April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. On college campuses, it usually culminates in a Take Back the Night march, an event promoting the idea that women should be free to go out alone at night without fear.
“Historically, women faced the anxiety of walking alone and that is why Take Back the Night began,” takebackthenight.org says. Or, as a letter to my old college newspaper put it, the event allows women to “take back what has been stolen from us—the ability to walk home by ourselves at night without feeling terrified. Men do not have the necessity to Take Back the Night, they already have it.”
Are feminists arguing that our society doesn’t spend enough time telling men not to do dumb things, like roam the streets drunk by themselves in the middle of the night? Maybe we should.
Crime statistics show that men certainly don’t “own the night.” In reality, they are three times more likely to be victims of assault by a stranger, and far more likely to be robbed, shot, or mugged. Men are carjacked twice as often. Men are 79% of all murder victims, and about three times as likely as women to be killed by a stranger. And while no one wants to blame the victim, we don’t hesitate to judge male crime victim’s choices. We don't tell them, "Yes, go to the ATM on that isolated corner by yourself at three in the morning. If you get held up at gunpoint, it’s a societal problem!"
That's because we know that robberies, muggings, and random assaults are crimes of opportunity—and certain behaviors make you an easy target.
But when it comes to stranger rape, feminists demand that we abandon all common sense. They went into hysterics when Bill O'Reilly aired a segment about Jennifer Moore, a young woman who was raped and murdered by a stranger. Apparently, O’Reilly was a “rape apologist” for noting that Moore was drunk and wandering the streets of New York by herself at 2 AM. The feminist line is that women are raped simply because they’re “in the presence of a rapist.” That’s true, but it begs the question: what kind of choices make you more likely to be in the presence of a rapist?
I can name a few off the top of my head. They include walking alone in the middle of the night, venturing into a shady area with no scruples whatsoever, and/or being too drunk to pick up on signs of danger. Nobody denies these are risk factors in other violent crimes, which more often affect men.
What do feminists hope to accomplish by demanding that women “take back the night”? For the rate of violent crimes against women to go up? For the murder rate to be 50/50? “Taking back the night” is one of those feminist ideas that sounds good on paper, but makes no sense when you start looking at the details.
Interestingly, women tell researchers they worry more about violent crime. Since we’re victimized less often, we’re probably better than men at assessing risk. What feminists call “living in fear,” I call being appropriately cautious.
Maybe, instead of demanding that women be able to walk alone at night, feminists should promote common sense—and encourage men to use it, too.