Is stating "Women can change their behavior to lessen their chance of sexual assault" misogynistic?

Based on recent ATMB threads and various warnings, and the fact that posters seem to think that posting a contrary opinion on certain topics won’t automatically get a warning, I would like to see if basics facts, when posted as a legitimate, sincerely held belief, can actually get a discussion going.

In the recent past, my statement that “If a woman just stayed at home, locked in her bedroom wearing a burka, it would significantly lower her chances of being assaulted” was deemed “racist and misogynistic”

Can a factual statement be considered “racist and misogynistic”? That seems strange to me. Sure, arguing that in ATMB wasn’t the best choice of venues, but the addition of “racist and misogynistic” to my warning annoys me, since I’m not racist nor misogynistic. (not arguing the mod decisions here)

So my statement was posted as a “could” and not a “should”. I, in no way, shape, or form, suggest, imply, recommend, or believe that a woman should alter her behavior to avoid sexual assault. But it seems disingenuous to say, as Banquet Bear did, that it is not possible for a woman to lessen her chances of assault by altering her behavior. Everyone can lesson their chances of adverse consequences by altering their behavior. Seems strange to me that this one thing should be any different.

People feel blamed when you say that they could/should have done something differently. If you were hit by a car while crossing the street, at the crosswalk, during a green light, and everyone starts asking, “But did you look both ways? Are you sure you weren’t drinking? Maybe you shouldn’t have been out talking with friends.” Well, that’s annoying and largely misses the point that you had fair reason to believe that crossing the street at the crosswalk, when given the go signal, should be a safe activity. And, certainly, being told that “you could just stay indoors with one of those inflatable sumo outfits on and this wouldn’t be something you would ever really need to worry about again” isn’t a particularly useful thing to say and the person who says it probably just deserves getting slapped.

But yes, it is true and yes there are things that people could do to be more safe. that doesn’t make them guilty of anything or wrong in any way. They do have a reasonable expectation that they should be able to live without having to act like a giant target for ill-doers and it is entirely the fault of the ill-doer for doing ill.

But, your reasons for telling them what they could do differently could be anything from excessive logicalness to the exclusion of the fact that you’re simply being annoying by making true but impractical and silly suggestions or, frequently, that you’re being patronizing or sexist and think that the person really needs to be told this information by you, the greatest mind ever born with two testicles attached to it.*

Personally, as the logical sort, I’d vote that it’s probably more useful to stop going to places where people are drinking to socialize - humanity will figure out a way to chat and move things to the next stage (whichever direction that’s going to go), you don’t actually need liquor to facilitate it - but useful advice is worse than useless advice, so far as people are generally concerned.

  • Not addressed to the OP, I’m just listing out personality types.

I kinda see your point. I mean, if I never get in the ocean I’ll never be eaten by sharks, right? The statement you made is just so loaded. People take it to mean what you, specifically, IMO, didn’t mean it to say.
Of course women, or anyone, shouldn’t have to be locked away or hidden behind certain types of clothing to be safe. I think any rational person believes that.
I raised girls. I told them countless times to keep their guard up. Know their surroundings. Don’t get in cars with strange guys. Use the buddy system. Watch out for each other. I encouraged them not to dress seductively. As a Mom, I felt it necessary and prudent to do so. I would never, ever tell my adult friends that. Or accuse someone of being in the wrong if she does dress a certain way and gets attacked. I’m afraid it’s just so easy to do, though.

Could you please link to the exchange you’re talking about? It’s hard to get a clear idea of how your statement might have come across without seeing the context of the conversation.

“Lock yourself in your room” while statistically true, is largely disingenuous and so true it becomes irrelevant.
“Don’t get drunk at a bar and go to a shady hotel with a total stranger” is solid advice.
“It shouldn’t be like that” is also true, but unhelpful.

So, yeah, it doesn’t have to be misogynistic, but it has to be frames in the best possible way.
“Don’t go alone at night through the rough parts of town” doesn’t mean your are to be blamed for being mugged, that falls squarely on the mugger, still, exercising caution is good.

Most of the advice for avoiding assaults of any kind, for any gender, falls under the category of “situational awareness”. I think that the main situation in which people are at risk of sexual assault are environments where alcohol is being used. A room full of drunk people needs to be viewed as basically a room full of primitive apes. If you’re going to enter that environment and especially if you are going to be participating in the drinking, you need to be aware of the limit of how much alcohol you can consume before losing your situational awareness.

I don’t think women need to be advised to change their “behavior” in the sense of how they dress, how they talk, or whatever. They should be advised, though, to monitor their awareness and reflexes.

The point isn’t that a woman could spend her days sitting in a windowless room, with a crossbow ready and aimed at the only, triple-locked door - and in doing that strenuously reduce any chance of assault on her person, sexual or otherwise. The point is that not only they shouldn’t have to, but it IS misogynistic to suggest they could when you don’t suggest that, say, the victim of a mugging couldashoulda stayed home or not carried a wallet or be walking the streets like some brazen money-having piñata. Nor does a person run over by a drunk driver get admonished that they knew there were cars out there and people drinking, and if they’d only stayed away from any street, road or carriage lane in the state then their misfortune wouldn’t have happened now would it ?
Well, I’m a guy, and a bit of a drunk. I’ve been to bars alone. I’ve passed out in streets and subways, I’ve wandered aimlessly around in darkened streets, singing my liver out. I even woke up without wallet or phone a couple times. Cost of doing drunken business. Nobody ever suggested that I should just stay home, or only go out drinking on the buddy system, or even decline the ever-present invitations of all the strange, luscious ladies who crave my body night after night (irresistible sex appeal being my cross to bear). The only victims of crime who *ever *get tut-tutted and wagged fingers at for their “behaviour” are women who get molested. That’s what misogynistic about that line of argument. It’s implicitly a form of blaming the victim, and suggesting that women being out in public living their lives are somehow Doing It Wrong.

Sure, but I’m not sure how to do it. But here is the thread where a poster said The claim “it is a simple fact that the woman can reduce her chances of being assaulted significantly by changing her behavior” is not a “simple fact.”

And I disagreed with that. And used hyperbole to point out how ridiculous that statement was, but then was accused of being racist and misogynistic.

Sorry: This was a response to Kimstu, and I forgot to quote and was late.

I’m going to say no. It’s an obvious fact that people can mitigate risk. But when obvious fact collides with fervently believed ideology or ideology that is fervently promoted don’t expect facts to triumph.

You also said:

Which is… Let’s say doubtful. Considering that spousal rape is a thing, as is other assault that takes place in the home.

This was an exchange that was getting kind of ridiculous, but nonetheless.

That’s not true. People who are victims of all sorts of crimes or accidents are admonished and potential victims are warned all the time. Look at something like a ladder.

I agree. But I would tell someone who said “A person cannot change their behavior to lesson their chances of being mugged” the same thing.

I was simply responding to the poster who said "The claim “it is a simple fact that the woman can reduce her chances of being assaulted significantly by changing her behavior” is not a “simple fact.”

Seems like a simple fact to me.

Notice that it is “can” and not “should”

That’s fair. For the purposes of this question, can we assume that I meant “assaulted by people who don’t normally have access to them in their home”?

Your exact example was, “If a woman just stayed at home, locked in her bedroom wearing a burka, it would significantly lower her chances of being assaulted.”

Except that Nearly half of female rape victims were raped by a current or former partner.

Given that these partners are in the home, and the current partners likely have access to the bedroom lock, the claim that spending MORE time at home is going to reduce the risk of assault is questionable, not the “simple fact” you think it is.

More than that, though, did you really think your point was so unassailable and cogent and amazing that, even when you’d been cautioned away from pursuing it, barrelling ahead was your best move? When people are telling you to slow your roll, might be worth slowing it.

Why the hell would we assume you meant that, instead of assuming you just hadn’t thought the whole thing through?

I guess, but then the question becomes : what’s the purpose of your saying that at all ?

Yes, this is something that I’m dreading as my daughter gets older. It pains me to know that she will be subjected to things my son is not. And blaming someone for their mistakes is a common human nature. But there is no mistake that my daughter can make that causes another person to assault her. But their ARE behaviors she can follow to lessen that chance. But I wouldn’t blame her afterward if she didn’t follow any of them.

There are at least two problems:

One is that you appear to be responding to a problem caused by the rapists’ behavior by telling the victims to change their behavior. It’s not their behavior that causes the problem, it’s the behavior of the rapists. You may think you’re not telling women to change their behavior: but what else is the point of the comment?

The other is that you appear to be presuming that rape is primarily an issue of easy opportunity, and that a rapist who doesn’t get an extremely easy opportunity will just give up and not rape anybody. Probably a few of them will, but a lot of them won’t. People do get raped inside their own homes, inside their own bedrooms. People wearing burkas get raped. Nuns in habits get raped. Rapists stalk people. They break into houses. They lie in wait for entirely sober people who are just trying to get home from work. They attack people who are at work, in their workplaces. All of these things happen. The rapist who can’t find a drunk college student at a party may just go looking for one who’s studying in the library, or in the dorm. [ETA: Or may marry the victim, or otherwise move in with the victim.]

If you’ve got to make statements about women changing their behavior, try recommending self-defense courses. That doesn’t come across as badly as ‘you could just spend your life hiding under the bed’; and a good one will teach situational awareness and warning signs, as well as things that can be done that don’t require locking oneself up.

A friend of mine was raped by a stranger who broke in. I was assaulted by an ex boyfriend who broke in. Another friend was raped by a family friend in her own room. None of us were wearing burkas, though. Perhaps that would have made all the difference.

Because another poster said that behavior can’t be altered to lessen the chances. And I rebutted him. That’s the only reason.

It’s in the “technically true but practically useless” bucket. Generally speaking, when people ask the question “what can a person do in order to…” there’s an implicit “that’s not overly burdensome, time-consuming, ridiculous, or expensive” in the middle of it. If you’re having a serious conversation, people will tend to exclude the ones that are overly burdensome, time-consuming etc from the list. If you don’t do that, then yeah, people will act like you’re just yanking their chain for the fun of it.

Of course, staying locked in your room wearing a burka will totally decrease your chance of rape, because by the end of the first week or so you will have starved to death. Being slightly less literal, I believe that instances of rape in countries where women wear burkas and stay locked in their rooms only *most *of the time, have no better rape rates than countries where people act like normal human beings (most of the rapes being perpetrated by family members like, say, husbands)