A study released in February 2014 in the Lancet medical journal says 16.4 per cent of women 15 years old or older in Australia and New Zealand have been the victim of sexual assault by someone who wasn’t their partner (i.e. other family members, friends, strangers). This compares to the global average of 7.2 per cent.
When the fabulously “just so wrong its right” comedian Sarah Silverman tweeted her “Ten Rape Prevention Tips” in March, naturally lots of people, mainly men, accused her of being a “man hater” and seemed to think that she was claiming that all men were potential rapists.
1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.
4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.
5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is not to rape her.
6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.
7. Remember, people go to the laundry room to do their laundry. Do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
8. Use the buddy system! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.
9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find you are about to rape someone, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop you.
10. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When you are asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be raping her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign you do not plan to rape her.
She was, in fact, highlighting the common double standard in how rape is treated in the world. It is in essence a reversal of the type of “how to avoid rape” tips given to women, with the onus placed upon the potential victim, not the prospective offender. We will never reduce sexual violence if perpetrators are allowed to hide behind language that implicitly or explicitly blames victims. The simple fact underlined by the list Silverman tweeted is that rape is a choice – one that the rapist makes.