6.14.2011

What I Wore to Talk About Rape

I wore this to:
- work
- distribute rape incident awareness/safety tip flyers in my neighborhood

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t-shirt & skirt/american apparel
^links to my post on am.app.
shoes/sweatshop retail
necklace/craftyfolk {etsy}


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There have been a number of rapes or attempted rapes in my neighborhood in the past few months. The way the police have handled the situations has been less than satisfactory (see link above). And the police officers' effort to alert us about the situations was just simply not good enough. Their temporary vehicle-station was in my neighborhood for 2 days before I got wind of why they might be there, even though they considered this point to be a place for news to be disseminated. They've now been here well over a week and still, not one cop has spoken to me about why they're there - the sexual assaults and rapes.

I felt like something else should be done. I ended up getting together with 2 other neighborhood women to create a rape incident awareness/safety tips flyer and post them en masse from one subway stop to another. Women walked up to us as we were hanging flyers and said the flyers were the first time they'd heard of the incidents (the cops had been stationed in our neighborhood 4 days at that point) or thanked us for hanging them. I think we have 90 flyers up to-date.

Community outreach is so important. If you are in a position to raise awareness about things that help others, please go for it!


Most of the women I speak with state that they're not victim-blaming but wondering...were they on their cell phones? Texting someone while walking home? Wearing headphones? My mind wanders to how well the 16th St victim would have been able to fight off her attacker and flee in heels vs the running shoes she was wearing. (This is the #1 reason I stopped wearing heels last year: limited mobility can really screw me in the long run. What heels give me just isn't worth it for what I get back with flats.) Of course, you can't let things like this dictate what you can and cannot do. But we all make value judgments somewhere, when we hear of these incidences, as to how we best feel protected.

We all pick our own weapons. My mother tried to push pepper spray on me. But I'm short and small and any weapon I have can quickly be turned against me. For me, I'm most comfortable with things I'll have on me anyway (keys) and the fight/scream/flee trio in addition to being very aware of my surroundings.

Beware and be armed, ladies. Whatever that means for you!

8 comments:

  1. Good for you for being pro-active!

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  2. That is really scary stuff. Proud of you though for caring enough about the women in your community to do something about it. Keep yourself safe lady. Be alert. Walk briskly and always have your keys ready - stuck out - between your 3rd and 4th knuckle (or 2nd /3rd).....so my dad taught me.
    x

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  3. In NYPD training, the officers get pepper sprayed in the face for 2 weeks so they become immune to it. I've considered doing something similar, so that I don't have to worry about it being turned on me.

    Apparently the NYPD closed the first reported case without a suspect, which is very bad and would explain the lack of publicity.

    I don't think discussing how the victims could have avoided being victimized is as productive as trying to catch the rapist and stop other rapists from raping.

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  4. @ Sarah -
    I didn't know they did that in training. Interesting.

    I attended the CB7 Safety Comm mtg last night with 72nd precinct officers present and I don't have much faith in their efforts, frankly, starting with the 16th St rape. When the incident where the officers refused the tape containing the attempted rape was brought up, the officer called the attendee a liar.

    Right now only the 27th St. rape victim has positively ID'd the person who turned himself in as the person on the Dunkin Donuts security camera. Right now they have a physical ID in a lineup on him but I think no physical evidence. No physical ID came from the victims of either 16th St. or 55th St. so they are looking to pin it on this guy with physical evidence/DNA, which is apparently not available to the cops yet and is still being examined.

    Most of the discussion around the situations have been about police accountability vs what the victims could have done to avoid the attacks. However, as happens with most traumatic incidences like this (fires, robberies, etc.) people play through in their heads how they might fare in a similar incident and most base their safety precautions on their thoughts surrounding it. I hope it doesn't sound like these private wonderings that came up in conversation are actually blaming the victims. I think people were examining what they do and how that might play out if they were in a similar situation, which is just human nature. (ex. how we might fare if pepper-sprayed; we think about it but it's not implying it's someone's fault if they do or do not carry pepper spray).

    So, anyway, the flyers we posted were for people who were not aware of the situation due to the cops missing them (not everyone is online or speaks english) and to impress upon people that this is a community and we should support each other in safety (again, the cops should be doing their jobs and catching the rapists and helping make the area safe...I'll leave it at *should*). Many people thanked us for hanging them and it started a few discussions as we were hanging them re safety in the neighborhood, which is exactly what we wanted. (My friend lives on the 27th St block and apparently no one came to see what the screams were about because there's a house with frequent loud domestic violence issues and people assumed it was that...again. Interestingly, at the CB7 mtg this came up as an issue and family members were deterring each other from calling the cops on neighbors' domestic disputes because they didn't know that you could do it anonymously.)

    I'd be happy to fill you in more over coffee if you want add'l info or to talk about what is productive in creating a safe neighborhood.

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  5. "This is the #1 reason I stopped wearing heels last year: limited mobility can really screw me in the long run. What heels give me just isn't worth it for what I get back with flats.)"

    Absolutely. Danger aside, a woman's got to run for the bus or dodge a mean dog sometimes.

    It's wonderful that you're speaking up and helping protect your community.

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  6. wow, I'm so sorry that that kind of violence has been happening in your neighborhood. Good for you for raising awareness. So important!

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  7. I definitely re-posted the flyers to the Kensington blog on Monday, because I agree that people should know to intervene and get help if they see anyone being victimized, whether or not it's by this serial rapist, and reminding them to do so never hurts.

    I also agree that feminine trappings like high heels, long hair, tight pencil skirts do make it physically harder for us to run from attacks, and that's probably at least partly why.

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  8. Sheesh, I am so sorry to hear about that stuff happening in your neighbourhood. I'm glad that you're part of a community of women who can stand up and raise the issue with others. Be safe!

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