Have you ever found yourself walking down some steps and thinking, “Man, these steps sure are awkwardly spaced and uncomfortable”?
If so, you’re probably a rapist or something.
At least that’s the story at Tufts University, where a recent student newspaper article alluded to a set of “rape steps” placed down a gently sloping hill on campus. Apparently the admissions officers at Tufts tell prospective students that the steps were designed specifically to help female students escape male attackers.
Admissions officers say that the steps were designed for women, and the theory goes that a woman should be able to climb the steps faster than a male attacker. Even as a female, I don’t understand how these awkwardly long yet short steps are supposed to rescue me from impending doom. I guess that feminine stride ain’t no stride-o-mine.
There is obviously a strong possibility that the steps in question are merely awkward, and that the “rape steps” legend simply sprung up around them. In my student days at the Gamaliel Painter Academy of Alchemy and Sledding, there were several fanciful explanations for otherwise uninteresting landscape quirks. The music center was built backwards! The library is sinking into the earth on account of the weight of the books! You’ve been placed on academic probation!
OK that last one was true. But in my defense, the steps down to the library are really awkward.
Engineering psychology and the Rape Steps [Tufts Daily]