"How You Can Reduce the Risk of Date Rape"

April 9th, 2017

Content Warning(s): Date Rape, Rape Culture, Victim Blaming, Gaslighting, Abuse

Day nine! April is Sexual Assault Survivor Month! This post will contain sensitive material; please exercise caution if you see a topic that could be upsetting to you. A final caveat: these are written from my limited perspective as a bi woman who was raped. I don't have all the answers and I'm still working through my own journey. There are many other kinds of sexual assault and abuse that are relevant this month. Take time to consider the needs of your diverse fellow survivors. Speak up for them when they can't speak up for themselves, but don't speak over them. Thank you!

As I'm recovering at Tekko, today's story is going to be fairly brief. I do work for an educational company that sends our company pdfs of textbooks and we provide side products for instructors and students. A lot of the time, we create PowerPoint presentations with images and tables from each chapter.

Almost a year ago, I was supposed to place the following table in a sociology textbook PowerPoint.

"How You Can Reduce the Risk of Date Rape":

  • Know your own mind, and don't give mixed messages. Examine your feelings, and decide whether you want to have sex - in advance, not in the heat of the moment. Be aware of the signals you send with your posture, tone of voice, clothing, gestures, and eye contact. Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. Don't expect your partner to read your mind. Be forceful and firm. Don't worry about being impolite.
  • Think about where you're meeting, and watch alcohol and drug use. Especially on a first date, avoid secluded places where you might be vulnerable. Go where there are other people. Be aware that drug and alcohol use (yours or the other party's) is associated with date rape. Have your own transportation arrangements so that you can get home by yourself. Pay your own way so that you won't feel obligated to your date.
  • For women - be independent, and trust your gut feelings. Women are socialized to be polite, but don't yield to rape just to avoid a scene. If you are worried about hurting his feelings, remember that he is ignoring yours. If things start to get out of hand, be loud in protesting, leave, and go for help. Do not wait for someone else to rescue you or for things to get better.

These are real words in a real textbook being distributed to real students RIGHT NOW.

As many of you might guess, this left me seething. As an act of defiance, I refused to place it or even mention it in my notes as something I wasn't going to place.

So I rewrote the table.

"How You Can Reduce the Risk of Date Rape":

  • Don't rape anyone.

Either the parent company didn't notice or didn't care about this omission since I never heard about it after that. It was both the least and the most I could do in this situation. I can't rewrite the book, and I can't contact the author to defy their work. But I CAN sneak in a small reminder that survivors are everywhere and won't sit idly by, nor will we always be loud enough that you hear the way we enact change.

Have you ever seen or experienced something like this in your workplace and been forced to comply?

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow's topic will be about the culture of professional ballroom dance and the metaphor it creates.


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