Violence prevention efforts gendered, misdirected

Camille Frink, Staff Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. 

Most women, at some point in their lives, have heard advice like “don’t walk alone at night,” “hold your car keys between your fingers” and “watch what you wear.” People often share tutorials for how to escape zip ties and self-defense tips for women on social media. While these efforts are well-intentioned, the focus on the victim rather than the perpetrator is harmful.

Though people of all genders experience assault, women are disproportionately more limited by the risk of violence, sexual or otherwise. Activities that men often do without fear of safety, like traveling alone or participating in behaviors like drinking are more dangerous for women.

According to the World Health Organization, one in three women experiences some form of sexual violence. The fault does not lie with women but with societal expectations of masculinity. Rape culture has become normalized, giving men the idea that rape is not such a bad thing, or that the consequences will not be that bad.

While informing women on ways to protect themselves, like self-defense skills or information on how to evade unsafe situations, can be helpful and empowering, it can also further exacerbate rape culture. The belief that women should take certain actions and refrain from others to avoid violence is a logical one. These thoughts, however, easily lead to some people’s view that if a woman falls victim to violence, she failed to protect herself and the violence is to some degree her fault.

This pressure on women to protect themselves is misdirected. Instead of expecting women, and those of other genders, to prevent violence against themselves, more resources and effort should be dedicated to preventing people from committing violent crimes.

This misdirection exacerbates rape culture. Instead of holding women responsible for the violence perpetrated against them, institutions like schools and churches should do a better job of holding perpetrators accountable.

Similarly, rather than educating women and girls on preventing violence, there should be a greater emphasis on educating men and boys to respect women’s safety. Women should be able to go about their daily lives without limitation by fear or violence. Until that is the case, rape culture has not ended.

Camille Frink is a student at Newcomb-Tulane College and can be reached at [email protected]