Oklahoma Highway Patrolman: "Follow the Law" and You Won't Get Raped

Raw Story reports that Oklahoma State Highway Patrol Caption George Brown had some interesting (meaning insensitive, maddening, and ludicrous) advice when he gave an interview with local news affiliate KJRH last week. The interview was set up to give women "tips" on how they can stay safe during a traffic stop, in response to the three current investigations of Oklahoma law enforcement officials sexually assaulting women while on the job.

Capt. Brown's "best tip" for women to avoid being sexually assaulted by cops is by "follow[ing] the law in the first place, so you don't get pulled over."

There is so much wrong with this statement. First, this is the same victim-blaming, rape-culture-perpetuating "advice" we have heard again and again. In the same way that women are told not to wear short skirts or stay out too late, Capt. George Brown is basically telling us, "Hey, if you do not want to be raped, don't speed or roll through that stop sign." Instead of addressing the fact that these men are using their power as cops to manipulate, coerce, and sexually abuse women, he makes them liable for their own sexual assaults.

He equates the "criminality" of breaking routine traffic laws with the insidiousness of committing sexual violence against women. These are not the same thing, in any way. And let us not forget the way that Black bodies are often criminalized and Black women are sexually objectified in America. For example, Daniel Holtzclaw specifically targeted Black women who had a history of drug abuse and prostitution, whether or not they had committed a crime at the time he stopped them.

When are we going to finally hold men accountable for their violence against women, instead of asking women to prevent their own assaults?

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Michelle Denise Jackson is a writer, storyteller, performer, and teaching artist from Southern California. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.

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