the saddest part of krista ford's tweet: women believe it

A few days ago, Krista Ford, daughter and niece, respectively, of Toronto City Councillor Doug Ford and Mayor Rob Ford, ignited a firestorm of anger and protest. Moments after Toronto police held a news conference warning women about a series of sexual assaults, she tweeted this:
Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore.

She has since issued one of those conditional statements meant to substitute for an actual apology and deleted the tweet.
I didn’t mean to cause such an alarm and I apologize if I did. I just want women to be safe.

Krista Ford, the problem with your tweet was not the alarm it caused. It's not that you said that women can avoid rape by dressing a certain way. It's that you apparently believe it. Many women do. It's the illusion of safety many of us use to exist in the world. If we don't do any of those things that cause women to get raped, we won't be raped. There. Now we can put aside this most primal fear, this thing too terrible to contemplate, and go about our day.

Trouble is, when women are raped, they remember these statements - they remember their own illusions. They heap blame upon themselves - blame they never deserve.

Trouble is, victims and survivors don't cause rape. Rape is a crime. Criminals cause crime. Rapists cause rape.

Krista Ford, "walking tall" and dressing conservatively are not rape defences. Nuns are raped. Little girls are raped. Boys are raped. Women are raped by strangers in their own homes, as I was. Women are raped by their dates, their coaches, their teachers, their neighbours, their husbands. Women are raped at gunpoint, at knifepoint, by fist and lead pipe. Women are raped by assailants using drugs, using brute force, threat of death, threat of harm to their children. Women are raped by men using all the weapons of terror.

Krista Ford, women can't prevent rape because we don't cause it. There are steps we can take to make ourselves a bit less vulnerable. None of it involves wardrobe. Most of it is luck.

Krista Ford, I'm not angry at you for this tweet. I'm sorry for you. I hope you never learn for yourself how the strategies you listed will not protect you. There's a much easier way to learn. Open your mind. Listen.


Unknown said...

yes, this conditional apology is not an apology at all. it is a butt covering, whinny thing, that is at best passive aggressive and shows her lack of knowledge on what she is talking about, at worst, an apologist for 'legitimate' harassment and assault. she misses the point, intentionally (because of her sense of privilege?) or otherwise (because of her sense of privilege?) that it matters not what a woman chooses to do with her clothes or her body - it matters that many men and women think that it does.

laura k said...

Many women without privilege believe this. Some of the most disgusting, anti-woman rhetoric I've heard has come from girls and women with no privilege at all. This is not a class issue. It transcends class.

impudent strumpet said...

Fun fact: carrying Mace is illegal!

I also noticed recently that most of the street harassment I receive is when I'm in my least sexy clothes. Might be blogging about this if I can develop it.

laura k said...

Fun fact: carrying Mace is illegal!

Nice. Maybe Krista carries pepper spray. Or Binaca, like Elaine used on Crazy Joe Davola.

I think most people's ideas or fantasies about how mace or a gun would protect them come from movies or TV shows, where things happen in discrete, choreographed movements.

Dharma Seeker said...

Pepper spray is illegal too. I was talking to my friend about this and we talked about the fact that if it hadn't been Krista Ford there mightn't have been any backlash. "people wouldn't have reacted the same way if it was just she wasn't famous, if she was just an every day person". I said THAT is the problem, she's expressing the views of every day people. As you said Laura, the biggest problem with her statement is that so many people believe it.