Rape Analogy: The “Walking in a Bad Neighborhood” Theory – The Sexist – Washington City Paper

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/02/23/rape-analogy-the-walking-in-a-bad-neighborhood-theory/

Perhaps I should copy the entire article, but since I already fear that this selection is too long for most readers, I decided not to. But it is worth reading, so visit the site!

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/02/23/rape-analogy-the-walking-in-a-bad-neighborhood-theory/

“Acting like a woman, in many ways, involves performing behaviors that are out of the ordinary: shaving your entire body, coloring your lips and cheeks, lengthening your eyelashes, extending your legs on high heels, “doing” your hair, dieting obsessively, waxing, plucking, padding your breasts, painting your nails, stuffing your tummy into tight spandex casings, wearing skirts and dresses and pantyhose and earrings. The behaviors associated with femininity occupy a strange space in our culture. While they are obsessively reinforced as “normal” behaviors for women, they simultaneously work to situate women as abnormal, different, “other.”

To the average heterosexual cisgender man, refraining from performing these behaviors is just a fact of life. For women, these feminizing behaviors are enforced from birth, and are extremely difficult to avoid. And when women do refrain from performing these behaviors – when they don’t shave their body hair, don’t cinch their waists and inflate their breasts, don’t teeter on high heels, don’t wear makeup, and don’t wear skirts, just like men don’t – they risk being dismissed as “abnormal” women. In a culture where the privileged experience of the average heterosexual cisgender man is the baseline for “normal,” women are seen as outsiders no matter how they act.

And so when a woman is sexually assaulted – no matter what she’s doing – it’s easy for the culture at large to insist that she’s done something out of the ordinary to bring it upon herself. Because women’s lives are out of the “ordinary.” Because heterosexual cisgender men are born with the privilege of not being systematically targeted as victims of sexual assault. When you say that women who wear too-short skirts, or too-high heels, or too much make up are not sufficiently protecting themselves against rape, what you are really saying is that women who act too much like women deserve to be raped. When you say that women who drink with the boys, or have casual sex like the boys, or walk alone like the boys are not sufficiently protecting themselves against rape, what you are really saying is that women who don’t act enough like women deserve to be raped. And what you are really saying is that women deserve to be raped because they’re women. In a culture where women’s behavior is viewed as alien, it is this attitude that qualifies as “normal.”

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