I'm sick as a fucking dog and shouldn't be writing this. But I am SICK of the "don't be the victim" pieces, especially when such pieces are published by the very authorities that are tasked with helping people when they become victims. No one fucking chooses to be a victim of crime.
Nonetheless, UW-Madison decided it was a good idea to post a piece about how to shed the "victim persona." After a few complaints, they changed the title, but URL remains the same. So what tips do they offer to shed this so-called persona?*
1. "Don't travel alone."
No fucking shit. It's engrained into our fragile lady systems. Do we break this "rule" sometimes? Yes. Why? Because life is fucking messy, and sometimes you have a class at night because that's when some undergraduate classes occur as well as most graduate classes. There wasn't always a buddy around to make me look less like a "victim." Should I have stayed overnight on campus just because it was 9PM and dark? No. I'm pretty sure that was and still is against the rules, and honestly, it doesn't sound safe either. Plus, why the fuck can't we live in a world where I can walk to my car all by my grown-ass self without fear? I realize this isn't reality which just brings me back to the my original point of: we use the buddy system whenever possible! Hell, I drove my friend to her car just down the parking lot because it was not only cold as fuck but also very dark.
2. "Travel on well-lit paths."
Again, this has been beaten into our tiny female brains since birth. If we've left the path, we probably had to leave the path. And if we left the path alone, we sadly didn't have a buddy to leave the path with us.
Everyone does this. It's called knowing where the fuck you're going.
4. "Be a hard-target."
Apparently this means that we should remember everything that happened during every moment we were out and about town. We should also swivel our heads to look around at our surroundings. Newsflash: we do this. I do it in broad fucking daylight. Why? Because you keep insisting that I protect myself from would-be attackers rather than focusing your energy on teaching people to not fucking attack people, and I am therefore worried that I might actually be attacked.
5. "Drink responsibily."
I am not a fucking target because I had a drink or two (or however many I choose to ingest). No one is a target, no one is taking on the "victim persona" by drinking. You should drink responsibly, BUT a person who assaults someone, even if the person he or she assaults has been drinking, is a criminal and an asshole.
I'm all about being pro-active as I've been in some fucked up situations (I've been followed, sexually assaulted, spit-on, cat-called too many times to count, groped way too often, called a bitch on numerous occasions, had a drunk guy ask for my underwear, hated so much that I was told that I'm offended by acrobats all because I didn't use the term "acrobat" to show a group how to use the library catalog... should I go on? I could.). HOWEVER, if I for some reason forget (or simply am unable to) to follow one of these tips or the various other nuggets of knowledge I've learned over the years, it does not mean I'm acting like a potential victim.
We've moved from victim blaming to you're-acting-like-a-potential-victim-blaming. What's next? Cowering in fear, unable to live our lives because the next person to enter our place of work or school might be a criminal ready to attack? I feel like an alarmist even typing that, but with the shift in blame, I don't know where else it can go other than keeping us ladies away from public spaces so we know we won't become victims. Except! That's not even true because people can break into houses! Maybe we just shouldn't exist. Your life would be some much easier.
*I realize the original piece does not mention either gender. However, when was the last time you heard someone tell a guy shit like this? These words of "advice" are almost always directed at women.