Friday, September 23, 2011

mind body mama: Risk Averse

I taught self defense again last week, and just like in every other workshop I got some push-back to my assertion that the responsibility for sexual assault lies solely with the pereptrator.

“But what about those girls who go out and get falling down drunk?”  somebody wanted to know.  “They’ve got to take responsibility for their own actions.”

Those who know mindbodymama well know that I do not endorse going out and getting falling down drunk as a responsible lifestyle.  You will recall that I am cheap; I am risk-averse; and I am overbooked. 

Alcohol is expensive to begin with.  If I can’t drive myself home after the party I also have to lay out cash for a cab and you know that’s not in mama’s budget.  (Mama needs a new kitchen.)  Mama is clumsy enough when stone-cold sober; I’ve been known to twist my ankle in a pothole on my way into a bar.  I do not need further inhibitions to my coordination.  And while I may be able to shoehorn in a few hours to party with you, I can’t clear tomorrow’s agenda to sleep off said party.  Mama has places to be, people.

But these are not the leading reasons I do not endorse public drunkenness.

In fact, there is a self-defense argument against getting falling down drunk.  A big piece of self defense is being the worst potential victim possible.  I live in a world where one in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.  Since that’s the world I have to move in, I don’t feel safe being sleepy, pukey, distracted and uncoordinated.   I’d prefer to stay sober and be alert, strong, aware, and prepared.

It’s a risk averse response to a treacherous reality.

If I went into a basement to avoid an air raid, would that make me responsible for the bombing?  If I evacuated from a coastal town ahead of a hurricane, would that make me responsible for the storm surge?  

Planning ahead for the possibility of violence against me is the sane, responsible, self-loving action of a queer female in a very dangerous world.   It does not, and never will, make the violence against me my fault.

Here’s the little anti-victim-blaming parable I shared with my class:

Mindbodymama’s house sits in the downtown district of a once-and-future milltown.  One block to the right sits a tavern; two blocks to the left sit two more. 

Some of mindbodymama’s neighbors have an unfortunate relationship with intoxicating beverages and as such have lost their licenses to operate motor vehicles.  In my neighborhood incidents of walking or biking under the influence are not uncommon.  

One day a drunken gentleman fell off his bicycle and passed out in my front yard.

This was witnessed by me, Sweetiebabyhoneylicious, and our awesome next door neighbor, the Motorcycle Man.

As this gentleman lay passed out drunk in my front yard, no one stole his wallet.

No one stole his bicycle.

And no one sexually assaulted him.

In fact, what we did do was call the authorities to come take care of him.   Then the Motorcycle Man stood with him and waited, to be certain that he didn’t hurt himself or asphyxiate on his own vomit before the police arrived. 

There is a simple reason this falling down drunk man was not robbed, raped, or left to die, and it’s  not because he was practicing brilliant self defense or stellar life skills.

It is because we are not thieves. 

We are not rapists. 

And we are not dirtbags.

If you fall down drunk and knock your teeth out on a rock: it is not the rock’s fault.  Girlfriend, you have a problem.

If you fall down drunk and someone bashes your teeth out with a rock, it’s also not the rock’s fault.  And it’s not your fault either.

When someone assaults you—no matter what condition you’re in—there is only one person responsible for that action.  That’s the perpetrator.   

How can this be any clearer?


rae said...

thank you, its so clear. i wish everyone could see with this clarity.

Lynne Marie Wanamaker said...

Hi Rae--It's an honor to see you here!


Well said.