By Tim Peacock
Last Tuesday night, Zerlina Maxwell sat in on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show and spoke to him about rape, rape prevention, and the faulty logic of arming women to prevent rape. Those of you who have read this blog for a while know I agree 100% with Maxwell, and said so in this entry where I discussed many of the same issues she brought up on Hannity’s show. In a nutshell, Hannity attempted (like many conservative men) to frame the rape prevention argument around women – mainly, placing the onus on them (rather than the men who commit rape). Similar to arguments like “women shouldn’t dress provocatively” and “women shouldn’t drink at parties and make themselves vulnerable,” Hannity propagated the myth that carrying a gun will somehow stop a rape from happening.
On the Tuesday night show, Maxwell tackled all of this and more – and did so eloquently. As she said in an article
describing the interview, “Giving every woman a gun is not rape prevention. If a woman chooses to go out and buy a legal gun for self-defense, that’s fine. But that shouldn’t be confused with actual prevention, which is really about stopping rapes before they happen and focusing on the sole party responsible: the rapist.” After the interview ended, all should have been well and good – they had a civil discussion and Hannity moved on to the next segment.
Only, things weren’t good. Things were just the opposite.
Here are just a few of those tweets:
Maxwell – a rape survivor herself – knows better than most people what it means to have the need to defend oneself from a rapist. And despite that fact – or perhaps because of it – she isn’t just against telling women to carry guns to prevent rape, she’s against telling women to do anything when it comes to being attacked by men.
“I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there,” Maxwell said to Hannity. Studies back Maxwell’s contention. While we already discussed why arming women against rape is prone to fail (as most women know their rapist and would be put in a position of shooting an acquaintance), the studies behind rape education haven’t been too heavily covered here. Until now.
Two years ago, Canada launched an anti-rape campaign (“Don’t Be That Guy
“) to raise awareness about sexual assault. After the campaign’s launch, rape decreased a full ten percent
there. Another study conducted by National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
concluded that of the few programs focusing on men currently:
“Some programs have demonstrated success in changing men’s beliefs and attitudes regarding rape. [SNIP] Some programs have also reduced men’s self-reported likelihood to rape. This is an important variable to study because it ‘is associated with rape supportive attitudes, sexual arousal in response to rape depictions, aggression toward female confederates in a laboratory situation, and a history of self-reported sexually aggressive behavior.’ [SNIP] There is evidence to suggest that some prevention programs might reduce men’s actual sexual aggression.”
The evidence is clear: don’t tell women to defend themselves from rapists (they already know they should be doing it). Teach men from a young age that sexual assault is wrong. Whether due to a lack of appropriate and targeted sex education, the instilling of values supporting the belief that women are lesser beings, or even just poor adult influences, men that rape learn sexual assault as an acceptable behavior at some point in their life. All men aren’t rapists, but the ones who are learned that behavior (it’s not genetic). Additionally, the power dynamic – considered more motivating than the sexual gratification the physical rape actually provides – is also a learned behavior.
And speaking of power…I wonder how tall those Twitter and Facebook trolls felt as they threatened a rape victim? I wonder how small they felt when the wrath of the internet descended upon them in droves immediately thereafter. It just goes to show: in the age of social media, threats against women won’t be tolerated. If we could just translate that public shaming and impetus to refrain from sexual assault to the real world, we’d be set.
Here’s the Hannity interview that began it all: