This morning’s coffee conversation centered on rape. In particular, mass rape as a tactic of war. Discussion veered toward rape prevention, rape counseling, the whole cultural constellation of psychologies, techniques and frameworks for processing rape, as individuals and in communities. I said something strident, something like, “If your program for dealing with rape does not include training in streetfighting for women, I am not listening to you.” And I’m not. There is an obvious response, readily at hand: prepare women for the possibility of rape. Prepare them by teaching them ‘effective negotiation.’ How to say ‘no.’ How to recognize when saying it isn’t going to suffice. How to make ‘no’ a reality: delivering a warning shot. And when a warning shot does not suffice, how to fight a rapist. How to fight with everything you’ve got. There are ways to reduce or eliminate the usual discrepancies in physical power between rapists and their targets. Eye-gouges, testicle attacks…use your imagination or your experience to illustrate. If you are training women in how to fight, I will listen to your therapeutic suggestions. If you’re not, then I respectfully decline to listen.
A woman in South Africa invented a device that is sold as a rape-preventative. It is worn in the vagina. It assaults any intruding penis with painful spikes. Now, I wouldn’t classify this as a preventative measure, rather, it is a punishment device. And punishment is an appropriate response to rape. On what moral grounds could one possibly deny that?