If a woman is raped and she is drunk, it’s her fault. If a woman is raped and she is dressed provocatively, it’s her fault. If a woman is raped and she has been promiscuous, or has said yes before, or has kissed the man, it’s her fault. These are the rape myths peddled throughout society, our patriarchal culture and, crucially, courts. But that’s the thing about myths – they hold no truth and writer Maura Quint has found the perfect way to explain this.
Quint began a thread on Twitter with a relatable story, in which she went to a party dressed in a low-cut top, wearing dark lipstick and drank too much wine. A man asked her if she wanted to leave with him, presumably so they could have sex, to which she slurred, “Maybe.” If you’re dreading the end of this story, I don’t blame you – we’ve all heard the horror stories in which a “maybe” is ignored and a woman is raped. Luckily, this time, that wasn’t the way it went.
Quint follows up with a similar story. Again, she was out drinking, this time in a bar with some friends, when a man pulled her into an alley outside and kissed her. When he asked her if it was OK, she didn’t reply. Another time, she was kissing a boy on his bed and he took off his clothes. When he tried to undress her, she resisted. On both occasions, Quint was lucky:
We’d like to think most men would react the same way in these situations, but sometimes they don’t. Some of us know all too well that some men don’t care and it’s a roll of the dice which type of man you’ll meet when you’re drunk at a party, wearing dark lipstick and a low-cut top.
What Quint’s stories illustrate so perfectly is that rape, sexual assault, harassment and misconduct are a choice. A choice made by a man, and a man alone. Had Quint met a rapist on any of these nights, things may well have gone differently. But she didn’t, so the overused and often misguided argument of “not all men” came to fruition in the best possible way.
Women’s safety cannot come down to luck – whether they are raped or not cannot depend on who decided to go to the same bar or party. Because, while not all men rape or sexually assault women, far too many men do.