College Rape Prevention Program a “Rare” Success? An Open Letter to Jan Hoffman at the NY Times

Dear Ms. Hoffman,

In “College Rape Prevention Program Proves a Rare Success”, you concluded an otherwise empowering, data-driven piece on the effectiveness of self-defense by trotting out a quote from Kathleen Basile at the CDC, who ignores the data in suggesting that self-defense training places the “onus for prevention on potential victims”.   Self-defense is a key protective factor in rape prevention, as Senn’s data clearly demonstrate; no disclaimer required.  It is no more problematic to suggest women have the option of self-defense training than it is to suggest that women do a self-exam for breast cancer or wear sunscreen when they go outside.  The only difference is that we are far less comfortable with the idea of women’s use of defensive violence than we are with other, kinder, and gentler ways that we support women’s self-care.

The responsibility for rape lies with the perpetrators; suggesting that self-defense somehow shifts that responsibility to the victim is what is misguided and victim-blaming, not the option of self-defense for women.


3 responses

  1. Was this published in the NYT?

    Sent from my iPhone 6


    1. No – NYTimes has not yet published one of our letters, despite our dogmatic adherence to the word count instructions. We wait…

  2. I was thrilled that the NYT published the piece on that Canadian study. I hope the paper continues to call attention to the good work of Empowerment Based Self-Defense wherever it occurs; the overall, loud and clear message of that piece was that ESD works. We don’t get a lot of positive national coverage – when we do we need to loudly celebrate it!

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