Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Keys in the Ignition

By Anytimeyoga @anytimeyoga

Note: This post discusses sexual assault and victim blaming.

[By User:Mattes (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

So. Every once in a while, I see this particular rape-to-theft analogy. (To be clear. The Tumblr user here is responding to the anonymous asker who made the comparison, not making the comparison themselves.) For those who can’t or don’t wish to click, the text in question reads:

Anonymous asked: Yea, I shouldn’t be blamed for my car being stolen when I leave the keys in the ignition with the door open

Here’s the thing —

If I do leave my keys in my car’s ignition — and the door open — and someone does steal it? That is still theft. That is still someone acting unlawfully to take what does not belong to them. That this person had to use a lesser amount of physical force than someone else might in order to commit the same crime does not negate that said person committed a crime.

And so, if I reported my stolen car to the police — keys in the ignition, door open, and all — I would expect them to investigate. And they probably would.

This has not been my experience with reporting sexual assault to the police. This has not been my experience with confiding sexual assault to (previously trusted) friends.

Moreover, a car cannot and does not have to give consent before someone — anyone — can drive it. It is an inanimate (well, aside from the internal combustion engine, which animates it) object, devoid of a will or autonomy of its own. I, on the contrary, am a person — fully as human, fully as willful, fully as deserving of autonomy as any person who would try to violate me.

By definition, no one can remove my consent from me — at least not without committing a violation and a felony. No one gets to “drive” me unless I am an informed, free, and active participant in the whole excursion.

Because if there are any keys to my ignition, they always, always belong to me.

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