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Don’t Work on Crime, Just Be a Vending Machine

October 21, 2007

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.

A vivid illustration of this principle comes from Japan, where a fashion designer is printing up big fabric sheets so that women can look like vending machines.

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.”

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2007 5:15 pm

    That reminds me of this blog post from 2005 that made the rounds:

    http://nelsolidarida.livejournal.com/215227.html

  2. October 21, 2007 6:16 pm

    Excellent post! This situation with the rapes would be funny, if it weren’t so horribly tragic. And yeah, if your husband’s friend rapes you, that little vending machine dress you left in the closet while he did it wouldn’t be much help.

    I like this line: “Rape incidents are reduced not by women hiding in their houses, afraid to do normal things, but by rapists not raping.”

  3. Donna Locke permalink
    October 21, 2007 10:04 pm

    Good luck changing the sociopathic/psychopathic brain. You’re wasting your time. Yet one has to consider how common such tendencies are among males, given the incidence of rape among males given the opportunity, as in wartime, and the research showing that the psychological profile of the average rapist matches that of the guy next door, the average male.

    Still, I’m sure we all know or are males who would never rape, given any opportunity.

    We have to do something about the sexualizing of children in our present culture and the general coarsening of our culture, and we must teach our girls to speak up, not to be submissive, and to fight back. But we must keep in mind that many who fought back are dead, as some rapists will tell you — I heard one say this. So teach our girls to weigh their options and chances of success in any situation.

  4. snikta permalink
    October 22, 2007 8:43 am

    And then what do you do when your would-be rapist (whom you just foiled by turning into a Coke machine WITH FEET!) wants a drink because he’s thirsty from chasing you and starts putting money in your costume?

    I have visions of Japanese women slinking from spot to spot like a cartoon wolf disguised as a bush sneaking up a flock of unsuspecting sheep.

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