(TW: Sexual Assault)
As a self described introvert, I spend an embarrassing amount of time on the internet, particularly on Tumblr and Twitter. On Monday, I discovered a feminist social movement happening right under my nose in real time on Twitter, and decided to explore it a little deeper, since I found it very relevant and poignant.
On Monday, Twitter user Hillary Bowman-Smart started the hashtag ‘#safetytipsforladies’ in response to an article featured on The Punch that had a victim blame theme. While the article is trying to tell us that risk management messages to young girls isn’t victim blaming, the message came across in the opposite context, sounding patronizing. An article on Jezebel talkng about this twitter hashtag also addresses the Punch article, saying: “While I’m sure that the person who wrote the article had good intentions in mind, I’m also sure that this kind of advice gets exhausting and is pretty f****** patronizing. For the most part, we ladies know not to walk home alone at night. We know not to accept drinks from strangers. We know that getting black-out drunk should probably be avoided. We know.”
The hashtag is full of satirical posts offering “advice” and “tips” to women in the same theme as the messages we’ve been getting for years – “Don’t wear revealing clothing” (we know), “don’t drink too much” (we know). Basically, both this hashtag and the articles written in response to the one on The Punch are saying that women aren’t stupid. We don’t need more people telling us what we should do to avoid sexual assault, especially when most of the things they’re telling us are things we already know, or that are common sense. We know what to do to protect ourselves because we are at risk by just being a woman, and because we live in a rape culture (where rape is not necessarily seen as acceptable, but is seen as something that happens in our society that we need to learn how to deal with).
This is not to say that all education techniques are wasted on our society, because it’s very true that there are women who might not know how to deal with this kind of situation and certainly there are young girls who haven’t been introduced to the unfortunate state of our society regarding rape and sexual assault. Yes, we should be educating women on how to stay safe, but we should also stop trying to tell adult women that all they need to do to stay safe is to wear less revealing clothing, don’t go out drinking, and don’t walk alone when its dark outside. Not because all women necessarily know not to do these things, but because we should be able to do these things without fear of being attacked. That’s what rape culture is, and we’re living it in America.
On a lighter note, here are some of my favorite tweets from the hashtag, and if you search “safety tips for ladies” on twitter, you can see them all for yourselves.