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Campaign reaction

Comparing rape to property theft

I have read several comments on here that compare 'taking sensible precautions' against being raped alongside 'taking sensible precautions' to avoid theft or burglary. Please can we stop this comparison, for several reasons.

1. Women are constantly bombarded with messages about how they can help to avoid rape, messages about their behaviour, dress, attitude etc whether this is in the form of 'helpful' chain emails or police advice to women not to walk alone at night as there is an attacker in the area. This campaign is trying to get away from lecturing women about what they can do to prevent rape to put the blame where it lies- with the rapist.

2. Comparing the unwanted abuse of a woman's body to property theft shows us just how deeply ingrained the notion of women's bodies as property is and perpetuates this idea. In very recent memory rape really was considered a property crime, against that persons 'owner' (husband/ father etc). In some parts of the world it still is.

3. You cannot compare a women just existing and going about her daily life with 'keeping valuables in plain sight'. Genitals are not valuables, they are part of a human being. Bodily autonomy cannot be locked up and hidden where no one can ever take it away.

4. Equating property theft with rape in any way shows scant respect and understanding for the magnitude of the crime and its effect on the survivor.

Author: Susan, Female, Glasgow
Date: 22/07/2010

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Replies to this post

We are all : men, women and children - bombarded with messages everyday about issues concerning our personal safety e.g. (for adults) "drink responsibly" and for children "say no to strangers" - Do you really want to take exception with these public health campaigns on the grounds that women need no such advice ?? Apart from rape there are many reasons why women out and about should take sensible precautions in terms of their own personal safety e.g. being drunk and a victim of a road traffic accident or mugging or accidental injury as a result of diminished capacity e.g. falling down the stairs leaving a nightclub. What's wrong or unhelpful with a public health campaign which highlights these issues ?? You need to get real on a number of levels and stop making political (feminist) points out of what others are simply advocating as an expectation of sensible, responsible behaviour on the part of all our country's citizens - male and female

Author: glasgow mum, Female, glasgow
Date: 24/07/2010

Yes. This.

Author: sarah, Female, UK
Date: 25/07/2010

Yes, there are lots of things a woman can do to reduce her chances of being harmed and hurt and violated. Some are very reasonable. Being aware of one's surroundings is certainly a part of that.

If you trip in a dark alley over a curb, and break your foot, you should have been more careful, and you should take responsibility for the damage caused. You should have been more aware of your surroundings. That curb did not actively come out and make a choice to hurt you.

But in a rape, there is another person who actively violates the victim. That person makes the decision and the choice to do so. That person is a sentient being who made an active choice.

There are a lot of aspects of sensible and responsible behaviour that can prevent tragedies from occurring.

For instance, you could just never leave the house.

Yes, we should all learn how to protect ourselves, but that doesn't mean that we should always be blamed when something bad happens. In a court of law, no rape victim should ever feel that failure to act "sensibly and responsibly" according to someone else's standards excuses another human being from their violent choice to violate someone.

Author: Jessica, Female, USA
Date: 26/07/2010

No, no, no.

The comparison with burglary is not because womens bodies are seen as property - it's because it's a more common crime that people can understand as an analogy.

This whole campaign just reeks of being nothing more than about word play.

A woman is never "asking to be" raped. It's a turn of phrase. Nobody actually thinks the woman WANTS to be raped - it's simply to reflect that what the woman has done is perhaps unwise.

Here's a non property related one... if I wear a rangers strip and go into a celtic pub on match day... and get a right royal kicking for my trouble, am I partly to blame?

Was I "asking" for it?

If a woman is raped, the full force of the law should come down on her attacker *BUT* we need to ensure that women are encouraged to think about - and take responsibility for - their own safety.

Author: Ian, Male, Glasgow
Date: 26/07/2010

I find that there are far too many 'yes, but's when speaking of victims of this crime. There is no 'but' with 'do not do this to me'. No one regardless of anything else should ever have to deal with anyone disregarding their will in this. Family, friend or stranger, it doesn't matter. Nor what you wear. Yes, the advertising campaigns reinforce this attitude, and the question shouldn't be 'do you want this helpful service to stop?' but 'how can we change the campaign to stop blaming the victim?'!! Changing attitudes towards this will not happen if we can't accept that the assistance program reinforces the very issue we want stopped - that of women being viewed as objects instead of people. Would anyone support a campaign that taught LGBTQ people how to look less LGBTQ, because obviously they aren't trying hard enough to fit in??

Author: sara, Female, work, usa
Date: 27/07/2010

'if I wear a rangers strip and go into a celtic pub on match day... and get a right royal kicking for my trouble, am I partly to blame?' I find this analogy quite disturbing, when compared to wearing a short skirt in public, and ending up being raped. In the former, you are evoking an age-old conflict between two warring sides, in which someone from one side could be seen to deliberately provoke the other. In the latter case, that of men and women as the groups, do you see women's choice of clothing as deliberate attempts to provoke? To follow it further, the rape would be the 'right royal kicking'... Your comment portrays rape as a weapon in some kind of gender war. Women do not dress to provioke men into violence, and nor can men use women's dress as a justification for violence. Your potrayal of gender relations saddens me...

Author: Cath, Female, Glasgow
Date: 31/07/2010

I honestly think some people read posts with the intention of being offended by them, reading extra statements that weren't even made. Any analogy with rape is going to be disrespectful and insulting if u take it to equate in every way, just as just about every analogy would be if you did the same. This seems to escalate or just heat up an exchange which doesn't need to be heated up any more than it already is. Talk about safety and talk about blame are unrelated, please please please stop assuming that when one talks about being safe, they are putting blame on the victim or shirking from the attacker, they simply aren't and I hope you know it. Its a valid point and should be respected and not misread as some slander on women or some way of sheltering male pig-like views. However in the context of what this site is trying to achieve... it probably isnt the classiest thing in the world to do for a guy to bring up this point. I think its valid but it has no place on this site - it just causes these extra heated exchanges which seems to make the problem worse for everyone concerned.

Author: A, Male, A
Date: 16/08/2010

I agree that rape should not be compared to theft, however as a victim of rape experiencing the criminal justice system, or the criminal system as I prefer to call it, I often thought I would rather have had the crime listed as theft. (Theft of my body) Regrettably, if this were the case, the offender would have received more time in jail than on the conviction of the rape. My rapist received 2 years less a day on house arrest, then less than 30 days later, another individual in our city was convicted of stealing loose change from the Salvation Army donation box. He received 2 years less a day in jail. My rapist received a lighter sentence for raping me, a teenaged girl.

Author: Jacky, Female, Canada
Date: 28/07/2011

there is only one common denominator in a rape. thats the presence of a rapist.

no rape victim is ever to blame for the rape.

where i part company from the feminists is where it's called 'victim blaming' to take sensible precautions to safegard people. in an ideal world we would be able to leave our doors open and people wouldnt take our stuff, but we dont, and we do lock our doors.
* not comparing women to property before someone rants about that, just comparing one crime with another*

saying men shouldnt rape is like saying any criminal shouldnt do their crime, they probobly wont listen, only with saying men shouldnt rape your suggesting that all men are by default guilty because they share a gender with rapists, most decent men will feel defensive at that point.

Author: smig, Male, nijmegen
Date: 30/01/2015

If rapists were raping the way burglars were burgling, there would be masked men turning up on every doorstep, ringing the door bell, waiting until someone answered the door and then raping any attractive women they found inside. After all, if you were a burglar and you knew that ringing the door bell would likely cause any inanimate objects worth stealing to magically grow arms and legs and open the door, you'd be more likely to steal, wouldn't you? Some women are more vulnerable in their houses, even with company, than they would be in a night club. So if rapists are mostly psychotic, unreachable lunatics, rape is mostly a crime of opportunity and lust, and personal responsibility means NEVER being vulnerable, why are these psychotic, opportunistic rapists not taking the bait? I'll tell you why, because it's a misconception that the majority of rapists are fundamentally bad people who aren't going to listen to anything you say no matter what. It's a misconception that vulnerability is hugely influential in determining whether or not you'll be raped. Yes, it's necessary to be vulnerable to be a raped. But it's also necessary to have skin for your skin to be burned, and that's still not a huge risk factor in whether or not you'll actually be burned. But you know what is a huge risk factor? You know what is very influential in determining whether or not you'll be a victim of rape? A lack of empathy. Not being able to vicariously experience another's pain. Not being able to see someone as a person rather than as an object. Not being able to see someone as worthy of dignity and protection. Bringing young men up telling them that women deserve it, that women ask for it, that women want it, inhibits empathy. Bringing young men up telling them that women are stupid when they make certain decisions, that women who behave or dress in certain ways are always manipulating men (and that men should resent it) or that women who behave or dress in certain ways are always attention-seeking (and that this is - for some asinine reason - thoroughly contemptible), inhibits empathy. One day I was standing in a field a few yards from my house when four or five young men came into the field. One of them called me a whore. Someone, maybe the same person, asked me "Have you ever been raped?" Then two of them broke off from the rest of the group and started walking towards me. Understandably, I was alarmed. I started walking away from them fast, and they backed off a bit. Then I fled back to the relative safety of my house. I'm one of the lucky ones, I live in England, and English culture isn't that misogynistic. But if this had happened to me somewhere like India, the results could easily have been a lot different, because culture matters.

Author: Eils (pronounced "A-lish"), Female, Birmingham, England
Date: 30/01/2015

Have your say

“Rape seems to be the only crime where it's seen as ok to put the victim on trial.”

Natasha, Female from Glasgow

“Short skirts don't cause rape. Rapists cause rape”

Joss, Female from Connecticut

“About time something like this was shown on TV. Hopefully it will make everyone realise there cannot be any excuse for rape - EVER.”

Helzo, Female from Renfrewshire