Warn women, or train men?

University of Oregon students and staff protest against sexual violence in the wake of allegations of rape brought against three  basketball players by a fellow student.
University of Oregon students and staff protest against sexual violence in the wake of allegations of rape brought against three basketball players by a fellow student.

Discussions of whether and how college-age women should take precautions to prevent sexual assault have provoked an impassioned response.

Cathy Young’s piece on teaching women self-defense is one side of the debate. We rounded up some other views and aggregated them here.

“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.” — rape survivor Zerlina Maxwell on Fox News


“The truth is that focusing on ways women can prevent rape will always backfire. Not only because it’s ineffective — what a woman wears or what she drinks has nothing to do with whether or not she’ll be attacked — but because it creates a culture in which women are responsible for men’s actions. Because when you say there are things women can do to prevent someone from raping them — owning a gun, not walking in a certain neighborhood — you are ensuring that rape victims who don’t take these steps will be blamed.” — Jessica Valenti, in The Nation

Get Truth and Consequences in your inbox:
Michael A. Cohen takes on the absurdities and hypocrisies of the current political moment.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“Why do we continue to address rape victims but not rapists? Rape and sexual assault are the only violent crimes in which we immediately propose what the victim could have done to prevent them, despite the overwhelming statistics that show there is truly little control over when and where and how a woman gets raped.” — Charles Clymer, on Huffington Post

“Many conversations around rape are focused on preventative behavior, like telling women what not to do, what not to wear, or when not to go out. But this logic doesn’t place any responsibility on the perpetrators. The old metaphor is that women who dress provocatively are the same as homeowners who don’t lock their doors at night. But this argument only further reduces women to objects and asks them to be responsible for preventing their own rape. “ — Ryan Broderick, Jessica Testa, Heben Nigatu,Buzzfeed

“Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, . . . to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.” — Melissa McEwan, on Shakesville

“Alcohol is definitely a huge factor when it comes to sexual assault, but in no circumstances is it ever the victim’s fault. Again we see our culture continuing to teach “Don’t get raped!” instead of “Don’t rape.” And instead of teaching people how to make sure they’re properly getting consent from someone they’re hooking up with, our society perpetuates a mindset that makes women feel guilty for a crime committed against them.” — Julie Mastrine, on Feministing