As anyone who has read The Morning After: Fear, Sex and Feminism by Katie Roiphe will know there is a general belief that talking about sexual violence, abuse, and other crimes can lead to a fear of violence and therefore is fear mongering. Roiphe argues that that by exaggerating the dangers faced by women, feminists have taken away the sexual freedom that were fought for so hard by so many. By implying that women are victims, they have made women feel weak and afraid. Fear of violence is, therefore, far greater than its actual incidence.
This may have some degree of reality within it. However, unfortunately this naivety can lead to the dismissal of the real threat by creating black/white thinking of either “the world is dangerous and scary, everyone is evil” or “the world is safe, everyone is nice and kind, and anyone who says it isn’t is lying”, this fails to realise that in reality the world is neither black nor white in fact it is generally grey. Naivety can also put people at risk, studies have shown that women who are aware of the potential hazards are not over trusting and are less likely to be assaulted. Not all people are violent, not all rape and not all are dangerous, but it is difficult (if not impossible) to tell those who are/do from others. I mean people don’t walk around with giant florescent lights above their heads naming their intensions.
I admit there may be a contradicting here, of wanting people to be free and independent but at the same time wanting people to be careful which may seem to infringe upon this independence. However, surely the resolution of this conflict involves speaking out about violence and campaigning for change to what society seems to regard as an acceptable level of violence. Until such a changes occur, however, we have no choice but to prepare our friends, children and others for what the world is, and regrettably this includes warning them of the dangers. A balance must be struck between empowering people to be independent, taking precautions’, in so far as possible, and campaigning for a change in the status quo. As much as I wish we could, we cannot alter the world to protect people from the truth, and I feel it would be irresponsible to go around telling people that everything is safe and to never be on their guard as it’s not needed… being on your guard and taking precautions’ is part of life, I mean you’d never cross the road without checking for cars would you? But first you need to know that roads and cars can be dangerous, same with people, people can be dangerous, people are vulnerable to harm, but there are things we can do to limit this vulnerability.
But how can we limit our vulnerability unless we know we are vulnerable to start with?