Ms. Zerlina Maxwell went on national television to speak to the issue of how to prevent sexual assault in today’s society. Her idea is a simple one, and not new to most modern day advocates against sexual assault: teach men not to rape.
This, however, is a shocking idea for many who have only been exposed to suggestions of how to avoid becoming a victim, things we’ve heard all too frequently, a list of what (mainly) women should NOT do: Don’t go out alone, don’t hang out in dark alleys, don’t get too drunk, don’t be vulnerable, don’t park in a desolate area, don’t lead someone on. Other suggestions include taking self-defense classes, keeping pepper spray on your person, having a rape whistle, using the buddy system… but do these things keep rape from happening?
The fact is that this is not PREVENTION, but “risk reduction” methods. As a potential victim, one can utilize all of these methods, without success. The one person who can prevent a rape from happening? The perpetrator.
If every individual was taught and made the individual conscious decision NEVER TO VIOLATE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING, who would be left to perpetrate these crimes? But, obviously, we are not teaching our children, our teens, the right messages to keep them from thinking they somehow have a right to the bodies of others.
Unfortunately, not everyone agreed with Ms. Maxwell and she received accusations and THREATS OF RAPE via social media sites. Zerina Maxwell is a survivor of rape and has been unable to bring herself to access her social media sites due to this disgusting and triggering terrorization- which could not prove Ms. Maxwell’s point any better. The education and sensitization of the population is simply not there.
I stand by Zerina Maxwell. I have taught countless students through the Violence Against Women Prevention Program that, sadly, potential victims CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH to prevent themselves from being raped or assaulted. Instead we need to teach potential perpetrators about how to be decent human beings. We need to change this “rape culture” that accepts and supports sexism and misogyny, this rape culture that we live in and potentiate.
In solidarity with Ms. Maxwell, I’m sharing posters from one of my favorite campaigns started by the organization, SAVE (Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton).
The campaign’s slogan, “Don’t be that guy”, targets men as potential perpetrators. It’s important to note that not all perpetrators are men, however 9/10 are. The campaign does a good job representing different scenarios where sexual assault commonly occurs- where the perpetrator is someone the victim “knows”, either closely or as an acquaintance (as in 2/3 sexual assaults according to RAINN.org); rape can and frequently does occur in relationships, in marriages. You can check out the organization’s message here: http://www.savedmonton.com.