Dana Loesch is no stranger to controversy. As one of the public faces of the NRA, she’s a favorite target of people who find the possession of firearms to be icky. Her recent video regarding domestic abusers and rapists is no exception to this. She informs such people that many women these days are learning to shoot well and are carrying firearms, with the suggestion that if they attack armed women, their life expectancy just got shorter.
I don’t know if anyone’s done a poll on the question, but I suspect that rapists would be even less popular than Congress in surveys of public opinion. It would be a challenging exercise to create empathy on the part of most Americans for any person who violates another’s body to gratify his own need to feel powerful.
But if I’ve learned anything about my fellow human beings over the years, it’s that calling something impossible is a bad way to bet. This is illustrated in the present case by an article by Alexandra Svokos in response to Loesch’s video, titled, “This Bizarre New NRA Ad Encourages Women To Murder Rapists And Abusers.”
Yes, the word there is murder. The term is generally reserved for an intentional and unlawful act of killing. Figuratively, we can extend “murder” to acts committed by a person through negligence that a rational person could have expected would lead to death—drunk driving that ends in a fatal crash, for example. But self-defense is typically understood to be a different category altogether.
The use of “murder” here isn’t, however, the strangest assertion being made. What is worse is the interpretation that Svokos puts to the concept of empowerment:
Real empowerment for me looks like men who are empowered to know they don’t need to defend their masculinity and assert their power through violence. It looks like men who understand consent. It looks like men who honor and value both my safety and the safety of other women.
Notice the problem? How words like feminism and empowerment are interpreted varies widely, depending on whom we ask, but it’s a strange idea to hear that a women’s rights and autonomy should be subject to the agreement of men. But that’s exactly what Svokos is saying here.
In a civilized society, of course we expect people to use persuasion instead of force. By definition, though, rapists and abusers are not civilized. They do not wait for or even seek consent. What they do is use opportunity and physical strength to compel submission. These are not the kind who can be reasoned with. It’s a fine thing to spread the word that forcing sex on someone who isn’t willing is a violation of rights, but that message is of little utility when facing an attacker who surely has heard the public service announcements and the like and simply doesn’t care.
Loesch said that women are increasingly exercising their right to meet violence, including sexual violence, with sufficient force to stop the attack. By contrast, Svokos is telling women that their best choice is to say to men, “please don’t hurt me.” Given the choice, all the women I know would prefer to be in the company of people who respect the rights of all. But as long as there are some among us who feel entitled to commit acts of sexual violence, real empowerment includes the ability to stop these attacks.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.