In a perfect world, a one-off stupid thing like that probably wouldn't be that big of a deal. In that world, people would laugh at the folly of some editors writing a sensational headline. Some people would gripe, the editors would change the headline and half-heartedly apologize (all of which actually happened) and life would go on (which it has). In that society, women wouldn't be solely responsible for whether or not they are raped. But of course, that society doesn't exist. And, like so many other issues in our society, it's systemic. It's not a one-off. It is yet another straw on a camel's back that frankly feels like it's pretty close to breaking.
Today I read an article about all the things women should do to prevent rape. There are several things on the list that I have done or thought of as reasonable. I have questioned how safe it is for me to run early in the morning or later at night by myself. I have bought mace from the local running store. I have also thought about downloading one of the GPS tracking devices so my husband knows where I am when I run or bike and if I don't come home by a certain time he can check on me. I have taken a self-defense class. I have taken a cab instead of the train when I've had to work late.
None of these things feels totally unreasonable (chastity underwear seems pretty unreasonable). Of course, I don't want to put myself in a situation where I could be harmed. But then again, what is that really saying? I can't go out by myself to run? I have to spend extra money to get home later at night? And if something were to happen to me, if I were raped, would it really be my fault for going for a run on a Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. by myself?
Every day I read something about the rift that seems to be opening in this country between the people who are questioning the status quo and the people who are happy with the things the way they are (or better yet, want to return to things the way they were "back in the day"). Women are questioning what it means to be equal. Poor and working poor people are questioning where their piece of the pie is. Immigrants are wondering where their rights are. Citizens want to know why they are paying for the mistakes of others. Parents want to know why our children continue to kill and be killed in the classroom and on the streets.
I have another friend (a Facebook acquaintance really) that is pretty radical - at least where posting stuff on social media is concerned. He rails against Obama, racism, the government, our wars, mainstream media, fake activism. He can be pretty challenging. He sometimes puts people off because even if they agree with him on most things, he'll push a little more. There are sometimes I which I could be that progressive; that radical. But it's hard to take a stand like that sometimes. It means possibly putting myself in harm's way either literally (by running by myself with it's dark outside) or figuratively (by possibly alienating people I care about).
I feel like I'm a pretty reasonable woman. I think I listen to others, try to understand, even if I don't really agree. But to what end? Am I being reasonable to people who don't even try to see my point of view? According to George Will, if I am raped, I'll belong to a privileged class. Does it come with the same rights and privileges of being a rich white male? I think not.