Will Arming Women Prevent Rape? [Reader Forum]

Zerlina Maxwell went on Fox News and put rape culture on blast. Was her message effective? The Colorlines community responds.

By Nia King Mar 19, 2013

As **Jamilah King** reported last week, Zerlina Maxwell recently appeared on FOX News and [put rape culture on blast](http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/03/5_ways_we_can_teach_men_not_to_rape.html). Sean Hannity insisted that giving women guns is the best way to prevent rape, but Zerlina drilled home the point that rape is a cultural problem, and teaching men not to rape from the time they are young boys onward will help address its systemic roots. (It’s a particularly salient point, given the victim-blaming and confusion over [Sunday’s* guilty verdict](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/17/steubenville-rape-trial-verdict_n_2895541.html) for two Steubenville, OH, high school football players who sexually assaulted a drunken girl and–[horrifically](http://ideas.time.com/2013/03/17/steubenville-rape-guilty-verdict-the-case-that-social-media-won/)–spread the news over social media.) Though Maxwell spent much of her time on the show being shouted over, she was able to deliver a few gems, such as this showstopper: "If firearms were the answer, then the military would be the safest place for women and it’s not." Here’s what you had to say. **Tran N. Templeton:** > I’m not sure Ms. Maxwell got her point across too well on the show — Hannity’s "A rapist isn’t going to listen" line demonstrates how literal he (and the millions like him) understood her point. She was trying to get at masculinity (manifested so very well by the host himself) and the culture of rape, as you mentioned in the status update, but unfortunately the rapid fire nature of FOX News didn’t give her the space to fully explain herself. I’m sure conservatives who watched this probably didn’t think much of her "You can tell men not to rape" line, which is unfortunate because what she’s trying to point out is what needs to be said over and over again – her written piece for Ebony was exactly what was needed. I’m hoping what she spelled out for us in the article gets more widespread exposure so that FOX News viewers can really start to understand how things work. **denhartcreative:** > > Dear Ms. Maxwell, your utopian viewpoint is well taken. However, it is also severely misguided and misinformed. My suggestion is that you do this: spend some time with the inmates at a maximum men’s correctional facility (as I have). Get to learn about and understand the concept of evil. Do some advanced research on sociopaths. Clear your mind of the crap you learned on college and familiarize yourself with reality: evil people want your genitalia and they will do whatever it takes – even murder – to have it. They will listen to your dialogue, your suggestions, your psychological discourses, and then they will have their way with you. Because that is what they live for. Women, here is my advice to you: be smart – be prepared by learning to recognize the signs of sociopathic and psychopathic men. Learn self-defense course that teach you to kill – or at least maim – your attacker. Carry a weapon with you and leave the whistles and the reasoning at home. They do not work. Evil men will do evil things to people, and that cannot be unlearned. It is a condition of our society which is very real and very permanent. Evil exists, and you must learn to deal with it. NEVER think for a minute that you can sweet-talk an evil man into leaving you alone. After spending hour after hour speaking with inmates on San Quentin’s Death Row, let me reiterate: Ms. Maxwell is a naive fool. **parkwood1920:** > Wow, denhartcreative—anything to avoid dealing with men’s responsibility for ending rape, huh? Thanks for proving Zerlina Maxwell’s arguments correct. **Aaron Kuiper:** > What these people don’t understand is that there are people out there that are a threat, that will hurt you to get what they want, and they genuinely DO NOT CARE. They simply know what they want, and will do whatever they want to get it. The end. You can talk to them all you want, but evil people will do evil things. You need to prepare for "what if just telling them its wrong doesn’t work". To deny yourself a capable defense is a choice only you can make for yourself; why someone would make that choice is beyond me. I don’t see people forgoing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers because we have firefighters. An assailant can kill you much quicker than a fire, by the way. Too bad we don’t live in a magical kingdom where only good exists, sad I know, but it’s reality… **David Johnson:** > Your dead on denhartcreative, dead on. I didn’t like the way Zerlina Maxwell painted the rape issue, saying essentially men (not showing distinction of men who don’t rape) all men must learn not to rape. What that does is to make the woman think that all men are rapists and that all women should watch out for the man whoever they are. But as you said the sociopaths and psychopaths are the ones that won’t care about what she says or any woman says. In fact the way those men work they come across as understanding and trusting and everything else in order to get their victims confidence. Once there then they abuse and attack and even kill. Women should be learning to recognize the signs of of sociopathic and psychopathic men, instead of obfuscating the issue by giving cover to the ones that will rape regardless by acting a certain way to get close. > Also for the part where she said that men must learn to believe the woman when she says she was raped. What if the woman lied? What if the woman put some man in prison for decades over a rape they never did? What if a woman just use certain swords in her armory just to get back at a man because she can? Does the woman who got it wrong responsible for what happened? Should she pay for it in a civil court and/or in a criminal court? > I say this because even courts know that men lie, women lie and anybody can lie. You may hate the son of a bitch that has won the case, but if it was proven he didn’t do it he didn’t do it. **Brett Carrier:** > Great point. I felt the same way in reading this article. While women should take steps to protect themselves and popular culture can be changed to empower women and teach men respect, this article almost takes an opposite approach to "blame the victim" and essentially says if a male gets the chance he will rape you because that is what he does. I have an issue with the fact that according to this article every male I know, including myself, male educators, male police officers, even the postman would rape a woman if only he had the opportunity to do so. It’s wrong. Wrong to group all men under this horrendous title. **Jasmine Tse:** > > Yes, sure, the sociopaths and psychopaths will do harm and will stop at nothing to get what they want. But they are a small minority. The bigger issue here is that the majority of rapists aren’t sociopaths like we see on Law and Order. Most women are raped by someone they know, someone they trust. A guy they know at a party, a friend, a date, etc., and this sort of pervasive patriarchal rape culture is what allows "good" guys, like the guy who lives down the hall from you in your dorm, to go beyond the bounds of consensual sex and commit rape. Yes, the horrific and dramatic cases that we see on tv shows and that are reported in the news are definitely real, but that’s not what the majority of rape cases look like. Most of the time it’s not dramatic in the way we see it portrayed in the media, most of the time it’s a guy who thinks it’s ok to take advantage of a woman because he’s been conditioned to think that if he buys her dinner she’s obligated to sleep with him. Or continually harassing her, telling her "please baby, come on" until she finally cedes, because we have been taught certain tropes about women’s behavior – that they actually want to have sex and their no’s are not to be taken seriously. And as a woman it’s exhausting, physically and emotionally, to continually fight off unwanted advances and sexist and misogynistic images and ideals every day, which span from being catcalled and bombarded with unattainable beauty ideals, to feeling pressure to perform a certain kind of femininity to please men, to being confronted with very real, dangerous and scary situations in which your body is not in your control. This is what patriarchy and rape culture does to women, it breaks us down and teaches us that where our real place in society is. And, more importantly, it teaches men that they have the power, that women’s bodies are for their pleasure, that they are "owed" sex, that if they are persistent they will get the girl, that their needs and desires are more important than the woman’s sitting next to them, and that rape only exists as seen in Law and Order, that they can’t possibly be rapists because they are ‘good" guys. Well guess what, your society affects the way you act, how you think and what you believe is acceptable. And if we keep reinforcing and believing in gendered stereotypes and policing the way we are supposed to perform our genders (masculinity – forceful, aggressive, unemotional, rational; femininity- demure, coy, emotional, which quickly gets dismissed as crazy making women untrustworthy, including the no’s that come out of their mouths, and dehumanizes them) then we will continue to live in a rape culture, we will continue these cycles of violence and power and we will never gain true equality. **Alison Cecile Johns:** > the idea – that the men who are rapists are the men we share our homes with – is still causing cognitive dissonance. the meta-culture is still clinging to the ‘lone gunman/crazed criminal / isolated individual’ idea of rape, partly in order to avoid taking just the kind of responsibility Ms. Maxwell is advocating. **Alexis McKinney:** > Though she needed to adjust her point and its delivery…message received, PASS IT ON with thoughtfulness. You’re not BORN a rapist, so the idea that you can’t educate a man, or a boy before he becomes a man, about rape and aggressive behavior in order to deter that type of behavior is BEYOND RIDICULOUS if "we" continue choose to overlook it as an effective strategy…strategy of prevention. Goodness forbid we promote prevention (surrounding a myriad of issues)…priorities priorities priorities. **lauranelise:** > They didn’t give her a chance to speak or explain the point; I think she did a great job in a pretty much pro-rape culture environment. She was very brave to go there and use her own personal experiences in such a hostile setting. > Of course I also hope that the men-stop-rape message spreads further but I think she planted the idea as best she could very succinctly. If people care at all, they will look up the groups she mentioned and discover more about the movement. And with as wide a viewership as FOX has, that will be a lot of people! So, positive overall. Thank you, Zerlina! **CoreyLeeWrenn:** > Frustratingly little chance for her to explain her point, but I’m very impressed at what she was able to get out in the 2 seconds they allotted her. **Annalena Hukari:** > "If guns prevented rape than the military would be the safest place for women…and it’s not." oooopp… CUT TO MUSIC, she’s telling us truthful things that go against the Military-Industrial-Complex and we can’t let anyone hear that…*lalalalala*….we can’t hear you. Truth To Power, Zerlina Maxwell. I think that was THE most necessary sentence to debunk this nonsensical "if women had guns they wouldn’t be raped" bullhonkey. Learn it by heart, it’ll stop people in their tracks while they try to stumble for a comeback to "answer" with. **M Mary Zwaan:** > Zerlina speaks truth to women. Guns won’t necessarily help but [they can make matters worse](http://ideas.time.com/2012/04/30/where-was-stand-your-ground-for-marissa-alexander/). ——– Each week, we round up the best comments in our community. Join the conversation here on Colorlines.com, and on [Facebook](http://facebook.com/colorlines) and [Twitter](http://twitter.com/colorlines). *Post has been updated since publication.