If you suggest even commonsense ideas to help women — and men — protect themselves from rape and sexual assault, you’re accused of “victim-blaming.”

But why?

Police departments across the country provide tips to help prevent a whole host of crimes. The DC police department offers guides to reduce the risk of burglary and theft, sexual assault and identity theft. Are they engaged in victim-blaming? Or are they providing information that can keep you safe?

The tips include things like “Be aware of your surroundings,” “Don’t let alcohol or other drugs cloud your judgment” and “Have your key ready before you reach the door” — all things that can protect a person from multiple types of crimes.

But for some reason, to suggest to women — especially on college campuses — those basic, common-sense precautions amount to an attempt to somehow blame the victims for getting raped or sexually assaulted.

Take the recent invention of nail polish that changes color if it touches date-rape drugs like GHB, Rohypnol or Xanax. Sounds like a simple, discreet way to make sure nothing has been slipped into your drink, right?

Wrong, that’s victim-blaming.

In an article for ThinkProgress, Tara Culp-Ressler says that women have to “work hard to prevent themselves from becoming the victims of sexual assault.” She interviewed several anti-rape activists who agreed.

Tracey Vitchers of Students Active for Ending Rape told Culp-Ressler that reducing sexual violence is “a really good thing,” but people need to question “why we keep placing the responsibility for preventing sexual assault on young women.”

Another activist, Rebecca Nagle, said that doing things like watching her drink or not walking alone at night means that “rape isn’t just controlling me while I’m actually being assaulted — it controls me 24/7 because it limits my behavior.” She added that she doesn’t want to test her drink with the nail polish because “[t]hat’s not the world I want to live in.”

But that is the world we live in, as they keep reminding everyone. There are terrible people, and all the awareness in the world won’t stop them from doing terrible things. We can’t control the bad people, so it might make sense to protect ourselves from them.

Women — and men — avoid walking alone at night, not just to avoid rape but also to avoid robbery or assault.

Our behavior is limited by all kinds of different potential disasters. We lock our bikes. We think twice about giving credit card information to certain websites in order to avoid identity theft. We lock our cars in parking lots to avoid theft, and we’re mindful (or should be) of how much we drink to avoid losing items, getting injured or damaging our livers.

It is victim-blaming to say someone “deserved” to get raped if they didn’t follow the prevention tips. But it’s not victim-blaming to suggest that people to protect oneself from the bad people in the world.

The argument that simple rape-prevention measures amount to "victim-blaming" puts women at greater risk. The activists urging people not to take common-sense measures because that’s not how the world is supposed to work are conveying a far more dangerous message than those pointing out that it's dangerous to walk alone at night.