Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

As easy and difficult as pie

From the Editor


August 30, 2018

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of tips for young women to stay safe outside. Anything from “Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail, because it’s easier for an attacker to grab it,” to “Never leave your house alone,” and “Don’t carry a purse because that’ll make you a target.” Oh, and a personal favorite (not really), “Be lazy and take the elevator — stairs are where attacks happen.”

These tips are given and passed around with the very best of intentions. Especially in the wake of Mollie Tibbets, the young woman from Iowa who was murdered, parents want to know their daughters are safe. So these things get passed around. New tips are offered in attempt to guarantee safety.

But this world is just never going to be safe like that. It’s not.

That doesn’t mean these tips shouldn’t be offered up. Absolutely, we need to be more aware of our surroundings and trust our instincts when we sense danger.

What I don’t like to see, though, is safety turned into crippling fear.

For example: I have family members who will not go to St. Cloud. If you didn’t know, St. Cloud is the largest hub for sex trafficking in Minnesota. While that is important to know and to consider when planning trips over there, here’s the thing: St. Cloud does not exist in a vacuum. It’s not like the criminals who are perpetrators of trafficking get to the edge of the city limits and say, “Oh man, we’re at the edge; better turn back.” That’s not how that works.

Again, I’m not advocating for just going anywhere at anytime, willy-nilly. There’s common sense involved. But if we were really worried about safety in all situations, how many of us would drive? How many of us would eat cookie dough raw? How many of us would do half the work we do on a daily basis? (OK, yes, I get it, apples and oranges, but I think there’s something to this consideration.)

What gets me about all these safety tips is they’re targeted at the victims. Yes, we need to be responsible for our safety; I’m not questioning that. But we are missing out on an important piece of the conversation by just focusing on safety tips. We’re not talking with our young men who often are the perpetrators of these crimes.

Why? Why is that? When we see horrific news flash on our screens, why do we immediately bundle up our young women as quickly as possible instead of turning to our young men to say, “Don’t do this”? Why don’t we say to them, “You do not treat human beings this way”?

I know it’s not as simple as that, but in a way, it is as simple as that. Truthfully, I don’t believe in the basic goodness of all humans. I think we’re pretty messed up. Totally messed up. But I do believe we have been given common grace to live decently. People do it all the time. People don’t rape other people all the time. People don’t murder other people all the time. It is possible to live a crime-free life. Shocking.

I would be more interested in the safety tip conversation if we poured more energy into guiding our young people into productive, helpful members of society.

I found “Rape Prevention Tips” online by Wendy French. They’re tongue-in-cheek, but I honestly think we need to have more conversations like this.

#1 - Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

#2 - When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

#3 - If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

#4 - If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

#5 - When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

#6 - Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

#7 - Remember, people go to the laundry room to do their laundry. Do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

I’ll skip the last few because you get it by now. I hope you do.

So, yes, read the safety tips and think about them. Tell your friends. Women help other women. Take that self defense class. But don’t forget to also talk to the boys in your life.


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