I attended my first Take Back the Night March in 1989, in my junior year at a private (formerly all-male) university with ivy climbing up the walls of its Gothic buildings. The stories I heard from sophomores and seniors and graduate students were a sobering reminder of why, whenever I walked back at night from the library or the office of the campus news magazine I helped to edit, a male student always accompanied me. I appreciated the companionship but I also felt, if a woman can’t walk across the grounds of this campus and be safe, what kind of school is this?
University administrators knew they had to do something. In my senior year, they hired a counselor for victims of sexual assault at the counseling center and poured all kinds of funds into awareness and prevention efforts.
That was more than two decades ago. But college and university campuses still aren’t safe for women. High schools aren’t safe for women. A University of North Carolina student faces honor court charges because she talked about being raped as a freshman. As Care2 blogger Jessica Pieklo has written, rape culture is thriving on college campuses.
There is one big difference between 2013 and 1989: the widespread use of the internet and social media sites that have given survivors of rape and sexual assault a way to voice their experiences, their rage and a whole lot more — a way to fight back. One great example is how, after someone started offering “advice” of a more than patronizing sort to women to be “safe” on Twitter using #safetytipsforladies, women stepped in and took over #safetytipsforladies. Some of the best:
1. @MikkiKendall: Only go outside when absolutely necessary. Who needs education, work, food or friends? #safetytipsforladies
2. @LeslieAnderson: Don’t walk home alone when it’s dark. Even a little dark. Or might be dark. Don’t walk home. Or walk. Levitate. #safetytipsforladies
3. @sarah york: Before reporting a sexual assault, carefully consider how it may affect your attacker’s college athletic career #safetytipsforladies
4. @Sara: Remember, smiles are invitations. Don’t smile. Just in case, don’t brush your teeth. In fact, get your teeth removed. #safetytipsforladies
5. @Katharine Heller: Since most rapes are committed by someone you may know, un-know everyone #safetytipsforladies
6. @Hilary Bowman-Smart: If you hide your forearms in your sleeves, the rapist will mistake you for a T-Rex and carry on his way #safetytipsforladies
7. @Kim: Most rapists are people, so consider only befriending animals and ghosts #safetytipsforladies
8. @Julie Karasik: Never breastfeed in public. Men can’t know that breasts are not theirs and theirs alone. #safetytipsforladies
9. @Miri M.: College women are at a higher risk of sexual assault, so don’t go to college. #safetytipsforladies
10. @DanaContreras: Most rapes happen above ground. Build a sprawling underground lair and adapt to a life without sun. #safetytipsforladies
11. @Kara Dennison: Good girls are invisible to rapists. Join a charity organisation and learn how to make woodland creatures love you. #safetytipsforladies
12. @Rebecca Ryden: #safetytipsforladies Rapists attack those who are wearing clothes. Don a large potato sac and rapists will know you aren’t ‘asking for it’.
13. @My Little Uruk-Hai: if necessary, transform your vagina into a black hole with red matter.#safetytipsforladies #meta
14. @Jill Sharpe: study witchcraft. if someone attempts to rape you turn them into a toad, or yourself into a toad. your preference. #safetytipsforladies
15. @Louisa: Turn just right during a solar eclipse and slip sideways into a parallel dimension where people value consent. #safetytipsforladies
Related Care2 Coverage
Steubenville Rapists Convicted, but Damage is Done
4 Easy Ways Schools Can Stop Rape Culture
The Real Invisible Women: A Look At Te’O And Campus Rape Campus