Calling the shade of Golda Meir

Time to haunt another woman-as-cats’-meat reactionary.

A Tennessee high-school principal withdrew a teenage student from a weightlifting class where she was the only girl. Why? Because he was concerned that the boys in the class might try to rape her.

[Then-principal Bob] McCracken said in a deposition that he was afraid [Ambrea] Phillips might be sexually assaulted in the class.

“Having a female with 35 or so male students in an isolated area from the school, it sets a very liable situation in my opinion,” McCracken said in the deposition.

He changed his mind 3 days later and reinstated her. She got an A, which means she must have had other class members spotting for her, which means that the boys actually were capable of seeing her as just another weightlifter instead of a rape object.

Ambrea Phillips is now suing the school district for $1million. I hope she is joined in the suit by the boys in the class, as well as the coach.

How insulting for the boys in that class, to be viewed as incapable of controlling themselves if they were surrounding a young woman. How insulting for the coach of the class, to insinuate that he would either stand by or join in. Lastly, how utterly illogical to restrict the girl’s activities through fear of the boys behaving badly, which is where Golda Meir’s famous remark about curfews to protect women from rapists comes in.

“But it is the men who are attacking the women. If there is to be a curfew, let the men stay at home.”

Obviously the principal has internalised a few too many rape myths. Women who go out and about where there are many men are asking for it apparently, and so the men have to make aggressive advances – they just can’t help it!

As commentor Unkunvenshunal at Feministing wrote:

What’s really sick to me is the fact that the message they’re giving the girls in this high school is that if you don’t want to be raped, YOU have to change what you’re doing – it’s your responsibility to stop what you’re doing, not the man’s to control himself…..putting the responsibility back on us which is total bullshit. We shouldn’t have to live in fear of being raped, just because we’re the only female in the room.

She’s so right, but even the author of the otherwise excellent article on rape myths I linked to above couldn’t resist diluting his message about the myths surrounding rape by including an appendix headed thus:

Rape victims are not to blame, but they can make themselves less vulnerable by assuming more responsibility for their lives.

He goes on to give advice that assumes the most common rape danger is from the classic stranger about to jump out of the bushes. That would hardly have helped this high-school student if her male classmates had been the ravening animals the principal suggested, would it? Stranger-danger is not the major issue in rape avoidance, as nearly all rapists are known to the victim, at least as acquaintances and often as close associates. No matter how well a woman “takes responsiblity” for lessening her risk of rape from a stranger, that still means she has only decreased her risk of rape by a small fraction.

Yet most men, the vast majority, do not rape. I know many men who are rightly insulted by anyone who insinuates that men in general can’t control their sexual urges around women. Curfews and special restrictions are not the answer for women, and despite Golda Meir’s excellent rhetorical skewering of her fellow politicians, it’s not the answer for men either. It is however very interesting that there is far much more outrage against any suggestion of restricting men’s activities than there ever is against the usual bromides of restricting women’s.

Related Reading: The Grand Coverup



Categories: gender & feminism, law & order

Tags: ,

2 replies

  1. The impression I get from the principal’s words as you quote them here was that he was fearful, in a dementedly litigious society based on the notion that money should be got out of any situation if possible, of somehow ending up being sued. There is therefore a particularly delicious irony in the subsequent events.

  2. Schadenfreudelicious!

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