Every now and then I really tick feminists off, which is funny, because most people who know me think of me as rather a feminist, at least in Christian circles. I like to think of myself more as common sense, personally.
But whether it's my opinions on daycare or that women should at least try to look pretty for their husbands, I tick off lots of people who think I'm trying to keep us in our place. And that's not my point at all.
My goal is to help women live the abundant lives they were created to live, and that means embracing relationship, finding their purpose in Christ, and pressing forward to making this world a better place.
We don't do that by being stupid and making excuses. And let me tell you about the things I say that are often taken as the most offensive. Usually it concerns the idea of modesty: that women don't understand a man's sex drive, which is so closely linked to sight. And when young teens dress in a revealing manner, they are inviting guys to think of them in that way. Those guys aren't thinking: wow, she's pretty! They're thinking, "Wow, she has nice ---- ". Get it?
It was this column that set it off. Since writing it, I've received a ton of emails accusing me of saying that if these girls get raped, it's their fault. Of course I don't believe that! The blame lies solely at the feet of the guy who raped her, and he should be punished to the full extent of the law.
But does it follow that just because the guy SHOULD be punished, and just because it IS the guy's fault, that girls should therefore dress however they want? I don't think so, because it's just plain stupid. And I don't abide by stupidity.
When I was in university twenty years ago, the administration pushed a "No means no" campaign. The emphasis was on insisting that males obtain proper consent before having sex. If the girl was drunk, she couldn't give consent, and it would be considered rape. Everywhere you went on campus were "no means no" posters, with pictures of alcohol.
I always wondered, "why would a girl go to a house where there are a bunch of buys and drink that much in the first place?" Does that mean that it's her fault if she gets drunk? Again, no. But just because it's not your fault doesn't mean it's not dangerous. God won't hold you responsible for what someone else does to you, but that's no reason not to raise our girls to be smart.
We're spending so much time trying to ram it into boys' heads that if they force sex on a girl who is drunk, or high, or hasn't explicitly said yes that it's rape, but we've stopped telling girls that you shouldn't go to a boy's apartment alone, you shouldn't consume alcohol in a guy's place, you shouldn't walk home in the dark alone, you shouldn't accept a ride from someone you barely know (and often even from someone you do know).
Most sexual assaults, after all, happen between two people who already know each other. They're not random strangers grabbing you from behind. And what that says to me is that many sexual assaults could be avoided if the girls acted smarter. Please understand: I'm not saying that if a girl is assaulted it's her fault. But I am saying that perhaps we should teach our daughters some basic common sense things that our mothers knew, but that our generation stopped being taught because it violated feminist principles.
Here, then, is the list of what I am teaching my daughters:
1. Never go near a guy in a parked car. If he wants directions, stand far back and talk loudly. If you think you're being followed by a car, turn around and walk in the opposite direction (ie. towards the car). Don't go near a woman asking directions in a parked car, either. My fellow Canadians will remember Kristen French, who was nabbed by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka when pretty Karla stopped and leaned out a window with a map to ask her for help. I tell my daughters to be wary of all cars, even those with women.
2. Never consume alcohol. Period. If they want to drink once they're married, I'm fine with that. But it compromises your judgment, and you need that. To other kids who are not my daughters, and who are not so inclined to listen to me, I would say: do not drink outside of your own home/apartment. Never drink unless you are in the presence of at least one other female who is not drinking as much as you are.
3. Don't be alone in a boy's room. Don't let him into your room. If you're engaged, and you're older, keep the door open. Live with roommates and make sure they're around. And if you ever get weird vibes with a guy you're dating, leave.
4. Try as hard as you can not to accept rides from people you don't know very well. Try to make sure there are girls in the car, too. If that's not possible, or if it's a guy you've been dating for a while, don't drive for the sake of driving. Drive because you have somewhere to go and you're expected there at a certain time. Other than that, try to walk. It's cheaper and healthier.
5. Watch what you wear. Give off the impression that you want to be treated with class. Don't give off the impression that you're interested in sex, because that's how people will start to see you. Dress to attract the kind of person you want (though of course we have to remember that many people who rape appear like upstanding citizens).
6. If you walk in the dark, walk with your keys in one hand and your cell phone in the other.
7. Live with other girls. Don't live alone. Always have a roommate.
8. Make sure someone always knows where you're supposed to be, and what time you're supposed to be home.
9. Have a code word you can say to your friend or parent on the phone when you are in trouble.
Will these rules mean that they won't be assaulted? No. Nothing can guarantee anything. But I still think it's better to be wise and overcautious than to be silly and dangerous when it comes to something as serious as sexual assault.
So, to reiterate, if someone attacks you, that is never your fault.
At the same time, though, we should all try as hard as possible to avoid danger. We can never eliminate the risk, but we can reduce it. And if it's possible to reduce it, then isn't that a worthy goal?
None of this should have any bearing on feminism. I know at one point women were blamed for rape based on what they were wearing, because they "asked for it", or based on their profession, or even based on the fact that they were married to the potential rapist (a husband can't rape his wife, after all, so the thought went). All of these things were archaic and evil, and I'm glad they're gone. Rape is rape.
But again, just because the guy should be held morally and legally responsible for rape does not mean that women should just assume they can do whatever they want and thus be safe. The world doesn't work that way. Whether we like it or not, we are the weaker sex. We are vulnerable. It's up to us to be smart and reduce the risk. No, we can't eliminate it. But I'd rather teach my girls at least how to reduce it, instead of saying, "rape is never your fault!", and leaving it at that. I want to prepare them for the real world. Don't you?
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.