When asked about sexual assaults on college campuses last night during the Miss USA Pageant, Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, now Miss USA, delivered what most would deem a fairly noncontroversial response:
I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.
Shockingly enough, the eternally outraged #YesAllWomen camp was not happy with Sanchez’s answer. Feminists took to Twitter to express their shock and outrage that a woman would suggest individual empowerment as a means of combatting rape.
“I get that the college sexual assault problem can’t be solved in 30 secs but still icky to pretend like self defense is the answer. #MissUSA,” tweeted Elisa Benson, senior community manager at Cosmopolitan.
Another Twitter user had a novel idea: “Sorry miss Nevada. we do not need to teach women how to better defend ourselves. We need to teach men not to feel entitled to rape #missusa.”
I hate to be the one to inform these women, but “don’t rape” is already on the curriculum.
According to feminists, women shouldn’t need to defend themselves against rape, and that’s true. People shouldn’t need to defend themselves against murder, theft, or terrorist attacks either. It’s horrific that people commit these crimes, and in a perfect world they wouldn’t. But rapists and murderers and terrorists are a fact of life. It’s not that the messaging campaigns around these issues aren’t effective; it’s that there are terrible people in this world.
Instead of focusing solely on collective shaming, why not also focus on steps women can take to protect themselves?