I said this a long time ago, and I’m saying it again – not only is rape about a rapist having control, but victim blaming is about controlling the female population: what better way to cajole women into standards of purity, decency, “learning how to behave” and sobriety than dangle the threat of “Well, if you don’t, you’ll surely invite rape upon yourselves?”
March 19, 2013
Over the weekend, two teenage boys who were popular football players from Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty of raping a teenage girl last summer at a party. In a culture that portrays rapists as scary men in dark alleyways, the boys and many of their friends did not identify what happened as rape and even photographed and spread images of the crime on social media.
What most people will remember is that when [Audrie Pott] was 15, three of her “friends” allegedly raped her at a party. And that should be the most horrifying part of this story, but in the days following the alleged assault, photos were circulated, one of which showed that someone had written “[Name] was here” on Audrie’s body. Classmates labeled her a “slut,” and she became the target of bullying in school and online. Eight days after the alleged attack, Audrie killed herself.
In America, the Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin has claimed that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy, saying that the female body has ways “to shut that thing down”. Considering this year’s rash of high-profile incidents, Ms Diamandopoulos says: “As we succeed in raising the issues of rape and abuse directed at women and girls, we are meeting a backlash of sexism.”
This article was written in 2012 when Akin's comments was a source of embarrassments for many Republicans. The idea is that "legitimate rape" occurs when women truly haven't given consent, and therefore the female body prevents pregnancy from occurring. "Illegitimate rape" occurs when women have given consent but claim they haven't. This is, shockingly, completely untrue.
In the first quarter of 2013, the number of rape cases in Hong Kong have increased a startling 60 percent. In response to this dramatic increase Hong Kong Security Secretary said the following:
Some of these cases…involved the victims being raped after drinking quite a lot of alcohol. So I would appeal that young ladies should not drink too much.
A common belief in victim blaming is that in most cases of rape, the victim is inebriated the night of and then regrets the decisions made the morning after. Therefore they call rape. This puts the responsibility on the victims to not get raped rather on the rapist to not rape. Though illogical, it is unfortunately very common, especially in America's hookup culture.
The conclusion is “Ladies, if you dress provocatively, you are going to be raped.” The assumption that goes unnoticed here, however, is that the mindset of the men around her is “If she’s dressed like that, then I have to rape her.” It assumes that a man’s baseline reaction when seeing a woman is “I have to have sex with her” and that the only defense against that is to dress conservatively.
This article is a reminder that victim blaming is not only offensive to women. It is also offensive to men because it implies that all men will rape unless women take the proper precautions, and that is simply not true. Blame should not be directed to any generalized group of people, only the individuals directly responsible for the act, man or woman.
And one from overseas – the incredibly well known Slutwalk movement was sparked into being after a police officer from Toronto, Canada, suggested that to avoid victimisation “women should avoid dressing like sluts”. He clearly managed to nail down a lot of the societal issues that contribute to women’s harassment and assault with that one (*sarcasm*). You can read about it over on the Slutwalk Toronto website.
For example, at first-year orientations at colleges across the country, women are taught about how to avoid putting themselves in a dangerous situation, the risks of alcohol and how to look out for friends. Orientation workshops telling men that rape and sexual assault will not be tolerated on campus and how to ask for consent are practically nonexistent.
An extensive report by the Centers for Disease Control in 2010 found that one in five women reports having been the victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. Any serious of discussion of rape and sexual assault today has to address why they take place so widely--and the multiple ways in which sexual assault survivors are re-victimized.
Victim blaming is a term used when the victim of a crime is blamed for what happened to them. It is a term that can be used in many different contexts (a common one is victims of theft), but is most often used in association with cases of sexual assault, harassment, or rape.