Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Victim Blaming

This is a short post. Hopefully someone who disagrees with me will pop in and answer this question I have.

How does anyone equate this:
"Wearing provocative/slutty clothing while alone in a bad part of town is an irresponsible thing for women to do."
with this:
"It is OK to rape women who are wearing slutty clothing while alone in a bad part of town."

That's it. Simple question.

I understand it's easy to make a similar jump if you assume bad intent on the part of the original proclaimers.

I assume good faith. When people say that women shouldn't wear slutty clothes, they're grasping at straws trying to change SOMETHING that will prevent it from happening again. The rapist, the one who really deserves the blame, has already disappeared into the night. The only person left is the victim. It's wrong that it works this way - and we should try to discourage it.

And the way to discourage it ISN'T by screaming "VICTIM-BLAMER!" at the person offering the offensive advice. I should know - I was once in that position.

What we should do is to calmly and firmly inform them that clothing has nothing to do with if a woman is victimized like that. It's just not an issue.

"Common sense" tells us that the rich people hopping around in their Armani suits and British coupes should be the biggest victims of robbery and carjacking. But alas, it is not the case. Poor folks are most often stolen from.

I want to admit, up front, that I had a problem with "victim blaming" for most of my life. I used to blame the victim. Until the day my car got "broken" into and my GPS unit and CDs were stolen. I complained on Facebook and was blamed for leaving my car unlocked. When I talked to the police they actually chuckled at me when I admitted I had left my car door unlocked. (It wasn't on purpose, I had arms full of groceries and forgot to go back out to lock the car after bringing them in.)

Eventually I realized victim-blaming is in no way limited to rape.

But just a few days ago I found the cure to victim-blaming. It was called "research." In all my life, no one ever took the time to show the evidence that what women wear is not correlated to their chances of sexual assault. But no, they decided to simply call me a victim-blamer and assume bad faith rather than uninformed ignorance. Pity for them and me. But mostly them.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be very careful assuming this research
    proves that clothing has nothing to do with sexual assault. I began to research this myself about a month ago, and I started finding some interesting studies about clothing and the advertising industry, but alas, real life intervened and I haven't followed up on it. I'll let you know what I find, but I'm skeptical that clothing makes no difference. After all, clothing is often designed to send a message.

    Reasonable precautions to avoid sexual assault do exist. Not following them doesn't mean one "deserves" to be assaulted but at the same time it does mean that one is not very wise.