I got out to the bus stop this morning just as it was pulling away. No matter, I always give myself plenty of time to get where I need to be, and I didn’t mind waiting. As I was waiting I heard some children screaming as they were playing. It made me wonder, how many of us can tell the difference between a playful scream and a real scream? I’ve reacted pretty strongly to screams in the past just to find out that the kids were playing. And that made me think about tigers. (I know it’s a jump, but go with me on this.) When they’re growling at each other, do they know if the other is being serious or playful? We tend to think they do, but how do we know if we can’t even tell the difference between screams in our own kind? And then I was wondering why it is that we consider ourselves at the top of the food chain, and yet we scream instead of growl. Unlike tigers we tend to not face it and fight back with everything we have, we scream and run away. Some would say this is why we’re at the top, but I don’t think so. Back when we started to kill our food, we would have died out if we screamed and ran from anything that could hurt us. We fought to live, and succeeded. What happened to that?

And then the bus came. And it was a double-decker. I sat in the top half of course, it was my first time on one. And no, it wasn’t red.

Do not read any further if you’re easily offended or don’t want to be made uncomfortable. Very sensitive issues, but I needed to vent them like this. I don’t care if no one reads it.

Earlier tonight I found some articles about this jacket where you can push a button on the inside of the sleeve, and suddenly anyone who tries to grab you gets this big electrical shock and their muscles release. At first it sounded awesome, and I wanted one. Wouldn’t I feel safe when I have to be out alone if I had a jacket like that! But then I did some more reading, and some more thinking. For somewhat obvious reasons this jacket is marketed to women. Got me thinking about the tigers again. When a human female is attacked and/or raped, she is blamed for it by society. You may not realize that you do this, but you do. We all know that we’ve looked at girls or women and said, based on the way she is dressed ‘she’s just asking to be raped’. Why? Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about control. The guy doesn’t attack because of the way you look, he attacks because he wants to control you, and because he is a criminal. A woman should be able to walk down an alley in the middle of the night completely naked, and not be afraid that she will be attacked. Some of you may be incredulous at this statement. But the guys who I know are reading this wouldn’t attack a woman who did that. So why do we think she’s asking for it? Why is the blame shifted from the person who does wrong to the victim? And yet women are made to feel guilty, like it’s their fault. Most don’t even tell the cops that it happened, because there’s so much stigma and blame attached to being a victim. So we’re trained. Don’t do this, don’t do that, or the evil men will get you. Anyone reminded of the boogyman? I read a story tonight about a woman who was attacked. She was out walking her dog. She’s 21, like me. Her attacker was 19, and did horrible things to her for a total of 40 minutes, he almost killed her. A couple of 16 year old boys saw what was happening and got help, and the community members managed to subdue him until the cops got there. The woman’s life is basically ruined. I’ll bet she wishes he did kill her. I’ll also bet that she’s feeling guilty for being out alone on a secluded path, even though she had her dog with her. Yes, this is an extreme case. And yea, we can all see that she’s completely innocent and that he’s a monster. But if she was all dressed up, and had had a drink or two before walking home alone, would you be thinking differently about her innocence in the matter? I’ll bet you would.

There are some cultures where women berate and fight back against their attackers. With some exceptions, this is not our attitude. I’d like to think I’d fight back, but would I really? Somehow I think I’d be too scared. We teach girls to be meek and gentle, and just stay out of trouble. And then we teach boys to be aggressive and go after what they want. We need to teach girls confidence, as we do boys. I learned some things about rape last year, and I’m going to tell them to you now. The majority of rapes are by someone you know, not by some stranger on the street. It’s that good friend, family member, or co-worker that does it. The friendly, likeable sort. And we teach our kids to trust these people and do what they say, but never ever go out alone. Of course those others do exist, but there’s something interesting about them too. Those rapists that choose their victims from among strangers can decide within 12 seconds whether you’d be a good victim. They look for the meek, the afraid. They look for the girls who keep their eyes down, shoulders hunched, hurrying to get out of the secluded place. And yea, if you’ve been drinking you’re a better target. But like I said earlier, that doesn’t make it your fault. Perhaps we should all just stop drinking, and then we’d be less likely to be targets. But if you think like that, then you’d better be ready to make some huge life changes. Time to move your place of residence to a parking lot. The least likely place for crime is in a parking lot. The most likely place? Your home. Hmm, interesting… So far, if you take the avoidance view, you should live in a parking lot, be an aggressive personality, never drink, and not have any friends, family, or co-workers. Oh, don’t forget wearing big, baggy clothes so no one can see what you look like, or else they could find you so attractive they want to rape you. Now I see why so many of the paranoid schizophrenics among us go off to live the life of a hermit, either in the woods or in the streets. Perhaps it would be better to take less time teaching people how to avoid crime and work instead on why society forms these criminals in the first place. We’re not even teaching the right avoidance strategies anyways.

Kudos to mom for putting me in martial arts classes and not ballet. I’ve always been told that I hold myself with a look of self-confidence due to this. Hopefully that means that I’ll never be in the role of the victim. And if I am I really hope I fight back and teach my attacker not to mess with a woman ever again. That being said, a step like martial arts for a kid should not be necessary. I know I’ve reiterated this a few times, but it’s NEVER the victim’s fault. I had to hear this a few times before I actually started to believe it, and I still get afraid when I’m out alone. And I avoid being alone at night. Of course this is silly too, the busiest time for criminals is mid-afternoon on a Monday. But I continue to follow these avoidance strategies, because they’re so ingrained in our society. It’s after midnight, and I should be able to just walk to the pub. Would I be able to do this without getting hurt? Yes. Do I actually feel that that is true? Of course not. And if I did it, and by some chance I was attacked, would I be blamed? Yes. “Why were you out alone at night?! You know better than that!” IT DOESN’T MATTER. My actions have no bearing whatsoever on me becoming a victim. No, they don’t. It doesn’t matter what time it is, how dark it is out, whether you’re alone, what you’re wearing. It’s never ever your fault. It is entirely the fault of the attacker. If he didn’t attack you, you wouldn’t be a victim, that’s all there is to it. I don’t know why we continue to tell ourselves otherwise, but we do. And I know that this post will make no real difference, but it helps to think that it might at least reach a few people.