If you want to make yourself “less appealing to street predators,” Psychology Today advised in 2009, dress down while near high-crime areas. Be alert, walk with purpose, and don't let people stop you. Don't walk alone after dark, be careful when approaching your car, and don't flash money around.
We suspect that many people found that advice helpful in a common sense sort of way, and we doubt that Psychology Today was deluged with angry social justice warriors outraged that the magazine was “blaming the victims.”
But some things have become so politicized that it's almost impossible to approach them with any attempt at common sense. Just ask Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas, sometimes described as “a prolific Facebook user and outspoken supporter of the Second Amendment.”
Responding to a Sunday story in the Indianapolis Star in which a sexual assault victims' advocate recounted her own sexual assault in 1994, he posted a hand-written letter to the article's author, suggesting a follow up story “about the thousands of Hoosier women that are taking steps & learning how not to be a victim.”
Some commenters on Facebook stood up for Lucas and said women who learn to use and carry firearms are “empowering” themselves. But most let him have —well, both barrels. “This letter does nothing but further the culture of rape by placing responsibility firmly on the rape victim,” said one response. Said another, “How about teaching men to be respectful of women. Instead of women learning to 'mitigate' the risk, maybe men and boys should learn that rape is not an option for your desires or deficiencies.”
It doesn't help that Lucas has become well-known for some of his outlandish social media outbursts, including ones not exactly supportive of women. “Wanna know who loves you more: your wife or your dog?” he posted last year. “Lock them both in your trunk and see who's happy to see you when you let them out.” That joke is so ugly that it is no stretch to mine it for misogynistic underpinnings. It makes it hard to give Lucas the benefit of the doubt.
But let's give it a try.
1. Predators are solely to blame for the pain they inflict.
2. Their potential victims should empower themselves any way they can.
Those statements are not mutually exclusive.