Update 4:00 PM: 03/13/16: Please click HERE to see the second part update.
This is the first follow-up of two regarding the run of the Midland Reporter-Telegram’s March 6, 2016 Sunday paper headline “Officials: Increase in rape isn’t cause for alarm”.
Please read my response to that article “When Rape is No Cause for Alarm”.
Last night, I was informed by a friend and her mother who are closely following this case that the MRT did an additional follow-up with Kay Therwanger or, rather, Ms. Therwanger wrote a short explanation of her quote from the original article. It was, sadly, a short and unacceptable follow-up, full of conflicting information when you put it side-by-side with the original article. Not to mention, as far as I can tell, MRT chose not to put it online, but kept it in print only, which I find cowardly on MRT’s part. Here’s a photo my friend was kind enough to send to me. I hope it’s somewhat read-able.
Right. Let’s start with comparing the two. Kay says, in the article above,
“The article in the Reporter-Telegram’s Sunday edition concerning the 27 percent rise in forcible rape was intended to convey to the public that rape is usually committed by someone the victim knows. The article was never meant to minimize the victimization of rape regardless if the perpetrator was an acquaintance or a stranger.”
OK. It was not meant to minimize. Really? This is absolutely not how this came across, and, coming from a woman who deals with victims every day, (or used to?) I don’t see how it is possible that they don’t understand the way in which this comes across. Let’s look, below, at a quote from the original article.
“If there was a stranger out there (committing these acts), that would cause horrible alarm,” said Therwhanger, who was a board member of the Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center for two decades. “That is not the case.”
Let’s play with this rhetoric a bit, shall we?
Hmmm. How about this: It is not the case that there’s a stranger out there committing these acts. No. It is most likely that these increases in rape are happening between two people who know each other. So this doesn’t call for any horrible alarm. Right? And we suggest (see below) that you join some sort of outreach program. We are wonderful at that. I mean, the police can’t protect you. So, what is there to do? You should man up, and protect yourself. (See Midland Police Department article about our self-defense classes). Oh, and by the way, the burden is on YOU, women, children, battered or otherwise emotionally abused wives, daughters and girlfriends, drunk or drugged girlfriends, young boys, etc. to bear this burden, alone. And when you do, inevitably, get raped, as ONE IN FOUR women will in their lifetime, usually before the age of 18, (One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. 12.3% of women were age 10 or younger at the time of their first rape/victimization, and 30% of women were between the ages of 11 and 17) please come see up at the Crisis Center. We can point you toward our AGGRESSIVE outreach program. Sounds pretty bad, eh?
Quote from original article, below:
“Forcible rape is not like some other crimes and infractions where law enforcement can be more proactive in its prevention. She said it is important to get the message out there that sexual assaults generally happen between people who know each other. She also said the Midland Rape Crisis center has been very aggressive with outreach programs.”
“The police department, according to the city of Midland, will continue to educate individuals on ways they can protect themselves from harm. A Rape Aggression Defense class provided by the Midland Police Department, according to the city, “continues to be a popular program and provides realistic self-defense techniques that women can use to protect themselves.” This comprehensive course covers awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training.”
“Yes, while it is fine to encourage women protect themselves (I was a self defense instructor for years) , too much of the emphasis is always put on the victim having to change their behavior. This leads to a blame the victim approach afterwards… “Oh, you were raped? why didn’t you defend yourself, not drink, get someone to walk you home, etc.” Instead of the media constantly addressing what potential victims need to do to stay safe, why are we spending zero time teaching potential rapist not to rape. This is all part of rape culture.
Another example was a few years ago… they made underwear that was impossible for men to get off of women without a pass-code/key. People were touting this as a way to keep young women safe. When I was asked about it, I addressed it this way: Why not spend our money teaching men not to be rapist instead? Do we really have to lock women into underwear to keep them safe? Plus, how would this have helped me when I was raped by being forced to give oral sex? I just think we really need to ask ourselves if we want to live in a world where we have thrown our hands up in the air and said in a sense, rape it a given so here is your rape underwear. How does this stop the violation of being groped? Molested? Should women wear full body armor next? When does it end? And if a women doesn’t wear her rape underwear, is it her fault she is raped? When can we not bear the responsibility of working to NOT being raped?
Rape culture puts all the emphasis on the potential victim to protect themselves. The fact is that rape and abuse of women is more nuanced than simply taking a defense class. (Most abusers are known to the women). It is looking deeply into all the way we as a society perpetuate these abuses, all the ways we keep women silent within their marriages and relationships. All the ways we teach women their only self worth is in pleasing a man. Those concepts can do much more than the (yes, important) band-aid situation of a self defense class. Most of my time as an instructor was spent undoing the dangerous programming women undergo in our society and much less on physical skills (which can be helpful) in order to keep women safe. Why not start with undoing the social programming instead of offering band-aids later?”