Walking to the 24-hour library the other night, I did everything wrong. I walked alone across our massive campus. I don't carry mace or a taser. I didn't text my roommate when I got here. I took the stairs, so there's a point, right? Nah. I put myself in a deserted stairwell where I could have been trapped and raped without anyone knowing.
So what's more messed up? The fact that I knew all of the right things to do and ignored them every step of the way? The fact that going to the library to study has to be such a calculated event to ensure that a man doesn't take something from me that I can never get back? The fact that despite all of my missteps, I am sitting here writing while a woman who might have done everything right tonight still had her clothes ripped off by someone she couldn't stop? I hate that as I walk down the street on the campus of a school that I love, I have to keep a constant guard.
My fist is balled in my pocket, ready to pull back the second a man I don't recognize gets too close. I guess the angle that my knee would have to jab to get him off. I so nonchalantly think, as I walk, that when I get attacked, there's some small chance that I will be able to fight them off.
In the society I live in, my rape no longer feels like a terrifying but unlikely scenario that I should know what to do just in case of. It feels like an inevitable fact. I am going to be raped at college. One in three women are assaulted, and I know that I am no exception to the statistics. So if I do everything wrong and am fine, what's going to stop a rapist if I do everything right? It isn't fair and hardly feels like something I should worry about at this point, however since I was a little girl it has been engraved inside of me that I don't go anywhere without mommy or my sister.
When I get my license it wasn't "Hey kid, wear a seatbelt and drive slow." It was "Park under a streetlight and ask someone to walk you to your car. It's a good idea to make a fist around the poke of your key because it'll do more damage if you catch him with a punch. And for the love of God, Liv do not unlock your car until you are about to get in and don't hang out. Lock the doors and get the hell out".
So yes, women will play the victim card as long as women are the victims. Do we tell our sons on their way out, to park under the lights, or just not try to put their dicks into strangers? Rapists wouldn't be rapists if they didn't grow up in a society where that is an option. So I bring some mace, I walk with a friend, and I don't go out after dark unless it's absolutely necessary. But for how long are we going to have to arm ourselves against attackers that don't care if we follow the rules or not?