How It Feels To Be A Target

#sexualassault #rape #violence #victimblaming

There’s been a lot of talk of “risk factors” and “safety measures” and “being smart” lately, what with the celebrity nude photo leaks and the “anti-rape” nail polish and the prominent sexual assault and domestic violence cases.

Enough has already been written elsewhere about how much bullshit this all is, but here’s another thing you might not have considered if this doesn’t impact you personally.

The biggest risk factor for sexual assault or any other sexual crime is being perceived as female or feminine. Another big risk factor is lacking relative power in any other way, such as being a child or having a disability.

Do you know how it feels to be a target?

It doesn’t matter what I do. I could try to pass as a man, but even then, I would be a very small man with a body shaped in a “feminine” way. I would be exactly the sort of man that other men target for sexual violence.

I think of Wanda Sykes’ “Detachable Pussy” bit, and even though it’s just a joke, I know that in reality, women without vaginas are probably at even greater risk of violence than those who have them (if they can be read as trans). I imagine what would happen if someone tried to rape me only to find that I had no vagina. He would probably rape me some other way, or just beat me to death.

I already take a lot of those fucked-up “safety measures” they tell me to take, although I know I don’t do nearly “enough” because there’s no way to do “enough” and they’d still find a way to blame me if I got raped. Every time I go outside or attend a social event (especially one that involves alcohol) or socialize with a man, I think about the fact that I am a target. I am a target because I’m perceived as female. I am a target because I’m perceived weak, fuckable, a sexual object. I am not a target because I drink or wear dresses. I am a target because I’m perceived as female.

Do you know how it feels to be a target?

Rape isn’t like robbery or burglary. It isn’t like provoking a hungry wild animal. It isn’t like a car crash. It isn’t like driving drunk (hi Richard Dawkins). It isn’t like getting struck by lighting because you went out in the storm. It isn’t like basically anything else except perhaps a hate crime, because that is essentially what rape is.

I am targeted for rape and other types of sexual violence because I’m perceived as female. The only effective way to protect myself from rape is to not exist in the world while being perceived as female. (And even then, you know, men get raped too.)

Do you have any ideas about how I could do that?

I am patronizingly told that yes, rape culture is a thing, yes, men should be taught not to rape, yes, yes, rape is very very bad and it’s always the rapist’s fault, but

but

but

BUT

shouldn’t we really be giving ladies the tools they need to stay safe in the meantime after all change doesn’t happen immediately and we can’t just tell all men to stop raping and they’ll stop and yes this is unfair but maybe for now you can just keep yourself from getting raped so that we don’t have to feel bad about this?

Okay, I’ll indulge you. What’s your plan? How long am I supposed to appear outside only with an escort, carry pepper spray and keys between my fingers and a gun that I’ve paid money for and been taught how to use and self-defense training in case I can’t access the gun, wear only baggy clothes, refrain from drinking or dancing or consensual sex or anything else untoward? What’s the timeframe here? How long do I have to do this while you do the work of teaching men that I don’t belong to them? How are you going to teach them that? Where are you getting the funding for these programs? Who will teach law enforcement to take rape accusations seriously? Who will teach coaches, religious leaders, politicians, and other powerful men to stop covering this shit up? How are you going to implement mandatory consent-based sex education at all grade levels?

What’s your plan?

How long do I have to live like a prisoner in this world?

Do you know how it feels to be a target?

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