If I were to write a personal ad for Liz Funk, it would go something like this:
SWF seeks tall, manly-man writer or psudeo-intellectual singer-songwriter who appeals to the ‘tween set. Interests include long walks on the beach, John Mayer, playing dress-up in feminist clothes, slut-shaming, woman-bashing, and rape apologism. And Gary, if you’re out there, call me!
I’m not one to play feminist police, but damn if this isn’t one of those moments where I’d love to take away someone’s membership card. So, because Ms. Funk seems to be a little on the slow side when it comes to catching on to basic feminist theory, here’s the 101: Feminists don’t hate women. And that is why you, Liz, are no feminist.
Feminists don’t blame women for being raped or attacked, or attempt to obscure that blame with “concern.” Feminists don’t shame women for having the audacity to leave their homes, or walk outside alone, or have a drink. Good feminist writers also do some basic research before they end their articles with stuff like this:
But even with laws and initiatives and special public precautions in place, Quinn acknowledged that young people “who go out at night remain at risk until they get back home.”
If she had done some very basic research, she would have discovered that home is often more dangerous than being out at a bar. After all, two thirds of sexual assault survivors were attacked by someone they knew — 40% of those attackers were a friend or acquaintance, and 28% an intimate partner. Seven percent were relatives. A woman is raped every 2 1/2 minutes. And 5.3 million women suffer from intimate partner violence every year in the United States alone. About 1300 of those women will die from that violence, and millions will be seriously injured. Twenty percent of nonfatal violence directed at women in 2003 came at the hand of an intimate partner.
But yes, women are at risk until they return home.
I was disappointed to see this article run on AlterNet, but even more frustrated to see that it originated from Women’s eNews, a great organization that I used to write for many, many moons ago. They employ great writers and have a fantastic editorial staff, and I’m unclear on how a piece like this made it past the decidedly feminist women who run the site. I’d suggest that anyone who is similarly outraged by the article contact the WeNews editorial staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the bottom of this post I’ll include a list of all the blogs I can find that have written about this issue; feel free to link to this post and the rest of them in your email.
But continuing with the article itself. The Alternet version of the article starts like this:
Bars and clubs often pay young, pretty women to attract more business. For owners, that means a boost in image and revenue. For women, it means an increased risk of harassment, or even rape.
Being born a woman means an increased risk of harassment, or even rape. Of course, being born a man means that you have a much higher chance of being physically assaulted in public than women do. You have a higher chance of being murdered, too — but no one uses that as a reason to tell men that they’re “putting themselves at risk” by leaving their homes. Perhaps this is because the majority of violent crimes like rape, assault and murder are also committed by men.
Let’s do the math: Men commit the majority of violent crimes. Men are more likely to be victims of violent crimes. But it’s women who are putting themselves at risk when they go out to a bar or club.
While there are no statistics or national studies about the incidence of bars breaking laws and doing what they can to attract young and underage women, Gary Miller, a senior at New York University, said it’s an open secret.
The secret burst into the new York City headlines, however, in July 2006. In a second homicide that summer in the city involving a young woman who had been drinking to excess, 18-year-old Jennifer Moore left one of the city’s most exclusive lounges intoxicated. Walking alone in the early morning hours along the city’s West Side Highway, she was abducted and raped. Two days later she was found disemboweled in a dumpster in Weehawken, N.J.
Stupid, stupid Jennifer Moore. Clearly, the feminist answer is to tell women to stay in their homes instead of, say, telling men to not rape and kill women.
Over 70,000 alcohol-related date rapes a year are committed among students aged 18 to 24, according to “Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility,” a 2004 report from the National Academies. The report also finds that 29 percent of those between 15 and 17, and 37 percent of those between 18 and 24, said that alcohol or drugs influenced their decision to do something sexual.
I won’t get into how I feel about the term “date rape.”
Funk’s implication is essentially that women who get drunk are inviting rape upon themselves. “Alcohol-related rape” sounds like the attack was some sort of accident, like an alcohol-related car crash.
It’s more like an alcohol-related intentional hit-and-run.
The Women’s eNews article includes a picture of two blonde women with the caption reading, “Two women at a New York bar.” Just sitting there. Waiting to be raped.
Amanda compares Funk’s logic to that of the sheik who blamed women’s uncovered hair and bodies for their own rapes. And the comparison is pretty spot-on — both assume that women somehow tempt rapists or make themselves available to them, and if women were only more self-protective, rape wouldn’t happen.
Of course, we all know that’s not true. Perhaps it makes women like Liz feel better to think that if she just doesn’t go out clubbing like those women, or doesn’t dress like those women, she’ll be safe. I wish it were true that women could completely protect themselves from being attacked. I wish it were true that if we just tell women one more time that if they take that self-defense class, or carry mace, or don’t get drunk, or don’t dress like that, or stay away from strangers, they’ll be safe.
It’s wishful thinking. And I’m sorry to see a so-called “feminist” and what is normally a great feminist website feeding into it.
I’ll be writing a letter to the editors of Women’s eNews. I hope you’ll do so as well.
Updates with other feminist blogs covering this one will be coming soon. Leave any links in the comments.
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