But first, I want to explain the frustration that generated my last post. I read a number of political blogs on both the left and right. I occasionally comment, challenging the typical narrative seen on those sites. The vast majority of comments are nothing more than attempts to come up with the worst way to characterize the opposing view and the most creative and offense names imaginable. There is typically little effort to engage in a substantive discussion and many of the worst comments are thrown out by people who use aliases to hide their identity. It’s cowardly and disgusting and I felt like the slippery slope had arrived here at my blog. My apologies to Someone aka Sharon for jumping to the conclusion I did and my thanks to her and Trent for continuing the conversation and to others for their comments.
So, on to the substance…
The reality of our world is that it is a dangerous place. That is our reality. And as far as I’m concerned, those who ignore that reality do so at their own peril. Yes, I would love to live in a crime-free world, a rape-free world, a risk-free world. But such a world is an ideal that will never, ever exist. So, the idea that people can or should do whatever they want because, god dammit, they have the right to is really kind of ridiculous.
Yes, in an ideal world women can walk down the street without fear of assault. Women should be able to go to parties, have fun, get drunk, and not fear assault because they do so. But that’s not the world we live in, unfortunately.
One of the things that bothers me about this topic is that many women claim no man can understand how women feel. While I don’t fear being raped, however, does not mean that I can not understand the concept. In addition this belief completely discounts that men are just as capable of fear and insecurity.
I try to go for evening runs several times a week. In my neighborhood. Every time I go I worry about loose dogs and the packs of teenage boys who hang out at street corners and parks along my route. So I take precautions. I try to avoid running after dark. I try to run on well-traveled streets. I alter my route if I sense something on my danger radar. And every time I go for a run, I spend much of the time pondering escape routes and emergency responses should I be confronted by a dog or a punk.
I would like to take light rail to work. But the most convenient route goes through some of the worst neighborhoods in town. I don’t take the chance.
I would like to bicycle to work. But the most convenient route goes through those same neighborhoods. I don’t take the chance.
You see, I recognize the reality of the world we live in and make decisions to avoid unnecessary risks. For me, my loved ones, and those around me.
But let’s say I did something differently. Let’s say that I couldn’t sleep one night and I decided to walk down a street in one of those dangerous neighborhoods. At midnight. I have the right to do that, don’t I? Let’s say that the gangbangers on the corner decide to turn me into their sport and they beat me to within an inch of my life. Here’s what I expect in that circumstance — the thugs are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible and that you don’t expend one single ounce of energy on me, that you don’t shed a tear on my behalf. Other than a prison sentence for the preps you and society owe me nothing because I was the idiot who ignored the reality of our world and placed myself at risk. I fully expect that the reaction of many who learned about my assault and my decision that put me in that place at that time would be ‘what a bleeping idiot’ and their opinion would be correct.
Here’s what I expect. That while we battle the harsh realities of our world and try to improve things for everybody, we should also recognize and acknowledge the impact of our reality on the things we can do or should do. People who want to ignore our reality because they should have the right to do what they want regardless of our reality do so at their own risk.
Should we hide in our homes and never venture out? Of course not. We still must live our lives and challenge those who might cause us harm. But those who take unreasonable risks –I have lost my patience. Going to a frat party where you don’t know anybody and drinking to blackout oblivion, given everything we know and have heard, is an unreasonable risk for any woman to take. And, no, that does not mean I blame the victim for the assault.