How not to (not to) spend Spring Break

It’s that time of year again–Spring Break time.
Spring academic recesses will break out across the nation. Some will stay home with family, or remain at school and study. Some will choose a public service alternative, or spend time with a domestic or international aid organization. Despite these attractive spring break options, countless people will still choose to go absolutely hog-wild writing articles on just how dangerous it is to party.
Many college publications have weighed in on Spring Break plans, and even J-WOWW offered sage advice. I may as well throw my hat in the ring– here are my “do’s” and “don’ts” of spring break advice lists:
DO recognize that as fees and tuition skyrocket nationwide, many students will remain on campuses to work extra hours to pay for school.
Not to worry, journalists– chances are, if you are a concerned parent, 54% of your offspring’s male peers and 51% of your offspring’s female peers will be working through spring break. 64% of female students and 57% of male students will even visit their parents over break.
And if you are a young college journalist writing advice articles on travel to Mexico, and therefore underemployed, you will likely also join those peers in working over spring break. Furthermore, although MTV’s seasonal “Spring Break” programming may suggest otherwise, costly trips are not a recession-proof market, and now that Jersey Shore and The Real World: DC have ended, many college students probably aren’t watching.
DON’T make glaring generalizations about Mexico, and by extension, about Mexicans.
After the State Department released a travel advisory about Mexican border towns, many colleges, including some of the Universities of California, sent out campus-wide notices “strongly [advising] against travel to Mexico during Spring Break.” Campuses cite violence in Ciudad Juarez and other border towns, as a result of drug trafficking, in their defense of the recommendation. Outside articles continue to warn against traveling to Mexico.
The most recent data on Ciudad Juarez’s murder rate confirms that it is the deadliest city in the world. But the characterization of the entirety of Mexico as a threat to all college-age students criminalizes the country, its citizens, and immigrants to the United States. As the U.S. continues with the construction of a wall with Mexico whose technology was purchased from the Israeli separation wall, and staunch anti-immigration activists will spend spring break on a porch with their guns pointed south, cultivating fear of Chican@/Latin@ people is a dangerous move.
In the same study, New Orleans was ranked the third most deadly city in the world, based on homicides. Where is the travel advisory for students who perform aid work in NOLA during Spring Break?


DON’T blame survivors of rape by offering tips to women to avoid “getting raped.”
Six rapes occurred in one week in Daytona Beach, FL, most of which involved alcohol and/or drugs. Logically, Police Chief Mike Chitwood advised:

“Women shouldn’t put themselves in the position to be victims. They should try stay in the company of friends and never leave with someone they just met.”

RAINN has a good list of spring break tips on sexual assault. But I think that Chitwood would do more good circulating Colleen Jameson’s great list of Sexual Assault Prevention Tips:

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!
1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.


Hopefully, these three simple tips will save thousands from making disastrous decisions in their yearly doling-out of spring break advice.

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24 Comments

  1. Lydia
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I have mixed feelings about the whole telling women “how not to get raped” thing. Colleen Jameson’s list makes great points and this society definitely has a problem with acting like rapists are just some mysterious force of nature that we must take precautions against like lightning storms. However, that being said, there ARE situations in which women are more vulnerable to rapists than they are in other situations. Does acknowledging that truth and talking about it always have to be victim-blaming? My mom frets about me walking home alone late at night in the city I live in. But if something actually happened to me, I highly doubt she’d be telling me it’s my fault for not taking a cab. When my sister started college, I told her to make sure she doesn’t take drinks from strangers at parties. But that doesn’t mean that I was going to blame her for anything that happened to her if she accepted a drugged drink from somebody. I was alerting her to a reality that might not have crossed her mind. Can’t we hold rapists accountable for their actions (and, by extension, our society accountable for normalizing them) and still give our daughters and sisters advice intended to keep them safe?

  2. Lydia
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I have mixed feelings about the whole telling women “how not to get raped” thing. Colleen Jameson’s list makes great points and this society definitely has a problem with acting like rapists are just some mysterious force of nature that we must take precautions against like lightning storms. However, that being said, there ARE situations in which women are more vulnerable to rapists than they are in other situations. Does acknowledging that truth and talking about it always have to be victim-blaming? My mom frets about me walking home alone late at night in the city I live in. But if something actually happened to me, I highly doubt she’d be telling me it’s my fault for not taking a cab. When my sister started college, I told her to make sure she doesn’t take drinks from strangers at parties. But that doesn’t mean that I was going to blame her for anything that happened to her if she accepted a drugged drink from somebody. I was alerting her to a reality that might not have crossed her mind. Can’t we hold rapists accountable for their actions (and, by extension, our society accountable for normalizing them) and still give our daughters and sisters advice intended to keep them safe?

  3. b
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely think it’s possible to let women know how to defend themselves AND send a message that it is not their fault that they have been assaulted. The fact that there are prevention tips for women out there is not the issue for me, it is that there are virtually no anti-rape tips out there for MEN. we send the message to society that EVERY woman is victim, but only the crazy random men you don’t know are the perpetrators without ever acknowledging that without education every man is a perpetrator too. I know that sounds extreme, but I think it’s important to realize that in our culture it is entirely possible for every man to be a rapist just as it is possible for every woman to be a rape victim. So my question is, why aren’t we educating EVERYONE about the possibility of perpetrating or being raped? We need equal airtime for how to prevent rape for men and for women.

  4. Dawn.
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    IMO it’s entirely possible to hold rapists accountable for their actions, hold society accountable for sustaining rape culture, and still give women advice. We can give that advice while also making it clear that no woman is to blame for her rape/assault and that no amount of “safety tips” can fully protect anyone from rape/assault.

  5. b
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely think it’s possible to let women know how to defend themselves AND send a message that it is not their fault that they have been assaulted. The fact that there are prevention tips for women out there is not the issue for me, it is that there are virtually no anti-rape tips out there for MEN. we send the message to society that EVERY woman is victim, but only the crazy random men you don’t know are the perpetrators without ever acknowledging that without education every man is a perpetrator too. I know that sounds extreme, but I think it’s important to realize that in our culture it is entirely possible for every man to be a rapist just as it is possible for every woman to be a rape victim. So my question is, why aren’t we educating EVERYONE about the possibility of perpetrating or being raped? We need equal airtime for how to prevent rape for men and for women.

  6. cattrack2
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    “But the characterization of the entirety of Mexico as a threat to all college-age students criminalizes the country, its citizens, and immigrants to the United States.”
    No one is criminalizing the entirety of Mexico. Even heretofore safe tourist spots like Acapulco have seen sharp escalations in drug related violence ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7061705.ece ). Its high time Americans recognize that Mexico is a country & not just some back yard resort for our leisure class.
    Over 15,000 Mexicans have died since Calderon started focusing on taking down drug cartels. While its often overlooked here, that’s more than double the deaths the US has suffered in that same time frame. To call this a crisis is not an overstatement.

  7. b
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely think it’s possible to let women know how to defend themselves AND send a message that it is not their fault that they have been assaulted. The fact that there are prevention tips for women out there is not the issue for me, it is that there are virtually no anti-rape tips out there for MEN. we send the message to society that EVERY woman is victim, but only the crazy random men you don’t know are the perpetrators without ever acknowledging that without education every man is a perpetrator too. I know that sounds extreme, but I think it’s important to realize that in our culture it is entirely possible for every man to be a rapist just as it is possible for every woman to be a rape victim. So my question is, why aren’t we educating EVERYONE about the possibility of perpetrating or being raped? We need equal airtime for how to prevent rape for men and for women.

  8. b
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely think it’s possible to let women know how to defend themselves AND send a message that it is not their fault that they have been assaulted. The fact that there are prevention tips for women out there is not the issue for me, it is that there are virtually no anti-rape tips out there for MEN. we send the message to society that EVERY woman is victim, but only the crazy random men you don’t know are the perpetrators without ever acknowledging that without education every man is a perpetrator too. I know that sounds extreme, but I think it’s important to realize that in our culture it is entirely possible for every man to be a rapist just as it is possible for every woman to be a rape victim. So my question is, why aren’t we educating EVERYONE about the possibility of perpetrating or being raped? We need equal airtime for how to prevent rape for men and for women.

  9. Lydia
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I agree. There should be a lot more discussion of how rape actually happens, who rapists actually are, and how certain widely accepted and promoted attitudes in our society encourage rape and sexual violence in general. But I was responding directly to the post and the “don’t blame survivors of rape by offering tips to women to avoid getting raped.” I don’t see how offering advice to women about certain dangers automatically equates to blaming survivors of rape. Nor do I find anything particularly offensive about the particular advice cited, about staying with friends and not leaving with somebody you just met.” How exactly does saying that mean you’re victim-blaming? I can totally get behind having a problem with the LACK of honest and frank discussion about sexual violence and how it really happens but not with the PRESENCE of discussion about risks that women unfortunately face in certain situations. I don’t think the automatic implication of this advice is that women who were raped after leaving their groups of friends or going off with someone they didn’t know well are to be blamed because they did these things. And frankly the prevalence of the whole “maniac in the bushes” myth is all the more reason to tell young women these things. Maybe not every girl straight out of high school would necessarily realize that there are potential dangers in large groups like spring break parties, or that the nice, polite guy offering her a drink might have sinister motives. Maybe she thinks that there’s no reason to have one’s guard up as long as you’re not in a dark alley. I will keep on advocating for a more honest discussion of sexual violence in our society but I think I can do that without accusing everyone who offers women safety tips of victim-blaming.

  10. Lydia
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I agree. There should be a lot more discussion of how rape actually happens, who rapists actually are, and how certain widely accepted and promoted attitudes in our society encourage rape and sexual violence in general. But I was responding directly to the post and the “don’t blame survivors of rape by offering tips to women to avoid getting raped.” I don’t see how offering advice to women about certain dangers automatically equates to blaming survivors of rape. Nor do I find anything particularly offensive about the particular advice cited, about staying with friends and not leaving with somebody you just met.” How exactly does saying that mean you’re victim-blaming? I can totally get behind having a problem with the LACK of honest and frank discussion about sexual violence and how it really happens but not with the PRESENCE of discussion about risks that women unfortunately face in certain situations. I don’t think the automatic implication of this advice is that women who were raped after leaving their groups of friends or going off with someone they didn’t know well are to be blamed because they did these things. And frankly the prevalence of the whole “maniac in the bushes” myth is all the more reason to tell young women these things. Maybe not every girl straight out of high school would necessarily realize that there are potential dangers in large groups like spring break parties, or that the nice, polite guy offering her a drink might have sinister motives. Maybe she thinks that there’s no reason to have one’s guard up as long as you’re not in a dark alley. I will keep on advocating for a more honest discussion of sexual violence in our society but I think I can do that without accusing everyone who offers women safety tips of victim-blaming.

  11. Lydia
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I agree. There should be a lot more discussion of how rape actually happens, who rapists actually are, and how certain widely accepted and promoted attitudes in our society encourage rape and sexual violence in general. But I was responding directly to the post and the “don’t blame survivors of rape by offering tips to women to avoid getting raped.” I don’t see how offering advice to women about certain dangers automatically equates to blaming survivors of rape. Nor do I find anything particularly offensive about the particular advice cited, about staying with friends and not leaving with somebody you just met.” How exactly does saying that mean you’re victim-blaming? I can totally get behind having a problem with the LACK of honest and frank discussion about sexual violence and how it really happens but not with the PRESENCE of discussion about risks that women unfortunately face in certain situations. I don’t think the automatic implication of this advice is that women who were raped after leaving their groups of friends or going off with someone they didn’t know well are to be blamed because they did these things. And frankly the prevalence of the whole “maniac in the bushes” myth is all the more reason to tell young women these things. Maybe not every girl straight out of high school would necessarily realize that there are potential dangers in large groups like spring break parties, or that the nice, polite guy offering her a drink might have sinister motives. Maybe she thinks that there’s no reason to have one’s guard up as long as you’re not in a dark alley. I will keep on advocating for a more honest discussion of sexual violence in our society but I think I can do that without accusing everyone who offers women safety tips of victim-blaming.

  12. Comrade Kevin
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s tough to know how to strike a balance between cavalierly presuming that women are not educated enough to know how to avoid being the victim of sexual assault and genuinely educating those who are totally unaware and need some guidelines.
    As always, rules aren’t always a perfect fit.

  13. supremepizza
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    There is such a thing as evil. I believe that as long as we have people, we will have murderers and thieves. Unfortunately, we will also have rapists.
    We’re fond here of locating the root causes of problems in society. In this case that lets individuals off the hook. No one has to be educated that its wrong to slip a woman a roofie. Rapists know what they’re doing is wrong. Its not about education, its about enforcement. So from where I sit educating rapists about rape is about as likely to be effective as educating murderers about murder.

  14. Lydia
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I agree. There should be a lot more discussion of how rape actually happens, who rapists actually are, and how certain widely accepted and promoted attitudes in our society encourage rape and sexual violence in general. But I was responding directly to the post and the “don’t blame survivors of rape by offering tips to women to avoid getting raped.” I don’t see how offering advice to women about certain dangers automatically equates to blaming survivors of rape. Nor do I find anything particularly offensive about the particular advice cited, about staying with friends and not leaving with somebody you just met.” How exactly does saying that mean you’re victim-blaming? I can totally get behind having a problem with the LACK of honest and frank discussion about sexual violence and how it really happens but not with the PRESENCE of discussion about risks that women unfortunately face in certain situations. I don’t think the automatic implication of this advice is that women who were raped after leaving their groups of friends or going off with someone they didn’t know well are to be blamed because they did these things. And frankly the prevalence of the whole “maniac in the bushes” myth is all the more reason to tell young women these things. Maybe not every girl straight out of high school would necessarily realize that there are potential dangers in large groups like spring break parties, or that the nice, polite guy offering her a drink might have sinister motives. Maybe she thinks that there’s no reason to have one’s guard up as long as you’re not in a dark alley. I will keep on advocating for a more honest discussion of sexual violence in our society but I think I can do that without accusing everyone who offers women safety tips of victim-blaming.

  15. EAMD
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    While yes, there are perpetrators who know what they do is called “rape” and choose to do it anyway, there are an astonishing number of perpetrators who don’t define (themselves) having sex with someone without consent with terms like “rape” or “assault”.
    Check out David Lisak’s research, which has focused for years on college sexual assault and interpersonal violence. I strongly disagree with the notion that educating would-be rapists and/or rapists about rape is an exercise in futility.

  16. supremepizza
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    There is such a thing as evil. I believe that as long as we have people, we will have murderers and thieves. Unfortunately, we will also have rapists.
    We’re fond here of locating the root causes of problems in society. In this case that lets individuals off the hook. No one has to be educated that its wrong to slip a woman a roofie. Rapists know what they’re doing is wrong. Its not about education, its about enforcement. So from where I sit educating rapists about rape is about as likely to be effective as educating murderers about murder.

  17. supremepizza
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read his work & its made me more skeptical than ever. He asks people questions like, “Would you have sex with an unconscious woman?” and even though the men would say yes, they don’t self-identify as rapists. This kind of reasoning (or lack of it) only proves the lengths to which people will go to justify their actions. Most of Lisak’s research is not around the “gray areas” of consent, but about people going through extensive mental gyrations to avoid labeling their behavior as rape. This is just pretzel making.
    Heck, for that matter, people who kill their wives say they were just “saving” their family. Criminals will do anything to justify misbehavior.
    Other criminal behavior is likewise justified. I once had a friend with a business in a high crime neighborhood. He was robbed. When talking it over with one of the ladies in the neighborhood, she responded by saying, “Well he was just doing what he needed to do to get by.” No doubt he was…in his mind.

  18. cattrack2
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, supposed to read: “While its often overlooked here, that’s more than double the deaths the US has suffered in Iraq & Afghanistan during that same time frame.

  19. Honeybee
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    You make an excellent point.
    I think it’s a bad strategy to focus only on educating rapists. Fact is, even if society viewed rape for what it truly is – there would still be rapists.
    Murder is a good example. Murder is universally hated by EVERYONE. Every society considers murder a crime and has harsh punishments for it. You won’t find a single person who doesn’t think murder is terrible and wrong and deserving of harsh punishment. Yet despite the fact that society understands how wrong it is people are murdered everyday.
    It is the same with rape. Although I do think there is educating to be done, and that education will reduce the number of rapes, I don’t believe for a second it will completely erase rape. Rape will ALWAYS happen for the same reason murder will ALWAYS happen. So while absolutely we must educate society we must also recognize that rape is a part of life and take steps to protect ourselves where reasonable. (While of course still blaming the true culprit and not the victim).

  20. Sex Toy James
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Where in our public education are we all taught what is and isn’t consent? If it isn’t taught and reinforced then you’ve got drunk horny motivations running up against what? Rape is treated as second only murder in terms of it’s severity as a crime, and frankly I think that murder is much easier to justify. People aren’t likely to view themselves as rapists, especially if they aren’t drugging or assaulting someone.
    Colleen Jameson’s list is all about sexual assault, and it bugs me a lot. First, most men won’t sexually assualt anyone or think about it. Still it treats men like they have to be told not to jump someone in an elevator, which is hardly engaging the audience that it purports to aim at. It further reinforces the idea that rape is committed by sexual predators. Frankly, anyone who is going to assault someone won’t be educated out of it. I think that all of the cases that you can prevent with education are those where some guy got some girl back to his room and she’s passed out, too intoxicated to be intelligable, or saying no in an unconvincing manner. You need to educate about those situations. You need that guy who’s putting moves on some drunk chick who invited him back to her place, and was expressing interest in him before, but is now too drunk to clearly respond to his advances to go “Holy crap, this could be rape, and I could ruin my life. I need to get out of here now.” I think that any messages to men need to be clearly drawing the lines of consent, and telling them how to look after their female friends.

  21. Brittany-Ann
    Posted March 20, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Unlike murder, though, there are many people who do not know what rape is. Many think that rape is only a stranger jumping out of the bushes. Likewise with sexual assault.

  22. Ms. Junior
    Posted March 21, 2010 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    b posted, “we send the message to society that EVERY woman is victim, but only the crazy random men you don’t know are the perpetrators without ever acknowledging that without education every man is a perpetrator too. I know that sounds extreme, but I think it’s important to realize that in our culture it is entirely possible for every man to be a rapist just as it is possible for every woman to be a rape victim.” Emphasis mine. What about all the women who are rapists and all the men who are rape victims? On this blog alone, there have been several posts about people not taking male rape victims seriously, or being blissfully ignorant of the fact that what that person did to that man was rape. For example, this one about Lil Wayne: http://www.feministing.com/archives/014813.html
    By the way, A WOMAN RAPED HIM! (You yelled at us with all caps, so I’m yelling back.) There is a very damaging and false stereotype that all men want sex all the time. And when men are raped by women, (not by other men, because this is seen to be especially heinous) the men are portrayed as “getting lucky.” And I really can’t believe that you said that in their natural state (“without education”) all men are rapists. What you said is not only sexist, it is perpetuating another stereotype that feminists are man-haters. The presence of a penis, or lack thereof, does not change the ability of someone to rape. I know several women who have been raped by other women. I myself have been sexually assaulted by a woman. I was also raped by a man, but he did not use his penis, and I looked up the definition, and what he did to me is legally defined as rape. The sexism behind the stereotype that you are perpetuating, that only men can be rapists and that only women can be rape victims, is actually to blame for those men and women who rape but don’t realize that what they did was rape. The root of this problem is the sexist and dangerous stereotype that men are supposed to actively seek sex and are entitled to sex, and that women are passive, and are just supposed to be lying there during sex. This leads to the assumption of the rapist that the absence of a “no” equals consent.

  23. nikki#2
    Posted March 21, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    There is a difference between warning women of potentially risky behavior and slut shaming.

  24. Toongrrl
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank God for Pismo Beach and San Diego (my aunt and uncle live there!)

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