On the topic of “Common Sense”

No.  I won’t read an article with term “Rape Responsibility” in the title.  I’ve basically gotten the tone of the piece, and I’m in no mood to upset myself with someone else’s entitled opinion.  What I’ve gleaned from the reactions was that the article was ill-informed and out of touch.  It dares to address the “Fine Line Between Victim Blaming and Common Sense.”  Since I’m an obliging sort, allow me to assist:

Common Sense Fact No. 1 – When a woman is raped, it is because she has encountered a rapist.

Revolutionary concept, no?  What you read about how you are dressed, where you go, how much you had to drink – it’s crap.  This is not to say that we are to disregard our personal safety.  It’s of paramount importance.  But let’s be clear:  Never in life has a normal man been going about his daily life, then said, “Wait! Drunk Girls? I suddenly and inexplicably am overcome with the need to rape.”  He was a rapist when he brushed his teeth that morning, and was simply waiting for his opportunity.

Common Sense Fact No. 2 – According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 77% of completed rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

So the boogeyman stories you hear about high-heeled women walking from the club down dark alleys reeking of booze aren’t nearly as prevalent as your neighbor, or the familiar face who offered you a ride home.  In fact, when that statistic is broken down, almost 24 % of those rapists are family members, and another 30% are intimate partners.  Even more disturbing, in the occurrence of elderly female rape, 81% of those crimes are committed by the primary caregiver.  Though the label “acquaintance rape” is used, it bothers me, because it seems to take the teeth out of what it is: rape.  It doesn’t matter if you could identify them, or have been to their homes.  They are rapists.  There are scores of people who do not see rape as a normal part of caring for someone who depends on and trusts them.  Most acquaintances don’t see forcing an unwilling person to have sex as an “after party.”

Common Sense Fact No. 3 – The onus is on woman to avoid getting raped.  The onus is on men to get women to say yes.  Being taught “Don’t rape,” is rare.

So we are taught to defend ourselves, avoid dressing a certain way, don’t walk here, party there, or drink too much.  Again, these are valid messages toward personal safety.  Fewer and farther between are tips on how not to be a raping bastard.  “Sometimes ‘no’ means ‘on’,” a former acquaintance once joked.  (I was unamused.)  We are almost taught to expect to be raped if we are not careful enough.  And what are men taught?

In high school, we had a health ed speaker discussed sexuality with us.  “Boys are like a light switch.  Once they’re on, they’re on.  Girls are like crock pots.  You just need to wait a while until they warm up.”  Saying no never even came up.  “No” means “later.”  No matter what she says, she wants the dick.  Just wait her out.

Common Sense Fact No. 4 – Not all victims of rape are women.

I recognize that I spoke primarily in the feminine, due in part to the fact that women were the target of that article.  That being said, men and – often to the point of being heart breaking – young boys are also victims of rape.  The theories of skirts that are too short, and women walking alone, again, go out the window.  Male rape victims underreport even more than female victims.  There are also huge incidences of rape by someone familiar to the victim.


Teach your children, your family, your friends and anyone else who will listen that rape is an act of violence.  It’s not something that hysterical women make up, or a prison punchline.  It is traumatic, and the range of emotions one goes through is vast:  How did a person like that slip into my social circle?  If it is someone I know, will our friends take sides? Do I report it?  Will I be believed?  What did I do to cause this?  Rape victims are completely capable of erroneously blaming themselves without any help from you.  Victim blaming is a large part of the reason rapes go unreported ever day.  Saying, “Well, I’m not trying to blame the victim, but…” is about as useful as a bigot saying “Some of my best friends are black.”  When you factor in the statistic that 60.4% of female and 69.2% of male victims were raped before the age of 18, victim-blaming becomes even more unconscionable.

The circumstances are irrelevant.  If you have raped someone, then you are a rapist.  Don’t you ever get that twisted.