Column: Women are not to blame
Perspectives on Walter Block
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2012 18:03
As a feminist, Loyola alumna and women’s historian, I found several fatal flaws with the “facts” argued in Walter Block’s column, “Several fatal flaws mar the feminist movement.”
Block begins with an argument against feminism that would make any philosophy professor’s head explode: “If they (most people) favor something — anything — it is probably immoral, fallacious and wrong-headed.” Not only is this statement the definition of an ad hominem (and a red herring, for that matter), it also holds interesting, if not damning, implications for Block’s endorsement of capitalism, the chosen economic system of “most people” in America.
I won’t even respond to the second ad hominem of his article, that “Feminists are typically socialists, communists, etc.,” because I have self-respect. Nor will I respond to Block’s statement that, “There is a wealth of empirical data attesting that well armed women are safer,” because anyone with a computer and the Internet (“as well as common sense”) can prove him wrong.
But now to the core of Block’s magnificent and groundbreaking argument: Take Back the Night is only beneficial because when rapists are contemplating it “they are laughing so uproariously” that “they are incapable of raping anyone.”
Well, Block, what you fail to realize is that rape is not just a physical assault that can be healed with self-defense classes and an AK-47. Rape is an assault against an individual’s feelings of self-power, control over one’s own body, security within one’s body, comfort with one’s sexuality and, most importantly (in the context of Take Back the Night), faith in the protection of one’s community from these assaults. So no, Take Back the Night is not beneficial because it makes rapists laugh. Instead, and I know this might be too subtle for you, it is beneficial because the event is focused solely on “taking back” one’s power after an assault with the full attention and support of one’s community. It’s about women and men declaring that survivors will not be silenced by the humiliation of the assault, that survivors will not be driven into hiding by the brutality of the experience and that survivors will not let their community forget that these assaults are occurring.
But more importantly, what Dr. Block fails to realize is that women are not being raped because they are unarmed; they are being raped because men think it’s OK to penetrate a woman’s body without her consent. Can you see the difference, Dr. Block? Your argument blames the rape survivor for not properly protecting herself from an assault, while my argument places blame on the rapist. To be clear: women’s actions do not need to change to stop rape. Instead, our social ideas about the sovereignty of women’s bodies and the behavior of men need to change.
Dr. Block, if you had even one ounce of the courage and grace that Take Back the Night speakers and participates possess, you would be incapable of writing such a cowardly and disgusting column.
Jennifer Hunt A’11