Women: Have you practised your ‘anti-rape face’? (Thought not…)

Female students at an American university were told to practise ‘anti-rape’ facial expressions, during a talk on sexual assault. Radhika Sanghani reports on a clear case of victim blaming and explodes the myths surrounding rape

What on earth would an anti-rape face even look like?

What on earth would an anti-rape face even look like? Photo: Alamy

Don’t want to get raped? Better start working on your anti-rape face.

At least, that’s what students of Ramapo College in New Jersey were told in a talk given at their university last week.

Cory Rosenkranz, the school’s coordinator of substance abuse and violence prevention, was invited to give a presentation on sexual assault, as part of programme to train students on how to advise their peers.

But it backfired when she told female students to watch their body language and facial expressions.

“[Rosenkranz] started the presentation by talking about preventative measures… but then it became kind of peculiar, the extent she was taking it to,” attendee Brandon Molina told university newspaper The Ramapo News.

“She was saying that women need to watch their body language and that women should practise how they articulate their face [in a social setting] by practising in the mirror.

“My thought the whole time was, maybe women shouldn’t practise how long they’re blinking, men should just not rape people.”

Rosenkranz’s comments sound like victim-blaming – her advice falls into the same category as ‘anti-rape products’ such as nail varnish. The suggestion being that it’s down to women to stop any potential predators.

And that’s not even taking into account what on earth an ‘anti-rape face’ looks like. Anyone?

It’s no wonder the university felt the need to issue a tweet stating: “Ramapo College’s approach to sexual assault prevention is and has always been to not blame the victim.”

Perhaps Rosenkranz would benefit from being reminded of these rape myths

1) Some rapes are worse than others

Nope. While rape by a stranger can lead the victim to lose their sense of safety in the world, a rape by someone known to them can lead to a loss of trust and safety with those they know.

All rape is sexual violence. End of.

2) A rape victim will always be hysterical

People wrongly assume rape victims will be hysterical and crying

Rape victims are not always crying or hysterical. A natural human reaction can be for them to actually be very numb.

3) The rapist didn’t realise she didn’t want it

This is known as the sexual miscommunication theory, where people think that the rapist didn’t know he was raping, because he thought she was saying yes.

But to say that ignores the fact that rape would feel different from sex.

4) Rapists are strangers lurking in dark alleys

People commonly assume that rapists hide out in alleyways waiting for their victims. But actually, the majority of rapes are committed by persons known the victim and victims are often raped in their homes.

5) When a rape victim reports it, she’ll be in court soon

People tend to think that if a victim walks into a police station and makes an allegation, they’ll be in court two weeks later. In reality, it takes between a year and 18 months for a case to make it into court, if it even does at all.

During that time, evidence is evaluated by specialists to see if there is enough for a possible prosecution.

6) Rapists are mentally ill monsters

It’s a general belief that men who commit rapes are mentally ill or ‘monsters’. But studies show that only five per cent of men are psychotic at the time of their crimes and few convicted rapists are referred for psychiatric treatment.

7) Rapists don’t have anyone else to have sex with

People assume that men who rape do not have the opportunity to have sex with a willing partner, or is sexually frustrated.

But actually rapists are just as likely as any other man to be having a relationship with a woman. On top of that, more than one in five women are raped by their husbands or partners.

Besides, even if it were true, it wouldn’t matter. Because rape is never, ever justifiable.

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