I'm a fan of columnist Sally Kalson and appreciate her attention to gender issues and inequities. As the director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at Slippery Rock University, I know that sexism continues to thrive. Thus, I found Ms. Kalson's April 14 column, "Taking the Offense Against Rape," particularly interesting.
"Anti-rape lingerie" (which delivers a shock to a potential perpetrator when he touches the wearer without her permission and which can send text messages to police and family members) is a fascinating approach. However, given that between 75 and 85 percent of rapes in the United States are acquaintance rapes, in which the victim knows her rapist, and given the pervasiveness of a hook-up culture where casual sex is the norm and participants typically have no relationship outside of the hook-up, such a device seems doomed to failure.
Ms. Kalson's closing line -- "The best defense has always been a good offense" -- perpetuates two cultural myths: that women are responsible for avoiding rape and that the rapist is someone she does not expect. The cultural narrative that reinforces that only stranger rape is "real" rape needs to be rewritten, and we can only do this with open dialogue -- in our schools, our homes, our churches, our sports teams -- about the dynamics of rape and the very real likelihood that the rapist will be someone you know, regardless of your sex.
Department of English
Slippery Rock University