One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.~Eleanor Roosevelt

The story of missing (and probably dead) University of Virginia student Hannah Graham is an increasingly familiar indictment of our current fantasyland culture: Young woman goes out dressed to attract attention, attracts the wrong kind of attention, goes missing for days or weeks, then turns up in some remote area having been sexually assaulted and murdered. Heartbroken families are left to grieve and hope for some sort of justice. The rest of society expresses outrage at the loss of a promising life, yet refuses to talk about anything that might genuinely prevent such horrors in the future.

At what point are we going to start telling ourselves, and consequently our young, what was common sense in every age before 1960? All choices have consequences, and it doesn’t matter if they’re not “fair” or what someone “should” be able to do. We do not live in a world in which everything is fair or should’s have any relevance whatsoever.Until the Great Divorce from Reality,“Nature, red in tooth and claw” was clearly understood to apply to every facet of life. Now, feminists howl that a woman should be able to march naked anywhere she chooses without a man noticing (in feminism’s ongoing effort to emasculate men, the rule is men are only allowed to notice women when those women want to be noticed). Is it any surprise that a young woman thinks that wearing half a shirt and drinking until she can’t walk is acceptable behavior and that nothing bad will happen to her because of some notion of should?

If a man walked down a city street at midnight with $100 bills pinned all over his suit, would anyone be surprised if he were mugged? Not only would the first question be, “What on earth did he think was going to happen?!” but plenty would say he asked for it, that this is what happens when you behave in ways that predictably attract those who are unbound by decency and respect for the law (prisons exist because amidst all the denial and excuse-making, there is a vague recognition that not everyone behaves as he should). Yet when a woman behaves as though the world is safe and cozy and well-intentioned, well, she should be able to do anything she wants and we should just teach men not to be rapists and murderers (according to every brain-dead female on Twitter). Why do we have such a lower standard for women to understand basic rationality?

Did Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington, and similar young women deserve their fates? Does it really matter? They met them, and others will meet identical fates if we don’t grow up and face the world as it is, not as we wish it were. This is a culture of children crying “It’s not fair!” and thinking that somehow matters. The simple fact is, some choices put a person at greater risk than others, and if a simple statement of that fact is “blaming the victim,” then we need to do a whole lot more victim-blaming in hopes of avoiding more victim-creating.

Good people can make bad choices, but no one can really claim to be a good parent or a good friend if they are unwilling to confront those choices that are so obviously foolish, risky, and lacking in self-respect. Such misguided loyalty contributes to tragedy. So listen up, girls: The world can be a very dangerous place, and it doesn’t bend to conform to your ideas about what it should be. Grow up, wise up, and cover up. Determine that you will not put yourselves into situations that lead to your diminishment and possible demise. Self-respect means you make great demands of yourself, and that you are willing to behave differently from those who are asking less of themselves, even if they are your friends. Do not look to other people to take care of you—that’s your job. Do it as though your life depends on it.

~Shyla Lefever