Using good judgement is not sexist

VARNER

Feminists, don’t get your panties in a twist.

Saying victims of rape deserved it and saying victims of rape could possibly have prevented it with sound judgment are two different things.

Nicole Hurt’s letter to the editor Monday [“Female victims should not be blamed for rape”] said a Friday Red & Black article perpetuated a “victim-blaming rhetoric” because both University Chief of Police Jimmy Williamson and University President Michael Adams warned against women opening themselves as targets for rapists.

Friday’s article [“Rape connected to binge drinking, officials say”] quoted Williamson as saying, “We try to remind people to drink in a responsible way, because if you overconsume, you can make yourself more appealing to people who want to commit a crime.”

And it quoted Adams as saying, “I particularly would appeal to young women to make sure they use sound judgment about where they are, what time of day, and what condition they’re in because those circumstances occur in an overwhelming majority of those kinds of cases.”

Then The Red & Black opinions editor Courtney Holbrook, writing for the editorial board, pitched in against Williamson and Adams’ statements, writing Monday that women should be able to wear revealing clothes and drink downtown without worrying about rapists on the prowl.

Holbrook is right. Women should not have to worry about rapists — in an ideal world.

But this ain’t an ideal world, ladies.

Women have to be constantly vigilant as Williamson and Adams said, especially while wearing skimpy outfits, getting inebriated, then walking home alone at 3 a.m. through a deserted parking lot.

Williamson has said the biggest contributing factor to sex crimes is alcohol.

And Larry Gourdine, the relationship and sexual violence prevention coordinator at the University Health Center, has said that too often with alcohol, all awareness of danger goes out the window.

He has said, furthermore, if a victim of rape were so drunk she couldn’t remember exactly what happened the night before, no district attorney would want to prosecute the alleged offender.

I know not all rape victims were being irresponsible.

And I don’t think Williamson and Adams were saying that either.

When a rape occurs, officials release statements for the public welfare. There is no need for an official to come out and say, “Rapists are bad.”

Their statements were not attacking women. They were meant to help protect women.

It’s no surprise that many of the 14 rapes reported in Athens-Clarke County since June involved alcohol.

Am I saying these women deserved to be sexually abused because they were drinking?

Absolutely not.

A woman should be able to have fun, holding a drink in her hand and lookin’ fine.

But that woman needs to have a plan. She needs to have trustworthy people around her, helping her get back home safely.

Imagine this: a deviant man looking to exert his power over a woman sees four attractive women in low-cut tops taking shots together in a bar. They go to the restroom in a pack, and the man hears one woman make a phone call to her group’s designated driver.

Outside the bar is a young woman on her cell phone, intoxicated and yelling. She storms off around the corner into a dimly lit part of the street.

Which woman will he set his sights on?

When I say women should take precautions against would-be rapists, I’m not saying women who don’t and then are raped deserve it.

Rape is a filthy, inexcusable crime.

But it exists.

So, women of all beliefs — feminists included — don’t neglect safety measures just because you’re a woman and you shouldn’t have to take safety measures.

Stay in groups. Check around your car before you get in. Be responsible if you drink. Don’t walk alone in the dark, especially with a cocktail in your hand.

And, no, don’t flaunt your body if someone isn’t there to help you fight off an attacker.

These precautions seem reasonable — not sexist — to me.

— Paige Varner is a senior from Albany majoring in magazines and a news writer for The Red & Black

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