Just in case you haven't already seen this, I've been involved in a protracted and frustrating debate over a post by Sakshi linked to by Desi Pundit - a post where she argues that women should "behave sensible and make wise decisions" by "being careful when picking places to celebrate a night out" in order to avoid being victims of sexual harassment. You can see the discussion on DP here (a link to Sakshi's original post is also provided). The post is ostensibly about the molestation incident in Mumbai on New Year's Eve, though I've long given up on finding the slightest connection between the facts of that specific incident and Sakshi's claims.
It's been a frustrating discussion because, as you can see by clicking on the link above, the defenders of Sakshi's 'argument' consistently refuse to engage with any of the questions / issues that I and others are raising, choosing instead to play an entirely defensive role by explaining (read re-interpreting) Sakshi's original post and supporting it with a combination of shape-shifting definitions and logical sophistries (apparently, women can avoid being subjected to sexual harassment and violence by behaving sensibly and responsibly, but saying so is not judging those who don't do so in any way. Go figure).
It's an object lesson in the convoluted ways by which people rationalize their own biases to themselves and others. It's also an object lesson in how abstract platitudes and superstitious generalizations can come to seem like a point of view if you stick with them long enough.
So. If you're one of these people who think Sakshi has a point, here's my challenge to you. Give me one example, just one, of an incident of sexual violence that could, according to you, have been avoided if the victim had followed Sakshi's advice. That's not too much to ask, is it? After all, if what Sakshi's saying makes so much sense there must be hundreds, even thousands of such cases every year. It can't be that hard to find one.
To be clear: I'm not asking for some half-baked analogies, dime-novel fiction, fuzzy generalizations about women who "guzzle it down like a gutter", or superstitious nonsense about what might have happened to so-and-so if they hadn't been careful. I'm asking for a real incident - name of the victim, place, time, description of the event. Remember to explain why / how you think the victim could have foreseen that she would be in danger - why you think the probability of an incident at that time and in that location was greater than at other places and times, and how the victim could have known this ex-ante. And assuming you can make this argument (and I'd love to see you try) don't forget to explain why, given that the victim was acting in ways that you've just demonstrated to be irresponsible, she is not to be judged as being stupid and therefore not at least partly at fault for what happened to her.
Go ahead, the comments section is open.
I'm not even going to go down the whole loss of freedom / giving in to the fear line of argument on this one. Before we even ask whether giving up on freedom to ensure our personal safety is worthwhile, we have to ask whether 'behaving sensibly' can actually be done and will actually make a difference to the problem. And I'm unconvinced it will. All these arguments achieve, as far as I can tell, is create an atmosphere of fear while allowing the people making them to feel smug about how sensible they themselves are. This would be silly in itself - what makes it harmful is that sooner or later victims of sexual violence start to believe this nonsense and start to wonder whether they could, in fact, have done something to avoid it and this makes them feel worse about themselves. Even if you don't take the obvious next step of saying "she deserved it / she was asking for it" (and you can be sure someone will - by making this argument you're playing straight into the hands of the patriarchy), you're still achieving nothing but giving victims a sense of guilt that they neither need nor deserve.