“The only thing I care about more than feminism,” writes Caitlin Moran in an interview with Salon magazine, “is being funny.”
I like Caitlin Moran — British columnist and author of “How To Be A Woman” — because it’s easy to like her. She’s funny. She’s accessible. I don’t like Moran because her highly public, self-appointed position as ambassador of feminism is undermined when she makes rape jokes.
In a recent interview with blogger Mia Freedman, Moran stated that she doesn’t wear high heels because they are loud and ‘alert’ a rapist that she is coming. This was her response to Freedman’s remark that a woman who walks home late at night is analogous to “(leaving) your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition.”
Moran is no stranger to controversy: Earlier this year, she incited anger by making a rape joke on Twitter.
This is not a column about whether or not people should take general safety precautions (the answer: everyone should). This is a column about rape culture.
Or, put otherwise, the consequences of subtle cultural blame-shifting that emphasizes teaching people not to get raped more than teaching people not to rape. Moran and Freedman’s comments play into a lazy, boys-club misogyny that makes rape seem more a crime of passion than power.
Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Period. Ascribing things like high heels to rape only exacerbates a cause-and-effect ethos, which communicates the idea that sexual violence is an effect, rather than the cause itself.
To describe a woman’s body as a car ready to be stolen is offensive for many reasons. Just because a car is running doesn’t mean you can steal it. Also, the comparison objectifies women. A vagina is not a sports car.
Freedman’s comment is not merely a harmless aside because it accompanies a long history of society dehumanizing female sexuality. As a feminist role model and how-to evangelist of being a woman, Moran should be held to a high standard.