It’s not that this ‘health and safety’ advice from Wellington’s Massey University isn’t sensible, it’s just that it is absolutely insane that we live in a world where the solution to rape is female university students being advised to carry a whistle and wear running shoes.
University spokesman James Gardiner said … “If students don’t wish to carry whistles or wear running shoes, that’s up to them, but that’s just the advice from our health and safety people.”
The full list of advice, according to the newspaper article:
Walk with others if you can
Keep to well-lit areas
Be aware of your surroundings (headphones playing music can distract you)
Walk confidently, be observant
Report suspicious behaviour to campus security.
Report crimes, including threats, to police
Tell someone where you are working, what time you will be home
Carry a whistle and a torch
Have your car keys or house keys ready in your hand
If someone is following you, go to a place where there are people
Wear comfortable shoes, eg: running shoes
Does this sound like a world we want to live in?
Again, no one’s saying it isn’t a ‘safe’ way to live, but might it not be better to address some deeper issues, like – just off the top of my head – men’s violence in our culture, poverty and crime, misogyny, rape culture, parenting skills and raising kids who know how to handle their anger and emotions… Or maybe we should all just get whistles and running shoes.
And if you think that carrying a whistle, or following all the rest of the ‘health and safety’ advice, will stop you being raped, remember this profound post from bluemilk:
Don’t go out and get drunk, it could lead to you getting raped. Also, don’t have sex with someone because it could get you raped by someone they know. Don’t be young, that could definitely get you raped. While we’re at it, especially don’t be a child, that could really get you raped. Don’t be older either, that can get you raped. Don’t be living in a nursing home; women get raped there. In fact, what are you even doing in an establishment like that, are you asking for it?
[Read more at bluemilk – actually, read everything she’s written there, ok?]
I know that the university is just trying to do the best it can, and it can’t change rape culture in Wellington overnight, so perhaps it’s just best to talk about whistles and running shoes.
I think what I’d appreciate is whenever anyone – especially the police – give out rape safety advice aimed at potential victims, that they include an explicit acknowledgement that the causes of rape are nothing to do with whistles or shoes. That would go some way to changing the way people think about rape and violence and victim-blaming.
What do you think?
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