For today’s rant, I’d like to zoom in on how some university students have been trained by their gender studies professors to view their world, and how the media is terrified to question them.
As a result of the six sexual assaults against female students at UBC this past summer (crimes that police say were probably committed by one violent individual), officials increased campus patrols and asked students—especially female students—to be extra careful when walking at night. According to CKNW news reporters, some students said they were “offended” by this request because it “implies that [female students] are asking for trouble.”
Oh my: where have all the good arguments gone? Asking students to be careful, when someone is, literally, out to get them, is not in any way blaming the victims; instead, it is simply trying to reduce students’ risks of further attacks. Sadly, there will probably always be violent human predators in our society: they seem to be a fact of nature (and/or nurture), and like other such powerful forces, the act of preparing for them, so as to mitigate their reach, is a reasonable thing to do. Asking students to participate in their own safety is not insulting them; it is showing care and respect for them, as it suggests that they can be proactive in their own safety.
I am aware of the concern with blaming victims, and I think it is legitimate to check law enforcement for language that seems to suggest the victims are culpable for crimes committed against them. However, what is the basis for criticism here? If these critics were to script the perfect phrases for the police in cases where there is a dangerous offender in their neighbourhood, what would they suggest? And if such critics were aware of precautions that, in their experience, seem to reduce one’s chance of becoming a victim, would they withhold the information just to avoid suggesting that one could reduce one’s risk? (To that end, would they consider the suggestion of taking a self-defence class also to be offensive?)
I am baffled by the lack of critical thinking exhibited by these complaining university students from my alma matter. What exactly are they arguing? Should one never adjust one’s behaviour for the sake of safety? Are these auto-offended students really advocating that their classmates go solo wherever they normally would at night, and not worry about a possible assault, because after all, they’re not doing anything wrong? (By that same argument, one shouldn’t practice defensive driving either.) This is a dangerous suggestion that could put easily-persuaded students at increased risk, which makes me wonder why the journalists who reported the students’ radical argument (that safety suggestions are offensive) didn’t seem to challenge them.
Why didn’t the reporters ask the allegedly offended students what the alternative was to the police’s request for students to be vigilant (and avoid being alone as much as possible) when walking at night until the rapist was caught? I realize reporters are loathe to criticize female university students who are claiming to be feminists, but when those students are making potentially dangerous arguments, is it not the duty of journalists to challenge them?
One such feminist student was, in fact, given a forum on CKNW to explain why the safety request was offensive: instead of telling women “not to get raped,” she explained, “we should tell men not to rape women.”
I’ll take on the misandrist element of this remark in my next post Attacking Men, but for now, I would like to clarify something: law enforcement agencies that advocate being careful in dangerous situations are not necessarily suggesting that criminals have a right to commit violent crimes in poorly lit areas. Instead, it’s conceivable that the police want to catch the bad guys, but are aware that they cannot be omnipresent, and so, until they have cleared the streets of all violent offenders, they are suggesting, that—for our own safety—we the citizens avoid dangerous situations when feasible. I think the police probably thought it was implied—by their increased patrols apparently aimed at catching the rapist—that they are, in fact, opposed to rape. Indeed, I think all but a tiny fraction of the male population consider rape to be a moral outrage. So telling men not to rape when there’s a serial rapist in our neighbourhood would be like reminding citizens not to murder when there’s a serial murderer out there.
Nevertheless, these bizarre arguments were published without any criticism by the Vancouver media. This is not good news for the pursuit of gender equality: when the worst arguments are allowed to spread without contradiction as representatives of feminism, genuine equality-persuing feminism is unlikely to see much time in the spotlight.