Volume 93, Issue 52

Wednesday, December 1, 1999


Awareness for women at large

Jerks are predators

Nice guys triumph in the end

Beliefs not appropriate

Looking back on an altered past

Homeless deserve our warmth

Awareness for women at large

Re: "Empowerment for victims" Nov. 18

To the Editor:

I am responding the Nov. 18 article entitled, "Empowerment for victims" by Clare Elias. I would first like to commend the author for tackling a sensitive and in-depth issue such as sexual assault.

As an assault prevention trainer, I feel that the article was slightly misguided and contained a number of fallacies that should be addressed.

First, as your cover page states, "Awareness is crucial in preventing and dealing with sexual assault," however the article demonstrates a lack of awareness by both the author and the interviewee. Contrary to popular belief, most sexual assaults, especially those frequently encountered by students, do not happen by someone hiding "around the corner." Although this can and will happen, it is comparatively rare.

Assaults happen in a variety of situations including intimate relationships, dating, residences, friends, family members and especially when alcohol is involved. Instead of making women at Western paranoid about walking at night, it would be more beneficial to teach them real awareness of how, where and when most assaults happen.

A few years ago, two sexual assaults happened in broad daylight on university campus. Following officer Tracy Frizell's advice of not "tempting fate," maybe women shouldn't come to school during the daytime. Since some assaults happen in residences, maybe women shouldn't be allowed to live on campus. Why not ban them from any alcoholic events as well? Limiting options based on irrational fear is seldom helpful.

In addition, there a few problems with the advice given by Diane MacInnis. While the few strategies that MacInnis provides probably have worked in some situations, the majority of people would not feel comfortable trying to "induce vomiting" or other similar tactics. Real self-protection strategy comes from having and projecting confidence to handle the situation. Why are women always taught to rely on "tricks" instead of learning self-worth and confidence, both of which can be learned through a good self-protection course? In addition, when an assault has gone physical, usually it is no time to try and "defuse" the attacker. Leaving or aggressively fighting back are the two best options.

Finally, the advice of striking the attacker in the knees or throat is not ideal. These targets are hard to hit for most people, instead use your palm to strike the nose or eyes, both of which are easy to hit and cause immediate pain.

While the article did have some good suggestions, in the end it perpetuates exactly what it is trying to avoid – lack of awareness and limiting women's options.

Vivek Nath
Nutrition II

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Copyright The Gazette 1999