I heard the most bizarre discussion on BBC's World Have Your Say today. The question posed was this - Can rape ever be the victim's fault? I thought the answer would be a simple, obvious "no". However, I was shocked to find some other people's answers from around the world were "it depends". And not just a few people thought this. Those calling in were half in the absolutely never category and half in the "if she dresses a certain way, goes to a certain part of town or is alone with a man she she shouldn't be then it is her fault category. Really.
I realize I live in a privileged, protected bubble of the "educated" and middle class in the first world. I realize this affords me to dress and say what I want and be with whomever I want and say no to what I don't want to do. I know that if I say no I have the law on my side. I know in my culture that I have the right to call out anyone who would dare to touch me or do anything to me I said I didn't want them to. It doesn't matter, in my world, how I dress, what I do, how I walk, where I go or who I talk to. No, in my world, means no. So I was shocked at first to hear what others (including other women) had to say.
Those in the "it matters what you do" category put it on the woman to act appropriately in situations with a man. They seemed to think that if a woman doesn't, she's "asking for it". But shouldn't a woman have the freedom to be who she is without some creep taking it as his cue to jump on her, despite telling him no?
On the flip side, some of what others were saying made sense. It wasn't just that a woman is asking for it, but to be smart. Sure you should be able to do what ever, walk naked in the streets if you want and not get raped. In a perfect world. But just because you want to and you should be protected, doesn't mean you will. Some argued that it wasn't that a woman deserved it, but that she should be smart enough to realize that her actions could invite the kind of attention she may not want, that there are men out there who will take it as a green light no matter how many times she says "no". And if she doesn't properly protect herself from these men, it is her fault.
I still think no means no, no matter what. I do think we should strive for a world where a woman should be able to dress any way she pleases and go and do and say what she pleases and be able to say she does not want something, like sex, and for a man to understand that means no sex. What do you think? Does no mean no, or does it only mean no unless the girl is acting provacatively and then deserves what she gets? Are you shocked as I am at these answers?