Thursday, 25 October 2012

Got this analogy on lock-down


Guess what time it is, folks? It's time for another installment of "That's not how that works".

I don't know what they're teaching kids in biology these days (or English, because these analogies are fecking terrible), but I've heard the following slut-shaming explanation quite a few times:
“If a key can open a bunch of locks, it’s viewed as a master key and is awesome to have. But if a lock is opened by a lot of different keys, well that’s a pretty shitty lock if you ask me.”
If we're talking about passwords and password-cracking software or encryption technologies like WEP vs WAP, or physical, tangible locks like what I put on our case that gets sent off to Iron Mountain every day, then yes. The above analogy is quite apt. It is much easier to crack a WEP-encrypted password than WAP or WAP2, so WEP makes for a mighty crappy lock/security measure.

If, however, we're just talking about an object's ability to fit into other objects, then that's where this analogy falls apart.

Let's say I am holding a little salad fork. Where can this fork go?
- in a jar of pickles
- up my nose
- in an electrical socket
- in the dishwasher
- into a lasagne

It fits into (or will make a hole into, as in the case of the lasagne) any of those things. Does that mean it functioned as a key? Negatory.

If the "penis is a key" and "vagina is lock" analogy is going to work, then this would be a more accurate representation of the bio-relationship between the two:

You're welcome. 

This witty blogger has their own satirical take on this analogy:
I’m not a misandrist, but let me put it this way: if a pencil has been in loads of pencil sharpeners, it’s probably a short pencil that wears out really quickly and should be thrown away! But if a pencil sharpener has sharpened lots of pencils, it must be a pretty good pencil sharpener.
Hahahahahahahaha.. heh... aheheh... oh, man. Hmmm. Dang it. Stabbing Westward was right. I have become the thing I hate

 But seriously, kids, people are not inanimate objects and genitals cannot be accurately analogized as such. It's disrespectful, it's dishonest, and it really just doesn't work that way. At all.

To offset the gif from The Thing, here's some lolcats and MST3K.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Was that a duck?

Pop quiz! If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a __________.

Can you spot the duck?

Yup. Definitely a duck. Look at that perfect example of a duck. I've got my eye on you, duck. 

Uh... yeah. Still a duck. Just, like, with a nose job or something.

Ah, there we go. Back to the definitive duck-action.

Uh... heh. Ok, you got me. It's a goose. But geese are like ducks, so nice try. 

Ye-ah... ok, so it's a swan. Point taken. Still, it could break your arm if you went up to it and called it a duck, so it's up to the swan to differentiate itself from ducks.

Ok, that's just mean. Yes, it's a duck even if it has mobility issues and can't walk quite like other ducks. Geez.

Uh... that's a movie character. It's some dude dressed up as a duck with animatronics and stuff.

Now you're just being sarcastic.

Ok, ok, I get it. Some animals have duck-like qualities and are otherwise totally not duckish at all.

.... you don't have to be rude ....

What the... what end is the...


To break it down for the uninitiated, when talking about issues including sexual violence and victim-blaming, etc, often we hear the aforementioned justification of "if it looks like a duck." Insert for "duck" anything ranging from slut, whore, n*****, f**, etc.

As you can see, it's not even straight-forward to describe a duck. Is it the bill? Is it the feathers? The affinity for water? Are loons ducks? Are geese just a tall and lankey species ducks? Do all ducks quack?

When it comes to women and the label "slut" (as just one possible example), it's even more complicated. Women and girls are frequently labelled sluts for every manner of perceived indiscretion, from the length of their shorts or skirts, amount of skin shown, number of sexual partners they're perceived to have had (real or imagined, really doesn't matter when slut-shaming), how they carry themselves, their profession, their hairstyle, their makeup, their height, their weight, their breastsize, colour of their skin (racism and exoticism of women of colour is a huge factor), who they associate with and family makeup (if one of their friends or family members has been labelled a 'slut', so much easier to label them as such), if they're perceived as flirty (again - reality doesn't matter so much as perception), marital status, etc etc etc.

This isn't hyperbole. This is what women and girls and queer not non-gendery-binary persons experience. Anyone who declares that there is a solid definition of whom can reasonably be labelled with a slur against their sexuality and that the lines aren't easily blurred to envelope whomever the slur-slinger wants to slander, is either blissfully ignorant or a baldfaced liar.

And, even if one happens to fall under the so-broad-as-to-be-meaningless definitions of slut, what then? If you are saying that sluts get treated as such, then you must have some idea as to what that treatment entails. And, here's a hint, it often involves violence.

If you aren't saying that you are sanctioning sexual violence against any one of the myriad of persons who, at one point or another in their lives or the course of a week, could be called a slut, then you really need to think more deeply about your words and their implications. Words matter. Words have meaning. Words can make the difference between supporting survivors of sexual violence or of supporting rapists.

Please think about your words and their implications, because they matter.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Victim-blaming under the guise of "personal responsibility" aka, That's not how cause and effect works


In the world of victim-blaming, one of the oft-used arguments people trot out is that people should exercise more "personal accountability". That they should be more "responsible" and "conscious that their actions have consequences". The reason I'm using quotes around those statements, is that those are all-too-often used against victims and not perpetrators.

I have zero issue with people accepting personal responsibility for not assaulting or harassing or abusing or bullying anyone else. I advocate that everyone should accept these as personal responsibilities, that they are personally accountable for the damage they wreak upon others when they engage in abusive behaviours, and that their actions have consequences, which should vary on the severity of what they've done. Raped someone? Go to jail. Called your little sister a caca doodie head and threw her Barbie in the neighbour's yard? You have to apologize, no desserts tonight, and no tv or internet for a couple days.

For example, I am personally responsible for many things.
  • I am personally responsible for getting to work on time.
  • I am personally responsible for ensuring my clothing is work and weather appropriate.
  • I am personally responsible for not sexually harassing or bullying anyone at work.
  • I am responsible for making sure I wear my steel-toed shoes and safety goggles when walking through the warehouse.
  • I am personally responsible for treating my coworkers with respect and, if I don't happen to respect them, to deal with my personality conflict with them in a mature and reasonable manner.
Now, there are things I am not responsible for:
  • I am not responsible for the cars I pass on my way to work and ensuring they stay on the road and don't run me over. I will stay on the sidewalk, keep my head up and stay alert and be on guard for traffic, but the rest is up to them.
  • I am not responsible for avoiding getting hit by lightning on my way to work, regardless of how well or poorly I dressed for rain.
  • I am not responsible for my coworkers sexually harassing me at work, regardless of my attire. Perhaps my boss can send me home to change if my outfit doesn't meet the standards I signed in acknowledgment when I started, but I'm still not responsible for the words and actions of my coworkers who are also fully-functional adults who are in charge of their own actions and reactions.
  • I am not responsible for accidentally slipping and falling if the floor is wet and not labelled to alert me to the danger. If I notice it without the signs, I'm responsible for making my way around or through, in whatever way I feel is safe and reasonable.
  • I am not responsible for avoiding hazards I am entirely unaware of, haven't been trained to deal with, and would have to be psychic to know about or avoid. I am responsible for doing whatever it is in my power, as an adult who has survived into the second decade of my 20's, to keep safe and sound, but in the end my power is limited to keep the rest of the world at bay.
Even when I accept responsibility for my actions and how I interact with the world, there are reasonable limits to what cause and effect should be.

I start my walk to work and haven't tied my shoes.
  • Reasonable cause & effect:
    • I trip and skin my knee and, if I'm really off-balance, maybe even fall into the path of traffic.
  • Unreasonable cause & effect:
    • another pedestrian notices my untied laces and pushes me into traffic, or a driver notices and barrells off the road to hit me
Let's say that it's chilly but I decided not to bundle up for my walk.
  • Reasonable cause & effect:
    • I am cold, maybe get a cold or flu or pneumonia
    • If it's really cold I get frostbite and and/or hypothermia
  • Unreasonable cause & effect:
    • another pedestrian notices my predicament and pushes me into a snowbank or a puddle, or a snowplow veers off the road to play a game of tag with me.
If I survive the trek to work, let's say I use company time and materials to make a lot of assinine comments in an online forum
  • Reasonable cause & effect:
    • People call me out on them, including and up to reporting my comments to the moderator if they violate the terms of service, or reporting them to higher authorities if they contain a threat or pose a concern of illegal activities.
    • At work, I might get disciplined for contravening the companies IT policies. If this is a recurring issue, I might even lose my job. 
  • Not a reasonable cause & effect:
    • My name and home address, telephone number, Social Insurance Number, credit card info, etc, are posted publicly with a call out to others to cause me physical, financial, and emotional harm
Now let's say I'm unemployed and decide to drown my sorrows at the local pub.
  • Reasonable cause & effect:
    • I drink too much and puke, make an ass of myself when I fall over into a table, get cut off and bounced from the club
    • If I drink too much, I could wind up with alcohol poisoning and if I try to drive myself home I could get arrested for drunk driving or wind up in an accident
    • If I assault someone while I'm drinking (or I'm still sober and they're drinking), I am blamed for it, and I am held accountable (legally, morally, socially, etc) for my actions against them. No matter how much I've drank, no matter how much they've drank, no matter what signals I assume or later say they were sending - I am still 100% responsible for my actions.
  • Unreasonable cause & effect:
    • Someone notices how intoxicated I am and decides to rob me or sexually assault me
    • I'm blamed for actions others took against me while I was intoxicated, forgetting that I didn't assault myself - someone else did that and is responsible for what they did.
After my misadventures at the pub, I may go home and blog about my worries, and potentially post a Youtube video describing my melancholy.
  • Reasonable cause & effect:
    • My friends see my post and either lament with me, or remind me that I lost my job because I was being an irresponsible jerk
    • My mom calls me and asks me why I'm being all emo on the internet and that my aunt saw my post and told her because she was worried about me
    • Strangers on the internet might comment on my video rudely (assuming my settings allow public comments) and I may not like all of what they have to say. Some of their comments might hit too close to home, might make me have to think about my part in what's happened to me, might shine some uncomfortable lights on the issue, or they might just be way off base and stupid.
  • Unreasonable cause & effect:
    • I get spammed with violent, misogynistic, and hateful posts that far exceed what is reasonable in response to my original post
    • Posters start following and harassing me, my friends, my family, with an unrelenting tidal wave of threats, calls for me to end my own life, violently graphic passages and images
    • Pornographic images of me are either uncovered or created using Photoshop and are sent to me, my family, my friends, my employer, etc.
    • Upon reaching out for help against this wave of abuse, I'm blamed for having had the audacity to post anything in public.
    • After being bullied, harassed, assaulted, stalked, and emotionally beaten down for a couple years with no legal recourse and my harassers receiving no consequences for their actions, I commit suicide, and am then blamed for that, too 
The main thread through all of this is that I am only responsible for the consequences of my own actions and my own words. It's because I am an adult. It's because I understand cause and effect and the Just World Hypothesis and because other people have the exact same responsibilites I do.

Thanks for reading. Here's some MST3K and lolcats.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A self-indulgent post of self-care, including much MST3K and lolcats

I'm going to be delving into a lot of intense topics coming up, partly relating to the loss of Amanda Todd to criminal harassment by a sexual predator, and partly inspired by the regular and ongoing clusterfuckofshit that is life in a rape culture.

So, in preparation, I'm going to post the funniest, cutest, most brain-meltingly adorkable things in this post for easy reference for myself and readers when they need a brain-cleanse. I'll be tagging this post at the end of future articles in lieu of pics right in the article to clean-up the format and so less people balk and say, "I can't take that blog post seriously. There are lolcats! Nothing good or profound or scientific EVER came from lolcats!"

Fie to them, I say! FIE!

Aaaaaand, now for the lolcats and GIFs!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, I think that about covers it. I'll probably add more as I see fit. Hope you enjoyed the show.

Friday, 12 October 2012

An All Too Common Case - What We Can Do

This is being reposted in its entirety from a note an intelligent friend of mine wrote today:!/notes/kira-spiderm-ayn/an-all-too-common-case-what-we-can-do/10151256016235907

*Trigger Warning: suicide, bullying, violence, asshattery**

The case of Amanda Todd is truly heartbreaking. The horrible actions of these bullies and the complete lack of justice are disgusting. Unfortunately hers is a story that is all too common.When a story like this comes out and everyone is reaching for the nearest box of tissues, flipping tables or clutching their pearls, I have to wonder about some things.

Where were all these crying supporters when Amanda Todd, or anyone like her, was still alive?

It is easy to say you support someone once they are dead. Too often people ignore victims (or take part in the victimization) and then come around crying when that victim has up and killed themselves. That is nothing more than a shameful grab for attention and sympathy which just further takes away from the victim.
To prevent suicides we must examine why people become suicidal, the treatment suicidal people currently face, an how we should/should not deal with these situations.

Today, let's focus on the treatment victims currently face. (The "why" topic deserves its own note)

Suicidal people are treated like criminals rather than people.
Cops are called, they are abducted from their homes under threat of arrest, they are yelled at, their coping mechanisms are taken away (if they cut), they are alienated and forced to go to hospital, they are then interrogated by "crisis workers". They are either kept there, or released to deal with this new traumatic event on their own.
It is like their mind is not their own and their lives are there to be examined and picked apart by anyone who has any questions.

They are brutalized, analysed, dehumanized and scrutinized.

This treatment further teaches the victim that (s)he cannot talk to people when (s)he is feeling upset because (s)he might be forced to undergo the same treatment again.
This effectively silences victims, thus taking away yet another coping mechanism.
That is not helpful to people who are feeling that life "is not worth it" anymore. If anything this treatment combined the new lack of major coping mechanisms makes for a more dangerous situation.

If you actually want to help someone who is, or has been, suicidal here are some things to do/not do:

-Be physically there (being alone is part of what is making them feel alienated)
-Assess the situation and their state of physical health (if they just swallowed a bottle of pills or have a very deep/life threatening cut, then get them medical help. (Small cuts don’t count here since they are often used as a coping mechanism). Be there WITH them throughout any needed medical treatment)
-Stay calm (put aside your own emotions and help them deal with theirs)
-Talk to them yourself
-Speak softly
-Actually say that you care (list the reasons why if need be)
-Ask or let them know you are going to hug them before you do (some are triggered by touch)
-Bring them a warm and/or caffeinated beverage (this will sooth them and perk them up)
*-If you can’t be there for them that moment, set a time/date for when you can with them (then keep it)
-Follow their lead, if they want to talk listen. If they want to be distracted, then go along with that.
-Be respectful
-Let them know why they are important to the world
-Help them come up with coping mechanisms that work for them
-Be present in their lives especially after they have confided in you

Afterwards do:
-Make future plans (ie: there is a party I am going to in 2 weeks, you should come too)
-Give them time to heal, or give them space (as they request)
-Do some research of your own and be sure to take time for yourself (your health and safety is important too)
-Help make the world a better place (ie: take a stand against patriarchy/rape culture, racism, intolerance, hate, etc)
(People often don't want to "live" because our world is so messed up. It is time we all stood up to fix this world and make it a more desirable place to exist.)

-Threaten to call the cops/”mental health” people
-*Make it about you (there will be other times for that)
-Break up with them (If you feel you can't handle it, deal with that on your own time, the focus is on them right now. See if you can work through this together.)( If you were planning break up with them before this situation arose, you can wait a few days until they are in a safe state.)
-Make promises you can’t keep (this will only further break their trust)
-Define their situations/experiences for them
-Deny their experiences/feelings
-Try to get rid of them or distance yourself by using insults (it is NEVER EVER okay or excusable to say "you're just not worth it/my time")
-Speak over them
-Tell them how to feel or how to react
-Diminish their coping mechanisms (even if you disagree with them)
-Use the age card. (ie: but you’re so young!) Age is irrelevent and is not an indicator of how many horrors they have faced.
-Tell them that “it will get better” (you don’t know that it will, so that is lying)
-Think you can't help
-Tell them they are reacting badly/over reacting
-Tell them they aren’t “normal” (Often they are reacting normally to an abnormal and unfortunate situation)
-Shame them
-Victim blame or propagate rape culture
-Bring religion into this

If you actually want to help someone who is suicidal (while they are still alive) you ultimately have to acknowledge that you cannot fix their problems for them. All people are broken in some way, but they fix themselves. All we can do is give them the emotional support and love they need to help themselves. We need to recognize and treat these victims as humans rather than science experiments there to be examined whenever and by whomever.We as a society need to stop re-victimizing victims with threats of “mental heath” bullshit and actually start BEING THERE.

All in all, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a “professional” to help someone out of a bad situation.
You just need to be a friend.

-Kira Ayn

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Clothes don't cause rape. Clothes cannot prevent rape.

There are many ways that the clothes we wear can protect us.

When I am at work, there is a dresscode that requires I wear safety glasses when walking through the warehouse because there is a lot of active machinery that could potentially shoot debris into my eyes. I also have to wear steel-toed shoes because there are forklifts and much equipment about that could pose a hazard to my precious piggies.

Even when I was working in call-centres, we would have to wear shoes that covered our toes and were thick enough to protect us from stray staples and other sharp detritus that may lay hidden in the carpet.

And then there are other jobs that I could only dream of working that have even more specific clothes built to deal with particular dangers of the trade.

Seriously, I can't photocopy in this.

There are definitely occasions when we need to dress with safety in mind.

Preventing rape is not one of those occasions.

Rape is not a workplace hazard that can be mitigated with an extra layer of fabric. I cannot wear bright, reflective tape to let rapists know that I am not the prey they are looking for.

"Well, I was going to target him, but then I saw the reflective vest and realized he wasn't the vulnerable demographic I intended to victimize."

Telling women not to wear "slutty" clothing is not safety advice, because "provocative" clothing does not increase one's chance of being targetted by a sexual predator.

According to this Duke study:
"While people perceive dress to have an impact on who is assaulted, studies of rapists suggest that victim attire is not a significant factor. Instead, rapists look for signs of passiveness and submissiveness, which, studies suggest, are more likely to coincide with more body-concealing clothing."
The same study found that people tend to assume that "provocative" clothing makes one a larger target for sexual violence. This isn't surprising, because when a myth is repeated over and over, it becomes so embedded in public consciousness that a lot of people tend to believe it without considering if they should. They just accept that the myth is the truth because they don't know any better.

This is one of the reasons we need to challenge the rape myth that clothing=protection or safety from sexual violence. Those who work with survivors of sexual violence know that victims come from all walks of life, starting from infancy up until old age. We know that the groups who are more at risk of sexual violence are persons who cannot protect themselves, such as persons with disabilites, or who have much less protection of the law due to intersectional oppression, such as trans folk, persons of colour, and sex workers (just to name a few). The sex workers are not targeted because of the clothes they wear. They are targeted because our society assigns them much less personal value and is less likely to hold their attackers accountable.

Are there ever any instances where women who are wearing "provocative" clothing are raped? Of course, because clothing doesn't cause rape and cannot protect one against rape, and rapists target people in every manner of outfit.

"But", you may ask as you play devil's advocate because you care so darned much, "But, what if we can help women to prevent even a fraction of the incidents of sexual assault by getting them to cover up?"

Well, oh-so-original-and-caring concern troll friend, I'm sure you will get some traction with that. Because there are women who were raped when wearing short skirts who will hear you or will hear your advice repeated, and who will internalize that blame. Some of those survivors, like many people, will fall back on the Just World Hypothesis in trying to make sense of what they've experienced, and will think, "If only I wore jeans that night, maybe I would have been spared."

If you fall back on the lazy tactic of trying to police wardrobes instead of the aggressive actions of abusers, you will contribute to victim-blaming and to the tools that tell rapists that if they can find any old rape myth to deflect blame from themselves, others will help them get away with their crimes. People who sincerely care about victims will help you. Survivors will help you. It's not that your tactic is unpopular, it's that it's harmful and really misses the point: the only person who decides who and when and why to sexually assault someone is the perpetrator.

The advice of, "More clothing will keep you safe," is as evidence-based and statistically sound as me selling tiger-repellant rocks. I always keep a rock in my pocket when walking through Toronto, and I have yet to be attacked by a tiger. It must mean that this rock wards off tigers, not that there haven't been any tigers to attack me.

Long story short, lecturing women on their clothing choices will not help protect them from sexual violence.

Clothes are not consent.

Men are not mindless, slavering beasts that can be attracted to attack someone, like a lion to a slab of beef.

Rapists are not some mythical force that operates on a different level than the rest of society and can easily be lured into raping someone if they happen upon an alley or wear the wrong outfit.

And, seriously, if anyone happens to chat with Dave Chappelle, give him a heartfelt "Fuck you" from me for feeding trolls with the victim-blaming "Whore's uniform." idiocy that pops up on anti-rape pages with frustrating regularity.

If you are telling women what they should wear because you are sincerely concerned about their safety, then here is some tangible safety advice that you can undertake today and pass along.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

But, seriously, why can't we just shoot all the rapists?


**Edited to clarify that I support women who choose to arm themselves with guns. The issue this post aims to address is the blanket-advice to arm all women, regardless of circumstance, to stop rape**

As a follow-up to the post "Kill all rapists!...", here are some practical considerations to take into account when trying to tell women that they all should arm themselves as a method of rape-prevention.

To start off, I believe that people are the experts in their own lives and are the only ones who can accurately decide what safety measures relate to their lives and experiences, and how to react in the moment when they are threatened/ attacked. If individuals are comfortable with owning and handling a gun, that's their prerogative and I don't begrudge them that. Women are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves if a gun will increase their personal safety, and of learning to handle the weapon safely, accurately, and effectively. My issue with the advice of arming all women as a measure to stop rape entirely is that it simply doesn't work as blanket advice for every individual and every situation. All too often, women are accused of not being serious or dedicated enough to their own personal safety if they're not willing to shoot and kill an attacker.

With that in mind, here are some quick groups that armament won't help, that I really don't think need any further clarification (or least I sincerely hope not):
  • infants and children below the age that are legally able to carry firearms
  • persons with disabilities that prevent them from being able to handle a firearm
  • persons with mental health issues that would make possession of a firearm exceptionally unsafe and irresponsible
I hope we can agree that persons from those groups should not be expected to arm themselves. Unfortunately, those groups make up a large portion of the victims of sexual violence.

Another group is persons who may not be empowered to take violent action against their attackers/ abusers because of the severe repercussions they themselves could likely face:
  • persons whose abusers are their caregivers (this can include children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities)
  • persons who are being attacked by someone of higher authority: a police officer, a judge, a politician, a famous actor/athlete/physicist, a teacher, a coach, a religious leader, a parent, prison guard, etc.
  • persons who are marginally housed or homeless and who are already have an adversarial relationship with the justice system
  • persons of colour, whom the justice system judges much more harshly against, even in cases of self-defense, than identical cases involving white folk
These also happen to be people who face much higher rates of sexual violence than the rest of the population, not least of all because abusers know they can use their positions of greater power against their vicitms.

Next, there are some people who may not want to have firearms:
  • pacifists who do not believe in responding with violence under any circumstances, including those whose religious beliefs dictate such
  • parents who are afraid their young children may get a hold of their weapons
  • persons with abusive partners that have not been able to move out and have reasonable fears around keeping weapons in the household
  • persons who are not comfortable around guns due to a history of family violence, PTSD, having lost a loved one to gun violence, or any other of a million valid reasons
Now that we've got those groups out of the way, we'll assume that the advice of "carry a gun" is just being directed at this time towards women who are old enough to legally own and responsibly handle a firearm, who want to carry a firearm, and who can conceivably arm themselves at all times because of the particular gun laws where they live.

Let's say that I'm walking through an alley (I know, I know - why would I do that if I value my safety and vagina?) Let's just say that there's construction on the street and all foot-traffic is being diverted through the alley. Let's say I hear footsteps coming up quickly behind me.  I'm armed, I'm alarmed, and someone grabs my arm! I turn and fire off a bunch of shots into... a nun who was trying to return the wallet I dropped. Well, that was a justifiable homicide, right?

Ok, let's be more serious. Let's say that I'm on the subway and it's later at night, maybe around 8 or 9pm, and this far up on the line it's deserted except for me and a man who is staring at me. His stares are making me quite uncomfortable, so I try to keep myself occupied by reading Facebook on my phone. Then, I realize he's masturbating. Can I shoot him, yet? Do I have to wait to see if he approaches me? If I wait, am I just giving him signals that he's safe to assault me because he's already violated my boundaries and I haven't done anything about it?

How about I'm at a house party and a friend is drunk and being really overly friendly and handsy with me. She pulls me in for a kiss, even though I've been trying to keep her at bay all night. Do I shoot her now? Do I wait until she tries to stick her hand down my pants? And if she does, is that enough to shoot her? Or am I only supposed to be shooting men? And what if it's a woman sexually assaulting a man? Can he shoot her? Is this just the kind of protective violence we sanction in theory coming from straight ciswomen to straight cismen, or can people of any gender identity shoot anyone else who attacks them without concern for how the law sees them?

Let's say that I'm fast asleep in bed at home and I wake up and my husband of 20 years is having sex with me in my sleep? Can I casually reach over into the nightstand and grab my gun and shoot him? Do we run drills like we would fire drills so I can practice going throught the motions of shooting someone when suddenly woken up out of a dead sleep?

What if it's a Thursday afternoon and I'm catcalled on my way home from work? Can I shoot the catcaller in the face? I don't know if I ignore him or respond if he'll react with anger. I don't know if this interaction will escalate. I don't know if I'm in physical danger or if he just wants to spook and publicly humiliate me. How long do I have to wait to make sure?

What line has to be crossed before I get the go-ahead?

What threshold has to be met in order for me to shoot any of the people who make me sexually threatened in the course of a day or a week or a month or my lifetime?

Do I have to wait until it's "too late" and they've already penetrated me? How is carrying a gun then a prevention measure as opposed to a measure of vegeance and inhilliation afterthefact?

Does the advice of "carry a gun and shoot all rapists" have anything at all to do with a realistic notion of safety, or is it a gratifying way for people to feel like they're adding something constructive to the conversation without having to do any of the heavy-lifting of understanding how rape happens?

I don't know if the people who give the advice of "carry a gun and shoot all rapists" know how often women feel sexually threatened. The thing about sexual violence, is it's a part of a continuum of unwanted sexual behaviours, and we never know whether or to what degree it will escalate. That's not because we're not aware of our surroundings, or we're inexperienced, etc. It's because the degree of escalation is not up to us - it's up to the perpetrator.

Things like peeping, public masturbation, groping, breaking and entering, etc, can all be a pre-cursor to more extreme levels of sexual violence. Or the perpetrators may not escalate. The people they target do not know whether or not this will escalate, because we are not psychic.

If you really, sincerely think that giving a good number of the population access and permission to use lethal weapons against people who are sexually threatening, then be prepared for a lot of bloodshed, because these transgressions against our physical boundaries happen to a lot of people on a regular basis.

Or, you can start passing along some tangible, effective safety advice that can start working right now, today, towards reducing the instances of sexual violence, and that doesn't require people to kill each other.