Thursday, October 18, 2007

What cowed men aren't allowed to say

and sensible women across Nashville know:

She should not have been walking through the park alone and late at night.

No, that doesn't mean she deserves what happened but she is not without responsibility in this. She made some bad choices that resulted in severe consequences.

No, that doesn't mean the criminal should be allowed to do what he did. He should be homeless no more and incarcerated for quite some time.

However, why should we be expected to hand over more of our finite resources to pay for increased patrols to enable anyone to ignore basic safety rules? Everyone has a responsibility to be their own first line of defense. Don't walk alone. Don't walk in isolated areas late at night. Be sure you're mentally alert and aware of your surroundings. Carry a cell phone, fully charged and paid up. Don't let a stranger get close. Even my youngest knows all those rules. I'll bet she knew them to. Why she didn't follow them only she knows. What a horrible lesson to have to live through. I wouldn't wish this attack on anyone and I hope her physical, mental and spiritual recovery is well under way.

In the meantime, we've got to accept personal responsibility for the biggest portion of our own safety and not demand that other people pay for untold numbers of police and equipment that cannot be everywhere all the time anyway. We can only do so much. Beyond that the truth is, as cartographers used to write: "there be monsters."

According to the City Paper the day after the attack:
The victim, whose identity is being protected, was walking home from a downtown club when the suspect asked her for a cigarette on 5th Avenue North, police said.

The woman then proceeded to walk into the amphitheatre area of Bicentennial Mall when the suspect apparently approached her from behind, threw her to the ground, held a knife to her throat and....


brittney said...

Your first paragraph seems to suggest that you believe this young woman is at least partially responsible for her own rape. Is that what you are suggesting?

I'm with you on the "responsible for your own safety" part whole-heartedly, but the part about being responsible (even in part) for the violence that happened to her I have a hard time with.

Kay Brooks said...

Can you accept as true that someone can be partially responsible for their injuries?

If I'm harmed in an auto accident and the damage could have been mitigated by wearing a safety belt but I failed to utilize it, am I partly responsible for my injuries?

If I leave cash out on the table in full view of passers by instead of putting it in the drawer, am I partly responsible for the theft?

brittney said...

You see, a car accident and a willful act of violence are very, very different things, and so equating rape to auto accident injuries is fruitless. As for the theft, no I do not believe a person who leaves cash in plain sight is responsible for the theft that took place. They were careless or perhaps ignorant in doing so, but "responsible" for stealing it or it being stolen? No, I don't think so.

Now, I'll ask you again, since you responded to my inquiry with nothing but questions: Are you suggesting that this woman is responsible for her own rape, even in part?

Kay Brooks said...

Both parties placed themselves in dangerous situations: a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed without using the precautions society considers basic and the other alone, in the dark, late at night without regard to using the precautions society considers basic.

So you'll go so far as to say she was careless or ignorant but in no way responsible?

At what point do we admit that they should have acted differently and society has done what is reasonable to do? How much money, how many policemen, cameras, emergency boxes are enough to satisfy people who are unable to look at a victim and say "What were you thinking? Didn't you know that would be dangerous? Don't do that!"

GoldnI said...

My problem with this line of argument is, where does it stop? If you say that she's partially responsible for being raped because she was walking alone at night, well maybe she ought to have done more to protect herself. But women get abducted and raped in broad daylight all the time. Remember that case over the summer where a teenage girl was abducted from a crowded Target parking lot? Are those women responsible, just for going about their everyday activities, for not having some sort of defense mechanism?

Maybe then, the solution to not getting raped is for us to simply stay at home all the time. Oh but then, you can get raped by your husband, and in Tennessee that may not even be considered a crime!

Where does it stop? At what point can you say that someone is definitely NOT responsible for their own rape?

Kay Brooks said...

It's enough for today to get some women to say things like:

"well maybe she ought to have done more to protect herself."

I don't recall the Target incident but certainly it's entirely possible to do everything right and still be attacked.

And you bring up a good point. To those who would insist on more cameras, police and lights---if it happens in day in a crowded parking lot, cameras and lights aren't always the answer. So, again, we're back to doing as much as possible to ensure our own safety. First rule: don't put yourself in dangerous situations.

MS said...


The horribly wrong, preposterous, dangerous premise of your rant is that if women "protected" themselves, rape wouldn't happen. Since you flippantly liken this to driving, I'm fully aware that installing a car alarm does not decrease auto theft, it merely lowers the chance that my car is stolen. All efforts should target the criminals and public safety. Period.

Why should we "hand over" our resources to pay for the FIRST obligation of government? Perhaps because it is the only way we can enjoy the other things we pay for. Worse, you seem to presume to know what she did and did not do based only on the fact that she was a victim. And walking.

If your goal is to blame this victim, tell her she is responsible, that is beyond tasteless. If your goal is the reduction of violent crime against women, you are heading in exactly the wrong direction.

Kay Brooks said...

Nothing flippant about this serious subject.

My goal isn't to blame the victim. It's to point out that our finite resources cannot be everywhere, all the time and that each of us has the responsibility to do what we can to ensure we minimize our risk.

How much of our resources should we be required to hand over? And couldn't the amount of those resources be minimized if we all used some common sense? Resources that could then be freed up for other safety issues.

The only presumption is that the City Paper and Tennessean articles were accurate. If they were, there were several missteps and I hope they're not ever repeated by any other woman or man.

MS said...


If you wished to hold a rally in a public space to spew these hateful words, I imagine it would take quite the police presence to keep you safe. I have no problem with my tax dollars paying for those police, because your right to speak your mind, however deranged, is something I cherish.

The right to go to a club, have fun, and return in safety is a right I imagine every woman might cherish.

My outrage here isn't because someone has a crazy idea (we encounter lots of those) but because your idea here is so incredibly dangerous. What possibly motivated you to write this? Rape is not the result of an attractive woman passing by some "cowed" man who gets a crazy little idea. Wow.

Kay Brooks said...

It's hateful to remind women of the obvious--being alone in the park at night is dangerous and ill-advised? It's hateful to say Nashville cannot afford, and it's impossible to have, a police presence everywhere?

You're correct to say that we have a right to come and go in safety. It's just not a reality everywhere.

JJ Ross said...

All this "feminist" focus on the sacred right of an individual young person to walk freely into even the most obviously ill-advised situations -- while commanding the unlimited and exceedingly expensive protection of the public without question, much less critical commentary -- rings false, coming from anyone who won't apply that same zealous civil rights defense to homeschooling, truancy, vouchers, curfews, socialization and un-PC talk radio.

Kay Brooks said...

THANK you, JJ.