On Helmets and Rape


It occurs to me that telling cyclists to wear a helmet if they wish to avoid injury in collisions with motor vehicles is exactly like telling women that they shouldn’t wear ‘sluttish’ clothing if they don’t want to be attacked by rapists.
Blaming the victims.

4 Responses to “On Helmets and Rape”

  1. Lee says:

    bloody hell, you blogged!

  2. zero says:

    bloody hell, you noticed!

  3. TMC says:

    Weirdly, I’ve been thinking along similar lines lately. The other day I found myself arguing that telling cyclists they should wear helmets to avoid brain damage in case they get knocked off is a bit like telling people to carry condoms so they can avoid contracting HIV if they get raped, as though that’s all that really matters, and you can pretty much just lie back and enjoy being raped if you know you’re not going to get HIV.

    Well, whoop-de-doo, you’ve avoided brain damage. You’ve still been knocked off your bike, and that’s an incredibly upsetting, painful, frightening experience. You might have broken bones. They might take months to heal, or indeed, never heal properly. You might have to go through several painful operations to get yourself fixed (a friend of mine did). You might be permanently scarred. You might lose the use of one or more of your limbs. You might be so mentally traumatized that you aren’t able to ride your bike again. This mental trauma might lead to a nervous breakdown, and might ruin your life, career, or marriage. You might have been knocked off deliberately, or subsequently attacked by the driver. You might have to go through a long-drawn-out court case or appeal. You might have been dragged under the wheels of an HGV and had your ribcage crushed. You might well be dead.

    But at least you’ve avoided brain damage.

    I don’t think people realize, when they start the ‘you-should-wear-a-helmet’ argument, that I spend a high proportion of my time on the bike thinking very consciously about how not to fall off in the first place.
    (Sorry, this rant is on the tip of my tongue at the moment.)

  4. Kim says:

    Ah yes the Taliban approach to road safety, it really is time we ditched it…