Dear Ms. Rosenkranz,
We have seen multiple stories now – first in the Ramapo News from Ramapo College, but then in Jezebel, in Addicting Info, in the Telegraph – about how you recommended that female students practice their “anti-rape faces in the mirror”. Or words to that effect.
That’s not prevention, Ms. Rosenkranz. That’s victim-blaming. We don’t need to practice our anti-rape faces. Any face we make is an anti-rape face.
Prevention is focusing on changing a rape culture that perpetuates the myth that men’s rape of women as inevitable. Prevention is acting to change social norms about men’s beliefs about their entitlement to women’s bodies, and the eliminating the behaviors that follow those beliefs. And prevention is teaching women how to physically and verbally thwart an attempted sexual assault.
Women do not invite rape by how they look, or what they wear, or the expression on their faces. Or by their perceived attractiveness, or their relationship status, or their sexual orientation, or the color of their skin. Or anything else.
We want to reduce women’s risk for assault, Ms. Rosenkranz. We assume you do, too. But if you want to make women safer, empower them – don’t blame them. Encourage your campus to offer self-defense classes that, as the data show, actually reduce the chance that they will be raped and increase women’s feelings of confidence and empowerment.
We assume your goal is to reduce sexual assault on your campus, Ms. Rosenkranz. But making faces doesn’t make people stop raping. Action does. And that’s why we are writing to you, rather than making a “we don’t like what you’re saying” face.
Women’s faces/bodies/clothes/words/behaviors DO NOT invite rape, and rape prevention is not about withdrawing an invitation. So please – check the data, and get your facts straight.
Jill Cermele and Martha McCaughey