On Wednesday a young woman from Austin, Texas was standing at a bus stop. While she waited for the school bus a man approached her from behind and grabbed her. When the young woman screamed the man ran away. The young woman's school then sent a letter home to parents encouraging them to speak to their children about safe practices including walking in groups, not speaking to strangers and informing adults if a stranger approaches.
Now I am all for telling young people to be aware of their surroundings and encouraging them to be safe. What bothers me about the advice in the school's letter is that it implies the young woman was somehow to blame for the man assaulting her. If only she hadn't been standing at that bus stop alone. If only she had done this, if only she had done that, this would never have happened to her.
We need to stop blaming women for what men choose to do. The conversation really needs to be about how we can teach men to respect women and their bodily autonomy. We need to be encouraging men to take responsibility for their actions rather than blaming women for standing at a bus stop alone.