When three rapes are reported in nine days at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, y’all know it’s time to bring out the big victim-blaming guns. First, the straight story from the Star-Telegram:
On Aug. 18, campus police received a report that a female student was sexually assaulted in a residence hall by someone she knew. Campus police received another report Aug. 22 of an attempted sexual assault, also by an acquaintance, that apparently occurred in a residence hall. On Aug. 26, Fort Worth police notified TCU police of a sexual assault several blocks south of the campus. The reported victim appeared to know the attacker in that case, too.
And that’s about as far as we get before it’s time to talk about how the ladies keep getting themselves raped with all that drinking they’re doing:
I am a concerned parent,” the mother of a TCU student wrote to the Star-Telegram. She asked not to be identified. “My concerns are that the school is out of control. There is too much on campus drinking and partying.”
Y’all know what there is too much of on campus at TCU? No, it’s not drinking and partying. It’s rape. There’s too much raping happening. Nowhere in news reports that I can find is it specified that any of these three rapes involved alcohol–and you know, what? Even if they did, raping a drunk person is still raping a drunk person, and alcohol doesn’t cause rape, RAPISTS CAUSE RAPE.
In fact, it’s very telling that all three of these rape cases involved individuals known to the victim, because we know, via RAINN, that 2/3 of all rapists are people known to their victims. What causes rape? Knowing a rapist. What doesn’t cause rape: drinking. Of course, don’t tell TCU that, because their tips for not getting raped include: don’t drink, ladies. These e-mails were sent out two years ago in the aftermath of another TCU rape, but they’re pretty standard for university e-mails on the subject. From the TCU Women’s Network blog, which reposted the e-mails:
· Do not take any drinks (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) from a stranger.
· Do not leave your drink unattended.
· Friends never leave a friend at a party or public establishment where they might be at risk.
· If you are not of legal age, DO NOT drink alcohol.
· Never accept a ride from someone you do not know.
· Do not drink and drive. Designate a driver or call a cab.
· Be responsible for your friends.
· If you are of legal age and choose to drink, do so in a way that does not put you or someone else at risk.
· Realize it is perfectly acceptable to refuse alcohol and to feel comfortable and confident if you choose not to drink.
Nothing in there about consent. Nothing in there about how rapists typically rape several people before anyone speaks up. Nothing in there about how most rapes are committed by individuals known to the victim. No e-mail alerting men on campus to be responsible for their friends. Just to women. About how they shouldn’t drink and should babysit each other.
I’ve written about the contradictory, illogical nature of victim-blaming on HayLadies before, and this bears repeating:
Those who victim-blame are saying two contradictory things: everyone is a rapist and everyone should know that everyone is a rapist except your friends, acquaintances and relatives who are not rapists, because how could anyone know or like a rapist? It’s all probably just a misunderstanding!
Take, for example, this comment posted by ‘Oak Cliff Townie” on the Star-T site: “There are quite a few Drunk on Campus photo websites around . People that toasted lack the ability to protect themselves .” Protect themselves from … their friends? Friends-of-friends? We don’t talk about mugging victims causing their own muggings because they didn’t fight hard enough, resist their mugger, or took the wrong street. Rape victims, again, are the only crime victims expected to prevent their own attacks.
And the tips we do give women and girls aren’t particularly helpful, here. These women were raped at home. In their own dorm rooms. Commenter Jacob Kehl says: “It’s unfortunate that it happens but it happens everywhere, we have emergency poles and Froggy 5-0 to take girls (and only girls) wherever they want to go for free. Of course walk in groups, these can be prevented.”
Yes, safe transportation is important and probably helps prevent stranger rape. But how does Froggy 5-0 protect women from the most common kind of rape: rape committed by a friend or acquaintance? It doesn’t. I’m highlighting all of this to emphasize the need for consent-oriented rape prevention conversations and programs that identify and educate people on rape culture and enthusiastic consent. (Yes Means Yes!)
Telling women to shut up, stop drinking and dress like nuns doesn’t stop rape. Women have been told that since time immemorial. And yet, rapists rape on. It’s time to change the conversation.