Back in the Sixties, there was a quote going around that always resonated with me:
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.
I just came up with a corollary to that theory:
If they can make you afraid of the wrong things, they don’t have to do anything about the real dangers.
That could apply to many things, but for today I’m going to focus on the fear-mongering directed at women.
There’s a bit going around Facebook these days that lists all the things women should do to protect themselves. This one reads:
it’s about to get dark earlier.. make sure you fill up your gas tank prior to nightfall.. keep an extra charger with you at all times.. sign up for AAA….. Check your tires and oil… No ATM runs in the evening. Park in well lit areas. Only unlock your doors if you are immediately getting out. Pay attention to your surroundings.. HEADS UP PHONES DOWN… Stay safe Queens.
This one is focused on people who drive, but something similar goes around social media regularly listing all the things women need to do to keep themselves safe when they’re out in public.
Those lists are always followed by multiple comments about how awful men are and how unfair it is that women have to do these things to stay safe when instead men should change.
I’ve got three problems with this list.
First, this is once again advice on how women should limit their lives to stay safe. As the commenters observe, we’re all getting really tired of this.
Secondly, that advice is really about protecting yourself from robbers and carjackers, so the useful parts (such as keep your car in good running condition) apply to everyone, not just women. In fact, men are more often the victims of this kind of street crime than women, perhaps because some men assume being male means you don’t have to pay attention.
But most importantly, when women are told how to keep themselves safe, the implication is that they need protection from sexual assault, rape, and murder. And that brings me to my most important objection: this advice, though often well-meaning, makes women think the real danger they face is from strangers.
And it’s not. Continue reading “Strangers Aren’t the Danger”…