One of the current hashtags trending on twitter is #LiberalTips2AvoidRape. It started off as conservatives mocking liberals (based on something a Democratic Colorado legislator said), but I recently checked the hastag and there seem to be as many (if not more) progressives using it to mock the hashtag itself.
For instance, there’s this one:
#liberaltips2avoidrape: Don’t rape someone. Oh, I’m sorry, are these supposed to be sarcastic?
But there are still some originalist tweets out there, too, like this one:
#Liberaltips2AvoidRape Don’t carry a gun. Just call 911 and enjoy the next 10 minutes while you wait.
I understand that Republicans and conservatives suddenly acting like *they* are the ones who really care about sexual assault prevention is kind of laughable. But there is an actual argument going on here that is sort of substantive; it’s an offshoot of the general gun debate in the US. I myself probably support banning concealed weapons on campuses, because I believe that statistics show that having more people carrying around concealed weapons is likely to increase the prevalence of violence, not decrease it. But there are (at least) two actual arguments to engage in here: (1) Is that actually what the statistics say? and (2) Even if those statistics are correct, is any other compelling reason why we should still permit people to have concealed weapons on campus? There’s also a parallel argument to be had about whether a woman owning a gun tends to increase or decrease her chances of being harmed, specifically in the context of the threat of assault. (Again, I think the statistics heavily suggest that guns don’t actually help keep women safe in this way.)
But honestly, I find myself a little miffed at the liberal hordes out there who are suddenly acting like *they* are all hardcore feminists every time conservatives do something misogynistic. Conservatives are not the only ones to score cheap political points on women; they have valid points to make about Palin and Bachmann, for instance.
Then again, I’m sure that some people are legitimately outraged at conservatives using rape to score political points against straw Democrats, so I won’t suggest that all the mocking of the hashtag is in bad faith. And I am seeing some actually helpful information about sexual assault and guns being disseminated through the hashtag, so bully for that.
I guess I’m just tired of the trench warfare surrounding the gun control debate in the US, where people scream that their opponents are either unthinking pawns of the gun lobby or unthinking pansies who are putting their fellow citizens in danger through incompetence. What gets ignored in this newest context is that the whole country has done a terrible job at preventing rape and sexual assault. When it comes to preventing violence and specifically violence against women, none of us really have the moral high ground to scoff at the other side because the whole country has largely ignored the epidemic of rape culture.
It’s not just conservatives who have terribly wrong misconceptions about rape and sexual assault. It’s not just conservatives who think it’s okay to make rape jokes (and it’s a stretch to say this hashtag was originally a kind of rape joke–the butt of the joke was the supposedly clueless democratic legislators, not people who get sexually assaulted). So while it’s good that people are hijacking the hashtag, I can’t help but roll my eyes at the notion that liberals are TOTALLY AGHAST that anyone would use sexual assault for cheap political points or cheap laughs.
Welcome to America, home of the pervasive rape culture.