This letter made a number of points that were poorly considered and which only serve to reinforce the victim-blaming that community activists have been speaking out against in recent weeks.
Writing this response feels repetitive, but it is impossible for me to stay silent on this.
First, the idea that any woman provokes sexual violence is precisely what we have been working to change. A woman dressing so that the shape of her body is visible, or kissing someone, is not “asking for it,” as I have already stated.
To address another point, none of the activists who are working on this issue have said that “men don’t understand.” In fact, we feel that it degrades men as well as women to continue to pretend that this is the case, and that men are unable to keep themselves from assaulting women, which is part of the thinking behind the “she asked for it” mentality.
As Roucek stated, rape is a violent crime, and it is illogical for a kiss to be considered as provocation to violence.
It is reprehensible to compare a woman’s body to a laptop left in a vehicle’s passenger seat, and to compare theft and rape. Our bodies are not our belongings, they are us. A majority of survivors of sexual assault experience emotional, and sometimes physical, trauma, which has an impact on their everyday lives.
In closing, I would like to point out that “spirited feminism” and “rational thinking” are by no means opposed to one another.
Every feminist I know has come to use that lens through a rational assessment of the world we live in, and through personal experience, which is also relevant.
– Erin Vosters
Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)