Kit Steinkellner
November 07, 2014 12:21 pm

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a major problem with rape education is the enormous responsibility put on would-be victims shoulders to not “look” or “behave” in a manner that would lead to their victimization.

Such was the case recently at Ramapo College in New Jersey, where a campus administrator informed students in a lecture about sexual violence that “. . .women need to watch their body language and that women should practice how they articulate their face [in a social setting] by practicing in the mirror.” What this administrator was saying, essentially, was that it is a young woman’s responsibility to ensure that her facial expression makes it perfectly clear that she does not wish to be raped.

If you’re HORRIFIED by the idea of an institution of higher learning promoting this idea as a supposedly sound preventative measure against sexual assault, you are not alone, my friend, Twitter was horrified, too. And when Twitter gets horrified, the result is more often than not a powerhouse of a hashtag. Enter #MyAntiRapeFace.

Smart and awesome women took to Twitter to mock the idea of an “anti-rape face.” Hilarious and insightful results below:

And then there were ladies who chose to use the faces of others to properly represent their deep displeasure:

Yes, the response to this hashtag’s call to arms has been straight-up clever. As funny as the range of responses have been, there’s a palpable undercurrent of rage running through this hashtag. And rightfully so. It’s disturbing and wrong to blame the victim of a sexual assault, and yet it happens all the time. Victims are picked to pieces. What were they wearing? Were they under the influence of any substances? What was their interaction with their attacker prior to their assault? And now, with the latest comments from a university’s authority figure, we have to add “What was the expression on their face?” to the list of insane reasons we blame victims instead of attackers.

Make no mistake, we live in a rape culture, and it’s a culture that teaches women that they must walk on tightropes and jump through flaming hoops to avoid being raped, when really we should be teaching men not to force themselves on women. Of course, victims can be men, of course women can be attackers. That said, when we talk about rape culture, what we’re talking about is a culture that encourages us to treat male attackers as a problem that can’t be solved, and female victims as women who must have made a mistake somewhere in their timeline or otherwise, as rape culture tells us over and over again, these women would not have become victims.

That’s why social movements like #MyAntiRapeFace are so important. We need to keep saying, over and over again, that we will not be a culture that tolerates blaming victims.

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