This comment is by Katherine, on the post Shuffling Feet: A Black Man’s View of Schroedinger’s Rapist
Rape by strangers is rare, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Talk to any of the women who have been raped or sexually assaulted by someone they didn’t know, and you know that victim blaming isn’t just something the cops do, and it’s not just something society does. It’s something victims do to themselves. Or at least, I do. No amount of knowing with the rational part of your brain that rape is caused by rapists and not by you opening the door, or leaving a door unlocked, or walking home alone too late, is going to make you feel any better or safer about what happened.
It’s not an excuse for anti-black racism, and ever since the Schroedinger’s Rapist thing, I have been way more conscious of whether or not I racially profile the people I see as potential threats when I’m walking home alone at night, or when a stranger rings more doorbell and I’m home alone. (Note: I don’t answer the door for strangers when I’m home alone unless it’s a delivery driver, in which case I always yell to my “boyfriend” that the pizza is here, or it’s a lady. I’m sorry, guys. I don’t want you in my house if I’m home alone if I don’t know you. Unless you have cookies, then we can renegotiate.) I do get nervous around people who are wearing black clothing, especially hoods, when I’m walking home alone, mostly because I live on a college campus, and pretty much everyone who has gotten mugged on campus described their assailant as a tall guy with a black hoodie and a knife in his pocket. And it’s possible that I get more nervous when I notice a black guy when I’m walking home late at night, because especially if he’s wearing black, I don’t see him coming until he’s already close enough to me that I couldn’t run away if I needed to.
I don’t know. I probably do engage in some class profiling and racial profiling in terms of who I see as potential threats, and that’s partially because of a bad experience I had years ago. And because there are a lot of pervasive (completely bullshit) myths in our society about the “dangers” of black men that make an initial fear response difficult to overcome completely. No, that doesn’t make it okay. It’s something I’m working on. But people who are huge and could clearly overpower me if they wanted to will probably always put me on my guard, at least until I get to know them. And you know, I have gotten to know amazing guys who freaked me out the first time I met them, so it’s not like being initially identified as a potential threat means that you’ve been clearly identified as a problem. It just means this isn’t a place or a time where I feel safe enough to take that risk.
photo: pong / flickr