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(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.

safety tips hilary


safety tips kim safety tips leslie

safety tips conna




  1. pammiano says:

    Rape is not a funny subject, but those are definitely funny tweets – I had to check it out – a favorite of mine: “Password protect your vagina using numbers, letters and special characters” – a classic sign of our times.

    Comments like these help to expose the absurity of some of the “preventive measures” women are told to take. Thinking about our reading by Debra Ann Davis (Betrayed by the Angel…”) – all she did was open the her own door. So now we don’t open doors? Crazy

    Bottom line – ONLY the rapist can prevent rape.

  2. jsegrist says:

    Even though rape is no joke and I do know that nothing prevents rape besides the rapist, I do find humor in approaches like these tweets. It makes it much more obvious that women are the ones being blamed for rape and we are supposed to take so many precautions to avoid it. It isn’t about our outfit or the way we talk; if a woman doesn’t say yes, then she isn’t consenting.

  3. jjschult says:

    I’ve been fighting with myself on whether or not to comment and risk the flaming, but their are no wrong opinions right?, so here it goes. I’ve had the discussion of rape culture and blaming with quite a few friends of mine, and with many close girlfriends, and 6 sisters I like to think I’m decently equipped to look at this topic from two sides.

    The one thing that has always frustrated me about this “rape culture” topic is the theory that all responsibility is removed from the hypothetical victim, now please do not misunderstand me and think I mean blame. It is never a women’s fault, blame is solely on the perpetrator, however women (and men) have a responsibility to take care of themselves and minimize risks. When I hear my friends talk about how they should be able to wear whatever they want, go wherever they want, and drink whenever they want, I cringe a little. In a perfect world, that is absolutely true, but that is not the world we live in. The world we live in is tough and scary at times and should be treated as such. Ladies I’m not saying that you are asking to be victimized when you head out to the club or a party, but from a male stand point I will 100% guarantee you the attention that is drawn too you increases exponentially depending on the outfits chosen and behavior exhibited, which means the odds just went up that some creep is checking you out and calculating the risk.

    As a guy I have the privilege not to have to worry about such an attack, but I do know what fear feels like. I spend a lot of time in Detroit photographing abandoned buildings, I could ignore the fact that the possibility of being robbed/jumped is present because I shouldn’t have to worry about it or I accept that it’s their and deal with it head on. When I’m out and about I don’t wear flashy clothes/jewelry, I’m always with at least one other person, and we very rarely go anywhere at night. Just because it won’t be my fault if I get robbed doesn’t mean it isn’t my responsibility to protect myself. I understand that you don’t have the luxury of leaving your valuables at home, because you yourself are the valuable, that just means I would want to do more to protect it rather than rely on everyone else. Guys are the ones have created this problem, and as I guy I feel that it’s our responsibility to help diminish the the threat to you ladies, so help me help you.

    Lastly I realize that the number of rapes that happen because of outfits/drinks, etc. is very low, but this post was on safety tips so…

    • katieblacker says:

      I’ve been meaning to reply to this comment forever and kept forgetting to, but here goes: I understand where you’re coming from and I appreciate that we’re able to have a rational conversation about this because usually most guys that I have tried to talk to about this immediately go on the defensive. Now, while I agree with what you say about taking risk management seriously because we /do/ live in a society where there /are/ risks and we need to be aware of them, I think the point was a little bit missed in terms of this hash tag that was started and what it was trying to achieve.

      The twitter hash tag (from what I can tell) was using some really absurd “tips” to show that while women can be told over and over again not to go out drinking, and not to walk home alone, etc. etc., it doesn’t guarantee that someone isn’t still going to attempt to sexually assault them. Yes, we should teach women what to do to protect themselves, but maybe we should also try a little harder to educate young men what to do as well – and by this I mean teach them not to rape people or not to give women unwanted attention, etc. It’s a tricky topic because this insinuates that all men somehow have this primal urge to assault women, which we know isn’t the case. However, we don’t hear about men being told and educated about rape culture and how it affects women’s daily lives, women just keep hearing over and over again what they shouldn’t do if they don’t want to get attacked, as if most of the blame lies solely with them.

      I hope that makes it a little clearer? I think you make some excellent points though, and I definitely see where you’re coming from, esp. with what you said about going to Detroit and being careful what you’re wearing, etc., although I’m not sure that’s on the same level in terms of violation (at least not with what we’re talking about here).

  4. ninazm21 says:

    It’s surprising that these so called “safety-tips” are the predominate avenue implemented to deter rape crimes. It’s almost in sense telling women that if you are raped it’s your fault as the prevention of rape lies solely in the victims or potential victims hands. I think we underestimate the existence of a rape culture. The discussion around rape a vast reform there is serious need for us to shift our focus from the victim to the perpetrator.

  5. jhmanska says:

    Yes you make a good point and sadly, the onus is on women to adapt to this violent environment. If only these sexual predators and offenders could be punished according to the law. Like so many violent crimes these offenses are plead down. Sentencing is often reduced or forgiven, these are the offenders that should be required to adapt to moral society. Tips I have shared with my daughters for their personal protection courtesy of the Royal Mountain Canadian Police.


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