Laura Herrick, a contributor to the Kansas City Star’s “Midwest Voices” section, has some thoughts on how women can prevent rape. So many, many thoughts. At the risk of ruining the surprise: Every single one of them is bad.
The post has been deleted since it was published on Friday (HUH), but lucky for us, a tipster sent Jezebel screen shots of the original story before it was pulled.
Buckle up for a wild journey back through time, past several waves of feminism to a place where it’s the axiomatic expectation of women to quit asking to be raped by getting too drunk, to not “yell rape” when what you really meant was “oops!” and to stop hawing about equal rights if you’re not actually prepared to take equal responsibility for your drunken actions (getting raped). But I’m getting ahead of myself. To the excerpts!
Herrick starts with preemptive defense, possibly at the urging of an editor who sensed a gathering storm in the distance but decided, unwisely, to ignore it.
“I empathize with women who have been raped,” she writes, adding “I would also like to remind men that ‘no means no’ (and if someone is too drunk to say no, then no is implied); that no matter what a woman wears or does, she isn’t ‘asking for it.”
She then spends the rest of the piece asserting literally exactly those things. It’s almost poetic; the contradictions are so flagrant they could catch fire:
I saw a quote on Facebook that said, “When a woman drinks too much she expects to wake up the next day hung over, not raped.” I agree.
But as women, shouldn’t we take responsibility for our bodies by not becoming so intoxicated that we don’t know what is happening? Every woman should know her drink limit and stop there.
No, she’s not asking to be raped by being drunk. But isn’t it her responsibility to reduce the risk by not getting to that point? And if you wake up the morning after doing the ‘walk of shame’ don’t yell rape if you regret your actions of the night before.
Accept your role in what happened, learn from the experience and move on.
Accept that as a woman, you will never be 100 percent safe around men. Don’t squander your irretrievable youth fighting to be seen as something more than an object available for the taking: It causes wrinkles.
She goes on to add that if women want to be taken seriously in our quest for equality, we really should stop yawping “rape” every time we regret a lighthearted sexual caper. It makes the real rape victims—whoever they are, Herrick does not say—look bad. “Every woman who falsely accuses a man of rape makes the battle harder for women who are actually raped,” she writes, adding that it also unfairly tarnishes men’s reputations. And:
When men drink, their decision-making abilities are also limited. If a woman was too drunk to know what she was doing and should be excused for what happened, then why are men not allowed to be too drunk to make good decisions?
And if a woman is so intoxicated that she can’t remember giving consent for sex, then how can she know that she didn’t give consent?
If she was so drunk she was unable to make good judgments, then how can we be sure that she has any idea what actually happened?
Herrick notes specifically that she is not referring to “extreme situations” such as “the Stanford incident.” If a drunk man with “limited decision making ability” is not precisely what she means, than who the hell is she talking about? If she’s not censuring his victim, who was too drunk to walk and certainly too drunk to consent, than who, exactly, is this missive intended to reach?
“Men, stop acting like animals,” she concludes. And women?
“And women, take charge of your bodies and your sexuality by being sober enough to stop unwanted advances and sober enough to actually enjoy sex when you choose to have it.”
Stop drinking, it makes you more susceptible to rape. Stop wearing revealing clothes. Stop going outside, stop living your life, because the system ain’t gonna change, baby. Herrick has chosen to use her platform—as a writer and, as her bio states, a public school teacher for 25 years—to remind women and girls that they should always be careful, always be afraid, and that no matter what, the burden of ensuring our safety will always be unduly ours to bear.
Luckily, these hoary tropes have been left in the past, relegated to the same dustbins that hold other absurd, laughable, antiquated notions. Because surely no sane, politically engaged (columnist, woman, human) in 2016 thinks those things anymore, right? Right?
Herrick has not responded to requests for comment.
(h/t Emily|Image via the Pitch)