Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm not blaming the victim, but...

...I'm blaming the victim. Here's a purportedly feminist website, where a man writes how a

recent article in the sidebar about women who blame women for being raped. Shock was expressed that an astounding 20% of women respondents seemed to think that “if they went back to the assailant’s house”, and “that dancing provocatively, flirtatious behaviour, or wearing revealing clothing made them partly to blame.” Even more shocking, “Another behavior meriting culpability, according to nearly three quarters of lady respondents, is willingly climbing into bed with the eventual attacker.” The article goes on to explain how women are indoctrinated to believe it’s their job to protect against getting raped, and consequently they blame the victim, and the cycle perpetuates.

Shocking, I suppose, but not surprising. "Blaming the victim" is human psychology. I think it's a way of comforting ourselves. It's a way of telling ourselves that the universe isn't random and scary, it only hurts people who do something wrong. Don't do something wrong, and you'll be safe. Nothing bad will happen to you if you're careful. It's not true, of course. Bad things can happen to anyone, at any time. But it's comforting to believe otherwise, and "blaming the victim" helps us do that.

Anyway, the author of the post says the right things, in places. He says, for example, "The fault for perpetrating a crime such as rape is always the fault of the perpetrator... and people shouldn’t be withholding sympathy from the victims" and "I don’t believe any woman under any circumstance deserves to be raped or that it is ever her fault." So far, so good.

But then he goes on to say that "something in the article’s attitude makes me uneasy." Why? Because "in some cases the woman is guilty of being a tease, a slut, or at the very least, an idiot, and that often is her fault." That's not to say that "she is at fault for getting raped. She’s merely at fault for being a tease, a slut, or an idiot," but such women are "minimizing the responsibility we have towards one another."

Which caused them to be raped. Because they were "provocative."


I'm fine with talking about ways to keep women (and men) safe from rape and other crimes. But I draw the line when people start tossing around words like "provocative" and "guilt" and "responsibility." Because people who are raped do not provoke it, they are not responsible for it, and they are guilty of nothing. Any talk about "minimizing the responsibility" of rape victims to behave in certain ways is really just minimizing the responsibility of rapists.

Women get raped because rapists rape them. Period. There is no such thing as "provocation" for a forcible rape. There are no mitigating circumstances for rapists. None. Zero. Never. "No" means no. "Stop" means stop. It doesn't matter who says it or what they were doing before they said it. There is nothing any person in the world can do that would make any normal, decent person rape them.

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