Ladies: hold hands while crossing the street!

Find me a grown woman–hell, find me a freaking sixteen-year-old girl–who doesn’t have phrases like “Watch your drink!” and “Don’t go out alone!” and “Be careful driving at night!” etched into a permanent corner of her brain. Go ahead. Find her. I’ll wait.

Fact is, self-preservation tactics (alternate translation: things women can do that limit their full participation in the public sphere in the name of “safety”) are drilled into women practically from the time they’re toddlers. Which is why I take exception to events like this one: Fort Worth and Arlington police chiefs are going to give a special lecture to women this morning in anticipation of the Super Bowl.

The two law enforcement officials are teaming up with Safe City Commission to warn women to be careful about going off with strangers. With Super Bowl XLV coming to North Texas next weekend, plenty of visitors are expected to descend on the area for various parties and other functions and officials want women to take extra precautions.

I guess the upcoming speaker series will also cover holding hands while crossing the street and just saying no to drugs. Here’s the thing: this shit is not nearly good enough for me any more.

I am not satisfied with law enforcement telling me to be careful. I know to be careful. Every woman in the world knows to be careful. WE ARE BEING CAREFUL EVERY TIME WE LEAVE OUR HOMES BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE DONE EVER SINCE CHILDHOOD. And you know what? We are still being raped and killed.

I do think things like “watch your drink” and “safety in numbers” are important pieces of advice. I do not think they should be the only pieces of advice given out only to women when it comes to public safety. Putting the onus on women to protect themselves does not get at the source of the violent acts committed against them, and while I don’t think this “Safe City” thing is victim-blaming, I think the attitude it takes leads people who are inclined to do so right down that path, by the hand.

Here is my challenge to law enforcement: what are you doing while we are being careful? Are you giving press conferences detailing the many and various ways the cops are determined to prosecute rapists and abusers to the fullest extent of the law? Are you educating officers on taking rape charges–every rape charge, every time, no matter who makes it–seriously? Are you out there in schools telling students about consent and “Yes Means Yes!”? Where are the meetings for men asking them to hold their friends accountable for their actions? How about a “Safe City Commission” meeting targeted at guys, so that they can recognize warning signs in their own friends’ behavior?

We’re being careful. But what’s everyone else doing?

About andrea grimes

Andrea is a journalist living in Austin, TX. She has a master's degree in anthropology and did her thesis work on gender and stand-up comedy. Seriously. Also, she has a bunch of cats. Three of them. Is three a bunch? Discuss.
This entry was posted in Dallas, rape culture, sexual assault. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Ladies: hold hands while crossing the street!

  1. gravyrug says:

    Well said, and about time it’s being said.

  2. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Thank you for this. I am so tired of these lectures, like I don’t think about these things enough as it is.

  3. babydyke says:

    Followed a link of Shakesville. Thank you for posting this. I mean, seriously: there’s only so careful you can be, if someone is determined to rape they’ll find a way. It really doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do: the victim is never at fault.

  4. “Are you giving press conferences detailing the many and various ways the cops are determined to prosecute rapists and abusers to the fullest extent of the law? Are you educating officers on taking rape charges–every rape charge, every time, no matter who makes it–seriously? ”

    Thank you for stating this in so many words. I hope the conversation will move towards, “Men be careful, because if you intend to rape we will find you and we will punish you.”

    Men can stop rape.

  5. Sarah Robot says:

    Also from Shakesville, and I wholeheartedly agree. We *live* these warnings. Every day. All the time. We don’t really need more of them.

    I hope the conversation will move towards, “Men be careful, because if you intend to rape we will find you and we will punish you.”

    THIS.

  6. Chai Latte says:

    I think I love you a bit.😀

  7. Aunti Disestablishmentarian says:

    Yesyesyesyesyes.
    Sing it!

  8. Bladepsyde says:

    Here via Shakesville.
    I love this post and, subsequently, you so much that I would like to lend you my umbrella when it’s raining and I don’t have another one.
    Bravo.🙂

  9. lunargirl says:

    Excellent point and about damn time someone said it.
    🙂

  10. aquarianrabbit says:

    Also from Shakesville!

    Great post and thanks for writing it.

  11. Aeryn says:

    Another one from Shakesville. I just wanted to say, the pic used to illustrate this post is GENIUS. I think it’s the words “no choice” that make it so perfect.

  12. Jenny says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been saying this for a while now and everyone (okay, mostly men) always looks at me like I have 2 heads.

    I would add to your excellent post this question: While you’re telling women to be careful, are you also out there telling MEN not to rape, that no means no, and that if a woman cannot give consent, that is the same as no?

  13. Pingback: Man asks touchy question, doesn’t like answers « Crossing the Highway

  14. thebewilderness says:

    The purpose of these scoldings is so that when the victims of sexual assault show up at the police department to report a rape the cops can feel themselves to be fully justified when explaining that it was her own fault for failure to heed their advice. They call it crime prevention outreach. But only for certain crimes. When they do drug outreach they try to teach people the dangers of using drugs and the long term cost of a criminal arrest. Funny how that works.

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