Somerset Police caused a stir Sunday morning with a Facebook post meant to warn women about the dangers of it getting darker earlier, but instead had commenters calling the post “sexist” and “victim blaming.”

The post, which went up at 8:33 a.m. on October 16, had the caption “Tell all your friends and family” and featured a meme with tips about how to avoid running into trouble in the autumn evenings.

The meme, which has circulated around social media for a while now, starts with the line “Attention Ladies” before offering tips such as “Make sure to fill your gas tank before sunset,” “No ATM runs in the evening,” “Park in well-lit areas,” and “Pay attention to your surroundings” before ending with “Heads Up, Phones Down, Stay Safe.”

Some Found the Somerset Police Post “Sexist” and “Victim Blaming”

Melanie Leite wrote, “This honestly really bothers me. How about calling out men for victimizing women?”

She called the post “very condescending, sexist, and implies that if a woman is a victim, maybe she did something that put her in that position, i.e. victim blaming.”

“Women are not children needing to be supervised for basic safety,” she wrote. “I know the intention is in the right place, but I feel it’s a bit antiquated.”

Wendy Evitch Santos agreed with Leite’s take.

“This would be good advice if it was directed at everyone,” she wrote. “Directing it only to women is sexist and victim blaming. Please re-think this message.”

Ashley Rutkowski Chasse had a simple solution for eliminating the perception of sexism.

“Could have given the same message without the ‘Attention Ladies’ header,” she wrote.

Corrine Araujo said the post is an example of why police need more training and education on the topic.

“As a professional with my MS in Forensic Psychology (BS in Criminal Justice) who specializes in Trauma, Violence, Special Victims, etc. with in depth research in victimology and offenders, this is highly offensive and an example of a lack of an attempt to confront the root cause,” Corrine Araujo wrote. “Also, this further perpetuates that women should not engage in daily activities due to risks that aren’t being handled appropriately, because if they were, this post would not exist.”

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Other Women Didn’t See Anything Wrong With the Somerset Police Post

Some women commented that they didn’t see anything sexist in the post.

“As much as everyone wishes this wasn’t a reality, it is. As a woman raising a daughter, I HATE it too. But that doesn’t negate the statistics, the realities, the fact that the advice is sound,” wrote Marissa Russell. “I’m all about women being capable, powerful, and all the things we want in life. Teach your sons to be good humans, teach your daughters to be smart, vigilant and aware.”

“I appreciate your post. It is about being mindful and being proactive about your own safety,” wrote Amanda Fuller. “I would give this advice to my kids and my mother gave it to me and my brother, so it has nothing to do with female vs. male, it has to do with being vigilant about your safety and the unpredictable manners others can have.”

Jenn Lema Patullo simply wrote, “Thanks for the safety tips!”

Somerset Police Respond, Then Are Accused of “Doubling Down”

Somerset Police further tried to explain the need for the post to be worded the way it was.

“For all those who are offended by this post, remember this…criminals are opportunistic. They will seek opportunity and advantage by seeking out those that they ‘perceive’ as weaker. Unfortunately women fall into that category,” the department commented on the post. “If you have a daughter and are not giving her this type of advice, YOU are doing her a disservice.”

The department was then tagged in a number of responses from commenters.

“Unfortunate that you chose to double down on this message rather than just remove the ‘Attention Ladies’ header,” Chasse wrote. “Really changes my perspective on who you would blame if my daughter gets assaulted. Must be my fault as a parent or hers for going outside at night.”

“Also who’s perpetuating that perception with sexist posts?” Leite wrote. “Who’s doing a disservice?”

Shannon Toolin brought up a point that some of the women critical of the post had also pointed out.

“Why is there no post asking men to not assault women?” she wrote. “Who says that we don’t teach our daughters about this?”

Somerset Police Recently Reached a “Milestone” in Equality

On Friday afternoon, Somerset Police posted about a “milestone” the department reached on Wednesday, October 12.

“For the first time in our department’s history, we had two full-time female patrol officers patrolling separate beats on the same shift,” the department wrote. “We are not sure why it took this long, but we are happy to get to this point.”

The department also pointed out that there is a lack of female officers on police forces across the country.

“Nationwide, the average police department has 11 percent of its force comprised of female officers. Experts say we should be doing better,” it wrote. “There is currently an initiative called 30X30 which promotes a benchmark that police recruit classes reach 30 percent female by 2030.”

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