jessica valenti

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I’m appreciative that young men [like the ones who created the “anti-rape” nail polish] want to curb sexual assault, but anything that puts the onus on women to “discreetly” keep from being raped misses the point. We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it.

If it were truly that simple, previous iterations of this same concept would have worked. Remember “anti-rape underwear”? Or the truly terrifying “Rapex” – a female condom that would insert tiny hooks into an assailant’s penis? You can’t really expect women to wear modern chastity belts or a real-life vagina dentata in order to be safe. That’s not trying to stop rape - it’s essentially arguing that some people getting raped is inevitable.

Even if a woman were to wear special nail polish or anti-rape underwear, or if she listens to common – but misplaced – advice about not getting drunk and always walking home in a group, all she’s supposedly ensuring is that she won’t be attacked. (And even then it’s not real security, because women who do all the “right” things get raped too) What about the girl at the same party who decided to have a few drinks that night? “So long as it isn’t me” isn’t an effective strategy to end rape.

My latest at the Guardian US, Why is it easier to invent anti-rape nail polish than find a way to stop rapists? 

If, during a moment when rape victims are speaking out in force to detail the awful treatment they endure at the hands of school administrators, police and the criminal justice system, you’re using your time, energy and published words to argue that America’s rape problem is overblown … perhaps a little Twitter heat should be the last thing you’re worried about. Being on the wrong side of history should be the first.

And if, after hearing story after story of women abused by attackers and then the system meant to protect them, you spend your time opining that poor men have to go through the trouble of getting an explicit “yes” from their partners before engaging in sexual acts, maybe you need to spend less time writing and more time on a therapist’s couch. After all, who besides a rapist thinks that getting an enthusiastic “yes” to sex is an unreasonable standard?

From my latest at the Guardian, There is no internet ‘outrage machine’ – just these outrageous rape apologists

[P]atriarchy pushes us to put aside our good judgment—particularly when that good judgement is urging us to believe bad things about talented, white men.

I believe, as Roxane Gay does, that people are skeptical of abuse victims because “the truth and pervasiveness of sexual violence around the world is overwhelming. Why would anyone want to face such truth?” I also believe that deep down people know once we start to believe victims en masse—once we take their pain and experience seriously—that everything will have to change. Recognizing the truth about sexual assault and abuse will mean giving up too many sports and movies and songs and artists. It will mean rethinking institutions and families and power dynamics and the way we interact with each other every day. It will be a lot.

And we are lazy.

It’s easier to ignore what we know to be true, and focus on what we wish was. But the more we hold on to the things that make us comfortable and unthinking, the more people will be hurt—and the more growing room we’ll create for monsters.

Choosing Comfort Over Truth: What It Means to Defend Woody Allen, my latest at The Nation

Here’s the thing - when you argue that it’s impossible to teach men not to rape, you are saying that rape is natural for men. That this is just something men do. Well I’m sorry, but I think more highly of men than that. (And if you are a man who is making this argument, you’ll forgive me if I don’t ever want to be in a room alone with you.)

And when you insist that the only way to prevent rape is for women change their behavior - whether it’s recommending that they carry a weapon or not wear certain kinds of clothing - you are not only giving out false information, you are arguing that misogyny is a given. That the world will continue to be a dangerous and unfair place for women and we should just get used to the fact. It’s a pessimistic and frankly, lazy, view on life. Because when you argue that this is “just the way things are,” what you are really saying is - I don’t care enough to do anything about it.

Rape Is Not Inevitable: On Zerlina Maxwell, Men and Hope, my latest at The Nation