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Thread: What do you do to avoid sexual assault?

  1. #31
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    I am reminded of a story one of my brothers told me.

    He was in a Muslim-majority country, at a university, taking a summer-long intensive course in that country's language. His classmates were a mix of men and women from around the world. Many of the women commented frequently that they could not go into the city by themselves, but had to go in a group, and even then the harassment from men on the street was difficult to deal with. They felt that part of this was because they were women unaccompanied by a man and part because they clearly were not natives of the country.

    My brother thought they were either exaggerating or overreacting.

    Until one woman asked him to accompany her downtown for an errand. He was shocked at the catcalls, the attempts to pinch her rear end, the slurs that were yelled at her--he understood enough of the language to translate most of what was said. And this was when she was accompanied by a man--something that should have reduced this behavior to next to nothing.

    My brother is an intelligent, college-educated guy with two Masters degrees. He wasn't married at the time, but he has two sisters and a mother. As far as I know, he treats women the way he should. Why did he think those women were exaggerating their treatment at the hands of the local men? Why did he not believe them?

    When I questioned him as to why he didn't believe the women until he had witnessed the behavior, he really didn't have any explanation, other than he just thought they were misinterpreting things or making something big out of something very little. He had no explanation as to why he would think that way, just that he did.

    The mindset that women are lying/exaggerating about sexual assault is deeply embedded in our cultural psyche. The result of this is that women to some degree are always on alert, always wary, always on the lookout for men who might do them harm. And we blame the victim--Why did she wear that dress? Why did she leave the window open? Why did she take the bus and not drive? Instead of asking: Why did the men think they could assault women with impunity?

    We see the same thinking in a lot of high school dress codes. The girls are told to dress in a manner that "won't distract the boys." The boys tend to have far fewer restrictions on their clothing. And girls are removed from class to deal with dress code violations. Recently, I read of a girl who was taken out of class during a quiz because the knee of her jeans was ripped. She missed the remainder of the quiz and was not allowed to make it up. Granted, her clothing should have met the dress code requirements--but a phone call home or a short detention would have been more suitable consequences, rather than directly affecting her grade in the class.

    Some high school dress codes are so restrictive that girls can only wear a crew-neck t shirt or a button-down shirt that is buttoned all the way up. Otherwise their collarbones will show. And collarbones are distracting to the boys. Who knew? I consider myself a prude and a pretty modest dresser, and nearly all my tops expose more than what these girls are allowed.

    Why aren't we teaching the boys how not to be distracted instead? Rather than policing the width of the girls' shoulder straps, that time and effort should be put into teaching young men how to deal with being near women.

    We need to stop blaming the victim and start blaming those who violate others.

  2. #32
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    I taught my 3 boys to respect girls, not to hit a girl even if they hit you,etc.

  3. #33
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Mis Cellaneous, my DH did not believe that men or boys acted that way because he wouldn't do any harm to women. It was incomprehensible to him that people should conduct themselves this way. It had to be a lie. Years ago, we watched a movie on TV where a young girl was being gang-raped at the outset. I got really upset. He tried to reassure me that it was just a story as these sorts of things didn't really happen. I blew up at his naivety and disbelief and walked away.

    The disbelief of women who have not experienced severe trauma and the disbelief of men who cannot conceive of doing so along with their disbelief of the long-term impact of sexual assault is a serious barrier to correcting the situation. Until you walk in another's shoes, it is beyond comprehension.

    That is the tragedy!

  4. #34
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    Mis Cellaneous, my DH did not believe that men or boys acted that way because he wouldn't do any harm to women. It was incomprehensible to him that people should conduct themselves this way. It had to be a lie. Years ago, we watched a movie on TV where a young girl was being gang-raped at the outset. I got really upset. He tried to reassure me that it was just a story as these sorts of things didn't really happen. I blew up at his naivety and disbelief and walked away.

    The disbelief of women who have not experienced severe trauma and the disbelief of men who cannot conceive of doing so along with their disbelief of the long-term impact of sexual assault is a serious barrier to correcting the situation. Until you walk in another's shoes, it is beyond comprehension.

    That is the tragedy!
    So these guys don't believe crime exists because they wouldn't commit one? Or is it just crimes committed against women they feel that way about? Misogyny runs deep.

  5. #35
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    I think that they may have experienced dishonesty and discourtesy so believe that it happens but sexual assault is treated very differently by both men and women disbelievers.

    I wonder if they ever realize and understand that because of their disbelief their children and family members and friends will never be able to ask for help if assaulted. It is painful to ask for help because the individual feels that s/he must have done something wrong to make this assault happen and to expose that degree of pain is very difficult.
    Sexual assault in churches and other organizations or other situations occurred and continues to occur because it is enabled by the disbelievers.

    In their self-interest, disbelievers will not have to do anything or change their thinking if they believe and continue to believe that nothing really happened or if something did happen, it is nothing serious needing attention.

    Disbelievers are the enablers of abuse, IMHO.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  6. #36
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    Yes, Razz.

  7. #37
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    I'm glad more people are speaking up. We have to break down the disbelief and myths, and those that feel comfortable doing so should always feel free to talk about their experiences.

    This week I heard a woman telling her story to a coworker. She said she had never told anyone but her husband before, but she had to speak up since we are faced with an abuser in the highest court in the land.

    Another woman today in Dollar Tree told her supervisor in front of customers that No, I cannot work the shift you want me to "because I walk [to work] and I have to go when someone can come with me because I have a stalker."

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