By Sarah George | April 11th, 2018
The #MeToo movement rose to prominence in late 2017 when women across the country took to social media to share their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. Its goals centered on raising awareness, supporting victims, and--eventually--naming names. All of these are good things. After all, it is one thing to watch Law and Order: SVU and recognize the existence of sexual assault. It’s another to open your Facebook feed and see a friend, relative, or co-worker giving a personal testimony of their violation.
Rape is awful. Society would be much improved if it was obsolete. On this, we can all agree. However, thus far, #MeToo has not offered many actionable policies to lessen incidents of rape, choosing instead to focus on its aftermath by pursuing victim support and perpetrator accountability. This is not to say that either of these are unnecessary or unimportant, but the #MeToo movement needs to concede that while victim support is great, victim prevention is better. This belief is one that has long been held by proponents of concealed carry (CC) who recognize that a woman’s right to bear arms and defend herself is a safeguard of her empowerment and security. Realistically, concealed carry addresses two issues that #MeToo should have a vested interest in: providing a sizeable deterrent for sexual assailants and empowering women as individuals. Thus, at this juncture, #MeToo is in a unique position to ally with CC advocates and together, crack the partisan entrenchment of modern politics.
In the United States, nine out of every ten rape victims are women while men, according to “One in Four USA”, account for over ninety percent of rapists. These numbers are disconcerting to say the least, and numerous studies have been undertaken to explain why it is that men make up the preponderance of the latter demographic. The explanations range from childhood trauma to perverted biological impulse, but one thing remains constant: “men rape because they can.” This was the principal point made by professor and psychologist, Dr. Noam Shpancer, in his Psychology Today article “Why Do Men Sexually Assault Women?”. And he’s not wrong. According to the CDC, American men, on average, weigh roughly thirty pounds more and stand nearly half a foot taller than the average American woman. Biology has made it such that men, solely by virtue of their maleness, have an inherent physical advantage. Concealed carry levels the playing field.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), only 11 percent of rape and sexual assault incidents involve a weapon, and only 6 percent involve guns. This means that almost 95 percent of rapes are committed by men that would be woefully unprepared to meet the level of resistance a firearm provides. These rapes are preventable, and whatever tenuous argument can be made for rape as a function of biological imperative, there is a proven and inarguable biological drive for self-preservation. Rapists are not immune to this, and they should be made to feel the fearful uncertainty they are all too willing to instill.
However, as a society, our response to rape has largely been browbeating would-be offenders instead of equipping would-be victims. Of course men should be made to fully consider and fear the consequences of their actions, but at the end of the day, there will always be those that don’t, and attempting to turn predators into princes implies that women must always rely on a white knight. This is antithetical to our empowerment. In the face of a rapist, women must be allowed to be their own defenders.
According to the National Institute of Justice, when sexual assault is instigated, forcible resistance can reduce the risk of rape more than 80 percent. But not all resistance is equal, and in “9 Myths About Self-Protection,” Women’s Health debunks the oft thought notions that reasoning, screaming, fleeing, and even kung-fu style finesse will successfully deter an attacker. Injuring the assailant is the most effective assurance against assault, and when the window to mount a defense is so narrow, the weapon of choice is clear. CC is the logical sword and shield of the modern woman, and impeding or deterring her armament is no longer acceptable.
Ultimately, concealed carry is a girl’s contingency plan. A last resort, but one that should nevertheless be afforded to her. My father taught me that “a gun is an equalizer”, and said it was incumbent upon him to teach me how to defend myself from people that would take what I wasn’t willing to give. He refused to be complicit in my violation by failing to prepare me nor would he enable my infantilization by allowing me to believe that my real world safety was anyone’s responsibility but my own. Self-reliance is an integral part of empowerment, and women should not be made more vulnerable by those that claim otherwise.
However, to many, the proliferation of firearms, regardless of the reason, is anathema. That society needs less guns not more, is a popular position, and given the fact that data sets on the correlation between crime rates and gun rights are murky at best, this cannot be dismissed out of hand. Moreover, concealed carry is not without its own issues. As Tom Fuentes, CNN’s Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, helpfully mansplained on February 24th, women are basically incapable of having a gun on their person due to the fact they wear dresses... In all seriousness, concealed carry is not something to be taken lightly--but neither is rape.
In a culture that has come to view consent as the sole prerequisite for sexual activity, the #MeToo campaign has spotlighted the all too frequent instances when even that was absent. By encouraging survivors of sexual assault and rape to speak out, #MeToo successfully compelled the public conscious to truly consider this odious undercurrent of American society. But the time for consideration is waning, and women cannot continue to be beholden to the well-intentioned majority when a dangerous and despicable minority are such a clear and present danger. Rape is a reality, and to some, a seemingly foregone conclusion of womanhood, but if #MeToo is willing to look across the aisle, it does not have to be.
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