just stopped writing on my own blog, guesting on other blogs and commenting on the blogs of my friends. As time goes by I’ve strained against the tether of FB, because I missed my 500 words. Lately I’ve missed them badly enough to be writing “status updates” that are more like “editorial columns.”
I wanted to blog.
But I didn’t.
I was taking precautions. I was not putting myself in harm’s way. I was not attracting their attention.
And no, it’s not the same as being raped. Not even remotely the same. But the attitudes about “how to stay safe” are similar. After all, you’re perfectly safe when you’re sitting quietly in your room in a flannel bathrobe and slippers. Aren’t you? No one is ever harmed in their own home!
It occurs to me as these streams get crossed and I see what I say to myself about why I shouldn’t blog and what these people say to women about why they shouldn’t look pretty or go to parties and I realise it’s all a subset of Trading Liberty For Security.
A person can die by inches as they let fear limit their life. And I have enough limitations as it is. So, I’m not staying away any more. I’m not letting a bully scare me away from doing what I love doing. Precautions are meant to keep you as safe as possible while encountering the world. They aren’t meant to keep you from living.
The rape is the fault of the rapist. The bullying is the fault of the bully.
A writer writes and if she isn’t writing she’s dying by inches.
**There are a lot of bloggers who no longer feel comfortable blogging because of the sheer sociopathy of web society. Yesterday several of my friends confessed that they too had to stop blogging because of stalkers. I can’t blame them and I don’t fault them for their choice. Everyone responds to violence in their own way. And it’s different when your stalker is local to you. I’m fortunate in that my problem is with non-local people. So this is in no way meant as an indictment of all the women who choose to quit blogging OR who choose to stay home in sweats.