Explanations I’ve heard, in 2010, for why rape happens to the people it happens to: Women don’t lock their doors, women wear revealing clothing, women wear sexually suggestive footwear, women take the stairs, women walk outside alone, women drink too much. What I don’t generally hear stated aloud is the assumption behind most of these victim-focused approaches to ending rape: Women get raped because they go around thinking they’re equal to men.

Back in 1977, though, Venice, Fla. police chief Robert Ferry was happy to spell this all out for his fellow victim-blamers, in a column about rape prevention for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The article is called “Rape Most Often Crime Opportunity,” and it’s all about how women “get” raped, because they’re stupid like that. Also: Feminism.

He begins:

Rape is far more often a crime of opportunity than premeditation, due to the obvious physiologic involvement. Adult women are cognizant of this fact, yet allow situations of potential attack to develop, seemingly with little thought of avoidance. Why?

Translation: Even I, a man, can not begin to explain why women’s brains are so feeble, causing them to get raped so much. Nevertheless, I will try.

All people, men and women alike, dress to be their most attractive. The basics of human nature demand notice, admiration, in varying degrees from those around us. But, rape victim case analyses often indicate many women go overboard in the attainment of these commonly desired goals. Example: the night worker who dresses in peekaboo blouse, see-through skirt, with accompanying cosmetic signals of unattachment, when she knows she must wait 20 minutes for her midnight bus ride home in a questionable neighborhood.

Translation: While rape case analyses always indicate that rapists “go overboard” in their attempts to forcibly rape people, it’s much more fun to draw caricatures of slutty women’s libbers who confuse and arouse regular Joes through their “cosmetic signals.”

Don’t many sexual attackers come through open windows late at night? Some do, but how would they gain entrance if common sense precautions were taken by the women alone? One woman was attacked in her third floor bedroom by a rapist who climbed up to her unscreened, open window, using a ladder from her own garage that had been left unlocked. the only way she could have made it easier would have been to leave a key in the front door lock.

Translation: I think rape victims are both dumb and easy, but I have replaced “vagina” in this sentence with “front door lock” in order to protect the delicate sensibilities of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune readership.

The “new morality” and deepening convictions about women’s liberation have without doubt done much to increase the frequency of forcible rape.

Translation: Women cause rape!

Law enforcement is in agreement with women having equal rights, but we dislike seeing women place themselves in situations of high vulnerability to criminal attack, when setting out to prove they are equal.

Translation: Law enforcement officers agree that women should have the right to cause rapists to rape them.

Some common sense rules for preventing sexual attack are worthy of every woman’s consideration:

– Dress for the occasion or social situation you anticipate.

Translation: Carefully plan your “cosmetic signals” to not scream “rape me!”

– Don’t be ‘too nice’ to strangers, at your door or at social gatherings when knowing you will leave alone.

Translation: Be a bitch! Then read my follow-up column, “Why Go To A Party When You’re Just Going to Be A Goddamned Bitch to Everyone?”

– Avoid flirtations, unless ready for any eventuality.

Translation: Never flirt with olde-tyme Venice, Fla. police chief Robert Ferry.

– If you live alone, list only your initials in phone directories and on mail boxes.

Translation: Don’t be a woman! If you are a woman, don’t let anyone know that you are a woman!

In this listing, it is not the author’s intention to oversimplify by presenting only the most obvious. However, since a large percentage of sexual attacks against women involve a seeming disregard of the most common methods of prevention, it was felt utilization of limited space in this manner would hold the most potential value for all readers.

Translation: I am finally wrapping this up now, you dumb sluts.

It may come as a surprise to some that forcible rape, especially where juveniles are the victim, is all too often committed by a close family friend or relative. Baseless trust in all people known to you should not be awarded automatically, on the grounds that “nothing has ever happened before.” This particularly where children are concerned.

Translation: Even if you never wear makeup, go by your initials, avoid parties, never flirt, don’t take the bus, cover your body adequately, and lock your vagina, you may be raped by a close family friend or relative. This is also your fault, even if you are a child.


So. The victim-blaming “tips” I hear in 2010—-all those helpful crime prevention strategies presented as “common sense” for women to follow in order to avoid rape nowadays—-don’t explicitly blame equality between the sexed for rape. But 33 years later, the solution for reducing sexual assaults against women hasn’t changed: Tell them to stop moving about the world freely, and then blame them when they do.