What is is about the penis that makes it so powerful, mere men can't be expected to control it? According to the popular imagination, one glance at a woman wearing a short skirt; and/or inebriated after one-too-many rum and cokes; and/or walking on her own in a secluded area; and/or lying in a bed; and/or any number of other scenarios supposedly suggesting sexual availability....and the penis turns into an unstoppable penetrative missile. Its hapless owner can do nothing to prevent himself from being launched full-tilt into the woman who was unlucky enough to catch his eye.
Written like that, the idea seems absurd. Yet it's an idea that holds sway among hoards of the population when they believe something a rape victim did somehow made her complicit in her attack. She wore revealing clothes. She was drunk. She was unguarded. She was in a bed. My goodness, she was easy pickings for any passing penis. Men couldn't possibly be expected to resist the temptation of having sex with her in those circumstances, could they?
Er, yes they could. Countless numbers of men seem to manage it just fine. Penis and testosterone together may be a strong combination, but believe it or not, they can be efficiently overridden by that other redoubtable human organ, the brain. But what do I know, I'm only a woman? Luckily for me, a man called Martin Robbins has recently made the exact same point when examining the excuses given by philandering husbands for their adultery. Dear oh dear, those men's penises simply wouldn't let them have a say in the matter, poor things... Well, Martin Robbins doesn't buy that and neither do I.
And neither should you. Especially when it comes to rape. No man is so risibly weak he can't prevent himself from assaulting a woman because his sexual organs happened to be aroused at the time. It's an excuse that should be treated with the contempt it deserves. What terrible thing would happen if a man actually refused to allow himself to be penis-led? Would his nether regions spontaneously combust or something?
The hospitals would be overcrowded with poor males seeking attention for serious genital burns if that were the case. Seeing as they're not - and there doesn't seem to be any other medical evidence of harm to those who can exercise some command over their members, let's assume that all men - even rapists - actually make conscious decisions regarding the insertion of their penises into other human beings.
With this in mind, a public service announcement offering advice on how to avoid rape doesn't lecture women on what they should wear, where they should go or how they should behave, no. Instead, it appeals to the owners of both the penises and the brains. And the message is very simple:
"Don't rape her."