My Rape Schedule

May 8, 2010 § 11 Comments

Last night I walked into the subway station and pulled out my wallet just as a train was pulling in. I scrambled to swipe my MetroCard and ran into the train as the doors were closing. Settling on a seat and tucking away my wallet, I slowly noticed that the car was empty except for me and a 35-ish-year-old man a few seat blocks over.

My first thought: I should switch cars at the next station.

My next thought: But he doesn’t look dangerous. (What makes someone look dangerous?)

And then: Even if he doesn’t look dangerous, I still shouldn’t be here alone. What a terrible idea. What if something happens?

And then, as we sat in peaceful silence from station to station, I came to the best realization of all: We could sit here, alone, for days and days, and he would not rape me if he is not a rapist.

Image from Shakesville.

What a fucking revolutionary idea!

See, women are told from birth that men can’t help themselves. They just can’t resist. Girls and women are supposed to control their appetites, their body odors, their excretions, their facial expressions, their words, their sexual cravings. Men and boys? Can do whatever the fuck they want. Guys who eat as much as they like, burp, sweat, use impolite phrasing, and have sex when and how they please are neither reprimanded nor socially punished; often, in fact, they are glorified. And men who rape? Are usually just “boys being boys.”

Here’s the thing: nothing makes rape happen except a rapist. Not being drunk, not wearing “slutty” clothes, not walking home alone, not leaving your drink momentarily out of sight, not being passed out, not agreeing to some sexual acts but not others, not retracting agreement in the moment. Men are capable of resisting these opportunities to rape, because rape is not about sex, it’s not about pleasure — it is about control.

The threat of violence is a universal experience for women and queer people. It binds us together. And the organization of our lives according to a rape schedule is not easy; it takes mental effort. And it starts early — I remember being concerned about sexual assault as early as 11 years old, and planning my route to the subway accordingly. Can you imagine what we might use that brainspace for? There are so many other beautiful, fascinating and lovely thoughts that might fill the space that we are forced to reserve for violence prevention. Men do not have to negotiate the constant threat of violence in the same way as women; their minds are unburdened by how to prevent attacks — and prove that such attacks were not their own fault.

It is not too much to ask men not to rape; indeed, it is insulting to insist that they are incapable of treating people with dignity and respect.

I refuse to accept a life planned around the threat of violence. I refuse to accept that I should tailor my comings and goings to a rape schedule. And I refuse to accept that rape is anything but a violent, cold-hearted, and inescapably deliberate act.

I’m keeping my seat.

§ 11 Responses to My Rape Schedule

  • Nell Gwynne says:

    I love this post. During the presentation at the beginning of the year by Campus Security at my school (The Savannah College of Art and Design), they talked about rape/sexual assault as if it was something that happened to women walking in short skirts late at night where strangers were hiding in bushes ready to ambush them.

    When institutions, like colleges, expect us to adhere to a “rape schedule,” they seem to do so in order to take accountability off of themselves. Obviously there can’t be rapists at our school! It’s the women’s fault for wearing/saying/doing XYZ!

  • Aydan says:

    Thanks for this post (I came here via Feministe). It’s always good to be reminded of this– even when I know something in my head, it’s good to keep internalizing it.

  • annahell says:

    Brava and well-done! I’ve already seen this a few times on tumblr (which is how I got here).

    In retrospect, it seems like such and easy shift to make (oh right, we have rape and abuse and violence because there are rapists and abusers violent people), but it’s truly a paradigm shift.

    But, how does this affect, for lack of a better term, rape prevention education? Do educators deliver this message then educate people on how to identify a rapist or abuser? In other words, besides keeping our seat, what else can we do?

    • mirandanyc says:

      In my opinion, the most important element of rape prevention education is teaching about enthusiastic consent, particularly to men (who are the vast majority of rapists). In other words, we need to teach people not to rape. We also need to recognize the broader forces in our culture which tolerate and even encourage assault — this is called rape culture.

  • [...] up on this blog, on daring to talk and write about sexual violence, on feminist organizing, on having the audacity to travel alone whenever and wherever I please. I would have given up on men, and I would have given up on my own [...]

  • [...] against women; it’s meant to keep women quiet, keep us inside, keep us from coming and going as we please. It can ruin your afternoon, your emotional safety, your confidence. It needs to be [...]

  • [...] Miranda at Women’s Glib summed up the idea of a “rape schedule” perfectly: And then, as we sat in peaceful silence from station to station, I came to the best realization of all: We could sit here alone for days and days, and he would not rape me if he was not a rapist. [...]

  • [...] dark out or fish the keys out of their purses well before they reach the door. (This is called a rape schedule.) They [...]

  • [...] My Rape Schedule « Women’s Glib The threat of violence is a universal experience for women and queer people. It binds us together. And the organization of our lives according to a rape schedule is not easy; it takes mental effort. And it starts early — I remember being concerned about sexual assault as early as 11 years old, and planning my route to the subway accordingly. Can you imagine what we might use that brainspace for? There are so many other beautiful, fascinating and lovely thoughts that might fill the space that we are forced to reserve for violence prevention. (tags: sexual.violence) [...]

  • [...] while many of us are aware of this, women are still forced to live their lives on a ‘rape schedule‘: ‘I have to leave the party early because it’s not safe to take the train late [...]

  • [...] and Be the Change. *** The full article from which I pulled the quotations in bold may be found at: http://womensglib.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/my-rape-schedule/ Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Published: October 13, 2011 Filed Under: Rants and [...]

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