How Not to Get Raped: The Smart Way

by | July 19, 2014
filed under Can-Con, Feminism

Femifesto infographic spoofing Ottawa police safety tips

“How To Not Get Raped”: A Tip Sheet By femifesto & Collaborators

On July 14th there were two sexual assaults reported to the police in Ottawa. The safety messaging released by the police, and the mainstream media’s response continues to be directed at women. These “safety tips” are unfortunately not unique to Ottawa. Versions of them are repeated in communities across the country on a daily basis. This has inspired femifesto and collaborators to make our own tip sheet on how to avoid sexual assault.

End #rapeculture & #victimblaming.

Safety Tips Released By the Ottawa Police:

Ottawa Police have issued safety tips on their website to help females protect themselves:

Ottawa Police say if you suspect you are being followed:

Ottawa Police say if you are attacked:


Image Transcript: How To Not Get Raped: The smart way

  1. Start Young: Learn self defence but know that you are physically limited and cannot defend yourself. Learn not to talk to strangers before you learn to talk. Learn not to walk alone before you learn to walk. Especially learn how to be accountable for your rapist’s actions.
  2. Trust Your Instincts: Avoid all environments where you feel unsafe and where sexual assaults commonly take place: walls, doorways, pillars, streets, sidewalks, corridors, elevators, lobbies, parking lots, cars, public transit, cabs, parks, bars, restaurants, apartments, houses, offices, universities, colleges, nursing homes and government institutions.
  3. Always Conform: Don’t embrace the power and pleasures of your own desires. Don’t dress to impress – yourself. Don’t find yourself gorgeous and alive and wanting to share that. Don’t wear flirty skirts or revealing dresses. On the other hand do not be tomboyish. Avoid any expression that does not conform to gender norms as some people may use rape as a way to “discipline” you.
  4. Don’t Ask For It: Do not smile or be charming. Be pleasant and polite to everyone you meet — if you’re hostile, you may be asking for assault. Also, be sure you don’t lead on your attacker. Never invite anyone into your home, but never be alone. Don’t be coy. Don’t be brazen. Don’t confuse anyone — mixed messages can be dangerous.
  5. Protect Yourself: If you live alone, install extra locks, buy a dog, and carry a small weapon. If you live with others, carry the dog and weapon around your home. Also, make sure you don’t carry the dog or weapon with you, as weapons could be used against you.
  6. Date Smart: Don’t go on dates alone, you could be attacked. Don’t go on dates in groups because then you could be attacked by a number of people. But don’t decline date offers either – insulting a potential suitor is just asking for trouble.
  7. If Attacked: Scream and struggle unless your attacker is the type who will kill you for fighting back. If you stay still for survival, make sure that they wouldn’t have let you go if you had resisted. Talk kindly to them, but don’t say anything that might sound bad in court. Protect yourself from injury, but make sure you get some bruises to count as evidence.
  8. Call the Police: Unless you face institutional barriers to accessing justice i.e. Aboriginal peoples, women of colour, persons with a disability, trans* people, queer folks, sex workers, Muslim women that wear the niqab, youth, low income individuals, homeless people, newcomer women, those with precarious status, Deaf people…you get the picture.
  9. Avoid Rapists: Most importantly stay away from those who commonly commit assaults; strangers, family members, friends, partners, spouses, co-workers, bosses, clients, teachers, doctors, teammates, and police officers. Be extra careful during peak times when rapes occur i.e. daytime, nighttime, dawn, afternoon, early evening, tea time, nap time. If you suspect you are being followed, go to a well lit area: unless you can’t because it’s dark outside – then set off a flare gun or light a torch. (Why are you outside when it’s dark anyway?)

Created by femifesto: Sasha Elford, Shannon Giannitsopolou, Farrah Khan, in collaboration with Rebecca Faria, Stephanie Guthrie, Julie Lalonde, Chanelle Gallant, and Lisa Mederios.

Inspired by the Ottawa Police:

Cross-posted from the Femifesto Tumblr with permission.

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  • Peter Kelly

    So this is were we’re at. A set of guidelines on how women can avoid being raped…as opposed to men simply choosing to act respectfully to women and leaving them alone.

  • This quasi-satirical post is a dangerously delusional misappropriation of frustration about one of life’s most complicated, and challenging facets of society. Sexually violent crimes are some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, but telling others that it’s not their responsibility to protect themselves (despite disguising the message ss this grossly oversimplified sarcasm) is an abhorrent attempt to dichotomize rape. Rape is committed by those who know rape is wrong, not by confused citizens, not by the boogey man. Giving people the impression that they shouldn’t protect themselves because they shouldn’t HAVE too, is like saying “it’s better to be raped and get your justice, than never to be raped at all.”

    The though of rape makes us cringe. We find the crime so disturbing we feel compelled to elevate this rational fear of it. We understand that “rape” is not a person, we can’t blame rape, so where does our focus go? We put our compulsion to work against the rapists. Without a rapist, there is no rape. But fear breeds ignorance, so we create a cognitive dissonance where we convince ourselves that rape is so heinous that the only possible way a person might commit it is if they are disturbed and apologized for, or blatantly unaware of it’s abhorrency.

    You don’t want to believe that rapists are people who just don’t care that it’s wrong, and do it anyways. You find the concept of universal consequence so comforting, that you assume any anti-social behaviour can be explained by a lack of diligence. It is incredibly dangerous to teach people they should be afraid, but as Ben Franklin said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” If you give people the tools to create their solution, they won’t fear the problem. If you tell people how to solve their problem, they will create the tools they need to do it. Shouting “Rape happens! But don’t protect yourselves!” is the epitome of a victim mentality. You strip people of their agency to protect themselves.

    Rapists know they will be punished, they just think they won’t get caught. Teach a woman how not to be a victim, and stop taking agency out of women’s hands by making self-preservation sound barbaric. A healthy amount of self-awareness is not victim-blaming, patriarchal oppression. You’re an adult, stop trying to push what little control you have away so that you can blame them when something goes wrong.

    • anditern

      You were so busy preparing your insightful (roll eyes) and meandering mansplaining response, you missed the point of the satirical piece. Read it again. There is no safe place! There is no way to ensure self protection! Go do something about preventing rape and while you’re at it, please find a way to be less dense.

      • You clearly don’t see how sexist and condescending the term “mansplaining” is, so I’d be shocked if anyone other than an idiot had enough respect for you to listen to your argument.

        I read it again–twice, and it’s nothing more than deeply misguided sarcasm, filled with so much resentment for the world around you that you sound like the only conspiracy nut with a degree in communications or graphic design. You’re drunk on the kool-aid.

        Regardless of there being no ‘perfect prevention’ of rape, complaining about it is trivial–as I’ve already made clear. Some problems in life are inescapable. Grow up, terrible things happen. Your attitude just screams “Since I can’t guarantee I won’t be raped, I won’t even try not to–instead, I’ll make passive aggressive posters.”

        Let me know what you actually read my entire comment, and not skimmed over it, before you lash out with the ridiculous idea that “he must be stupid if he doesn’t see my point.” I do, and your point is paranoid and dangerous.

        • anditern

          Here is an interesting Urban Dictionary definition of mansplaining. Check it out.
          “A man whom by virtue of the authority and privilege vested in him by society feels entitled to preach or explain how the world works. Bonus, if he is speaking to women, whom he perceives to be naive and ignorant, about problems and concerns with which women have real life every day experience, and the man has NO fucking clue what he is talking about. This is usually done in a patronizing insensitive manner.”Ex. I think women should…
          The problem with women today is…”

          Anyway, I really appreciate your words because you have made my life much easier. I teach a graduate course on the interconnected risks of trauma, violence, marginalization and stigma. I was looking for some good examples of exactly what you have done here, which is claim to be an anti-rape ally but in a manner that is so condescending and consistent with oppressive behaviour, it is not at all helpful. You make long winded, unsubstantiated pronouncements and declarations about everything from how women should view the world, what’s important, how they should react, what their attitude should be, what they should learn, motives, psychological states, how to show maturity, blah, blah, blah. Most of it is inaccurate and based on a premise that wasn’t made by the writers in the first place. It’s perfect. I don’t need to search for a current example – I can just cut and paste. Again, thanks for that.

          By the way, there is a waiting list to get into my course. You said you’d be shocked if anyone listens to me. Better call an ambulance.

          • I’ll be sure to look for your Urban Dictionary citations in your Master’s thesis then, mixed among the Andrea Dworkin quotes.

            Actually, if you look again, The only pronouncement I made to women is “Teach a woman how not to be a victim, and stop taking agency out of women’s hands by making self-preservation sound barbaric.” That’s it. The rest is gender neutral because I think rape is a society problem, not exclusively a woman’s problem. So no, unfortunately for you, I don’t make declarative statements. You’re welcome to think I’m talking down to women by making it sound like my comments are directed at women, but the language I use is clearly directed at everyone, and the dangers everyone faces when they think they have no responsibility to protect themselves. It’s pretty heartbreaking to watch you tell women that men are the problem. Your version of feminism, under the guise of helping women, just reeks of so much hatred and generalizations about others.

            Besides, even if I believed you were teaching a “graduate studies class,” I think it’s quite unnerving to think you or your students wouldn’t see how quoting an internet denizen lacks any academic merit. But you’re welcome to take my words and face out of context if that’s what it takes to fool malleable minds.

            So please, go forth and spread our filth, someone else will only clean up after you.

          • anditern

            1. I said the Urban Dictionary definition was interesting and to check it out. I guess you don’t know what a citation is.
            2. No one has stated the premise that people should not protect themselves. You pulled that idea out of your ass and then go on and on and on berating people about it.
            3. You make at least 10 pronouncements in just your first post telling the reader how they think and what they believe and asserting inaccurate opinions as facts. I think you need to look up the definition of declarative statement.
            4. Whether you are actually a man or are posing as a man is irrelevant. I am not going to use your post because there’s academic merit in the content. I am going to use it because it serves as a perfect example of what I said before, the rantings of an arrogant, uninformed blowhard posing as a helper ally. I don’t have to make up my own case study. It’s perfect. Again, I thank you for saving me time.

            Anyway, I’m done here. Ambulances seem to take a long time in your town.

  • moseyonby

    My oh my. What a horrible set of so-called “tips” from the Ottawa PD. I am saddened to see this crap. And fucking angry. And yet I’m not surprised. Ugh………
    What is particularly ridiculous about this list is that I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of women use the vast majority of these “safety techniques” ALREADY, and yet the violence continues. Plus this list is such obtuse mansplaination I could almost laugh if the implications of such published tips weren’t so materially horrible for real people in the world.