Don’t Work on Crime, Just Be a Vending Machine
In a recent post about the blame female victims of crime incur, Aunt B made an excellent point (emphasis mine):
I mean, please, do you see how insidious this is, and kind of gross? It assumes that there are rapists out there, determined to rape, and that there’s no solution to the problem of all these rapists except for women, “sensible women,” as Brooks puts it, being willing to curtail their lives. But this does nothing to actually lessen the incidents of rapes, because all you’re doing is playing this game where you try to make yourself look like less of an easy target than someone else. “Don’t rape me; rape her or her or her.”
Rape incidents are reduced not by women hiding in their houses, afraid to do normal things, but by rapists not raping.
The wearer hides behind the sheet, printed with an actual-size photo of a vending machine. Ms. Tsukioka’s clothing is still in development, but she already has several versions, including one that unfolds from a kimono and a deluxe model with four sides for more complete camouflage.
Don’t rape me, I dispense yummy sugar water. Rape that non-machine right over there.
Additional disguises are also in the offing:
Take the “manhole bag,” a purse that can hide valuables by unfolding to look like a sewer cover. Lay it on the street with your wallet inside, and unwitting thieves are supposed to walk right by. There is also a line of knife-proof high school uniforms made with the same material as Kevlar, and a book with tips on how to dress even the nerdiest children like “pseudohoodlums” to fend off schoolyard bullies.
That dovetails nicely with what B and commenters were talking about – “dress your kids up a certain way so they don’t get bullied” isn’t much of a stretch from thinking a woman’s way of dressing invited trouble, and again puts a large chunk of responsibility on potential victims. The vending machine and manhole bag devices are deliberately profiting off of this mentality, selling products based on perpetual fear.
B sums up the problem with this kind of thinking neatly:
And again, it’s superstitious. You could do everything in your power to avoid being raped by a stranger and you could be raped by your husband’s friend. I’m not saying that women shouldn’t take steps to be safer, but let’s be real, that’s all it is–steps to be safer, to hedge your bets; there’s no way to be utterly safe.
That’s why it comes down to changing rapists’ and potential rapists’ attitudes towards having sex with people without their consent. That’s what stops rape, not us performing some grown-up equivalent of “don’t step on a crack.”