I posted my thoughts about the Stanford rape case to my FB feed. As could have been predicted, I was called a victim blamer. I was told “TELL MEN NOT TO RAPE…”. So, I had to respond, again. Here is what I wrote:
My parents taught me vigilance, situational awareness, and threat assessment. They didn’t call it that–law enforcement agencies would call it that. They just called it “being careful”. The first thing they taught me in this regard was to not talk to strangers. Later, when we would go into Detroit, my mom would go into hyper-vigilance mode because the crime rate in the city is much higher than it is in the suburbs. In elementary school they warned us about not talking to men in cars that would offer candy to children. As I got older they warned me about having the wrong friends because the wrong friends can get you into trouble. As I got old enough to drive, they told me to slow down when it is raining or snowing. I remember the warning to be extra careful driving after midnight and especially after 2 AM because the bars close and there will be more drunks on the road.
I know people who naturally make threat assessments. For my relatives in the Detroit metro area, if they are driving in their car in the city and their low gas light comes on, they automatically do a threat calculus in their head. They look at how much gas is left and whether they have enough gas to get to Warren, Eastpointe, or some other suburb that is not in the city. They would rather get off the highway and buy gas in the suburbs than to have to buy gas in the city. It’s the same in Tulsa. If the same happened near 61st and Peoria, careful folks would rather drive into Brookside to get their gas or go to 71st.
In Tulsa, as a man, I have felt comfortable running LaFortune Park or Riverside all alone after dark. I have never felt in danger or assault–sexual or other. However, I have read in the newspaper of women running alone and being assaulted. I would not recommend a woman to run alone after dark along Riverside or LaFortune. I would recommend she run with a group because it is safer. If I see a woman running alone after dark along LaFortune or Riverside I shake my head and then say a prayer for her safety.
As a college student, I went to frat house parties or other house parties. For me, as a male, the threat of sexual assault was practically nil. The vast majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men against women. My danger at a party was getting punched by being in the crossfire of a fight. Some drunk college age men, or even older drunk men, have a tendency to get violent. When I went to parties, I went with a group of friends and we went and returned home together. If someone in our group had to much to drink, the others in the group would help him home. On occasion, that was me that needed the help.
When I visited Nuevo Laredo last year, I had several hundreds of dollars to donate to a ministry that feeds the poor in Nuevo Laredo. I was visiting the home of the people in charge and they had children over and they were feeding them in their front patio. We were talking and I started to reach for my wallet to give the donation. The man quickly put a hand on my arm and looked at me as if I was stupid. He quickly took me to the back patio and told me that there are people watching and it was not safe to give him the money in the open like that–neither safe for me nor safe for him. I did not have the situational awareness to know that it was a threat.
I wished we lived in a safe world. My experience has taught me that church socials are safer places than college house parties. If you want to tell your daughters that the two are equal and that it is safe to be all alone and get blackout drunk at a college house party, go ahead and be my guest. In the meantime, I will tell my daughter, nieces, and maybe future granddaughters to be careful. I’ll tell them to travel in groups, don’t get separated from the group, don’t get drunk, and don’t get blackout drunk. Even better, avoid such parties altogether.
If you want to say I’m victim blaming, bravo to you. Have fun.
If you want to say “men don’t rape”–I’ll just say don’t be a misandrist. The men I know who are relatives or friends don’t rape. Rapists rape. Saying “men don’t rape” is about the same as Donald Trump calling an ethnic group that starts with M a bunch of rapists.