Target: Zerlina Maxwell
Goal: Thank Zerlina Maxwell for telling right wing pundit the truth about rape
The current gun debate over guns has elicited several arguments from both side of the issue. On the pro-gun side, many advocates have argued that guns are an “equalizer” for women who face the threat of violence and should have a weapon to protect themselves. They have essentially diagnosed the grave problem of sexual violence with the solution that ever woman should just own a gun. Notwithstanding the legal challenges women already face when going after perpetrators of sexual violence, the so-called “solution” completely removes the burden of responsibility of men not to commit such violence in the first place.
Conservative pundit Sean Hannity had a discussion on his show this week about the issue with guest Zerlina Maxwell. Maxwell, a rape survivor, dispelled one of the myths surrounding rape and demonstrated why ubiquitous gun ownership is not an effective response to the issue. She spoke about how most perpetrators are not “some faceless, nameless criminal” who jumps out of a bush, but often someone the woman knows, and therefore not someone she would be so willingly eager to pull a trigger on. In fact, 66% of rape victims know their assailant personally. Instead of theorizing unrealistic hypotheticals for women in a violent situation, Maxwell told Hannity we should be focused on teaching men not to rape. Maxwell was making the important point that we should be involving men and boys in this issue, and not pin all rape prevention on women as if rape were an inevitable part of the human condition.
In response to the very sensible idea that we should be focused on actions of the perpetrator and not the victim, Maxwell faced a backlash. She garnered a slew vile responses on the internet, including, ironically enough, numerous rape threats on Twitter and Facebook.
“Telling every woman to get a gun is not rape prevention,” Maxwell told Salon. “The reality is that we need to be changing how we train and teach young men. We need to teach them to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy. We need to teach them about consent and to hold themselves accountable.” This notion seems anything but deserving of such a horrific response, and demonstrates the hurdles and obstacles that remain in dealing with sexual violence.
Thank Zerlina Maxwell for bravely standing up to gun advocates, dispelling myths about rape, and enduring a foul and insensitive backlash.
Dear Ms. Maxwell,
It is often difficult for feminists to maintain fortitude in conversations with just friends and family, so we commend you for your courage to discuss such a delicate issue that has personally impacted you in one of the most antagonistic environments imaginable. The grace with which you handled the issue and the response is an inspiration to all of us who work to fight for women’s rights and awareness about rape. You are completely correct. Women should not have to own a gun to feel safe, we should be able to feel safe because men know they should not rape.
We lament the crude responses you received from faceless bullies, but hope you know how many of us support you and are fighting with you. Please continue to speak out against dangerous myths about sexual violence. As difficult as it may be, the work you do plays an immeasurable role in eliminating rape culture and raising awareness about such an important issue. Thank you for your strength.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Devon Buchanan via Flickr