Tag Archives: victim blaming

It’s been so long that I can’t remember what I usually call these posts.

Failure. Utter failure. I just don’t ever feel like blogging after a day at work.

And weekends? Forget it.

I do Tweet. The Friendly Atheist favorited one of my tweets today. Speaking of, Jessica’s coughing says it all about tax laws and churches on this post from the F.A. page.

Don’t you just love when women tell victims of sexual assault that it’s not their fault, but basically it is? Because after all, if women would just stay at home all the time no one would sexually assault them… Oh, wait. Haven’t I heard of many cases in which women are assaulted and/or raped in their own homes? Why yes, I have.  And just for the record, as Turley aptly puts it, courtrooms are not advice columns.

“Judges increasingly seem to yield to the desire to use their courtrooms to dispense their own forms of improvised justice or homegrown advice.”

The Culture War Reporters had a piece today on mourning celebrities versus mourning loved ones. It is well-written and touching, perhaps more so if you’ve ever lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s.

Freedom of speech can apparently be abused if you use it to say something against religion or that hurts religious peoples’ feelings. *sigh*

I really appreciate this post on Turley’s blog about torture.

Fighting for change – I really love the blog Inspirational Freethought because of the emphasis on positive things. It’s easy to get burned out, particularly lately as a feminist member of the atheist movement.

Argh. That’s right, that’s about as far as I can express myself about this. It’s just so incredibly frustrating! *Goes back and reads fighting for change post again*

Those 70s movies are oddly unattractive...

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Stop Blaming the Victim [Updated]

I was a part of a conversation recently about rape in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). The BWCA is in northern Minnesota. Trips through the BWCA are very remote, and people usually travel in groups for safety reasons. I don’t think anyone ever expects to be sexually assaulted in the BWCA, though, and “safety reasons” cover things like animal attacks, near-drowning or injuries instead of “fear of crimes against you.”

Anyway, what struck me about our conversation was the victim-blaming. I don’t mean the type of victim blaming where people say the victim could have prevented the rape by doing x, y or z differently. I mean the type of victim blaming that consists of people saying they feel bad that the victim feels traumatized, but maybe the rapists didn’t know they were raping the victim. The type of victim blaming where people are hyper-skeptical of the victim’s story, but don’t question what the alleged perpetrators say.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know what happened last June in the BWCA. I realize that Julia’s story isn’t a particularly convincing one for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here because they don’t really matter. Whatever happened, whether she was drugged and raped or just didn’t give enthusiastic consent or was a consensual partner (I doubt that one), I know two things.

First, rape victims are traumatized. Do you really expect every rape victim to have a rehearsed and perfect story? Have you ever been through a traumatic experience? Certainly some people have brains that seem to hit “record” as soon as something bad starts happening, but a lot of people don’t. It seems pretty inevitable to me that your traumatized brain may have a difficult time sorting out what the hell just happened to you. I don’t think we should be holding that against victims of any crime.

Second, saying that a rapist didn’t know he (or she) was raping someone is ridiculous. If you do not have enthusiastic, voluntary consent, don’t have sex. It’s pretty simple. I don’t care how horny you are, or how hard your dick is, or how much you’re craving whatever gets you off, if the other individual(s) does not give voluntary and enthusiastic consent*, don’t touch them. (Feel free to go off alone and touch yourself.)

I am tired of hearing people say things like that. I am tired of hearing rape victims blamed. Rapists may not explicitly know they’re raping a victim, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s not so hard to figure out if the sexual acts you are about to enter into are consensual or not.

If you didn’t scream out, “NO! Don’t take my wallet and purse!” at a burglar, would that mean the burglar didn’t know he was stealing from you? Would it mean he/she is somehow less guilty?

*[UPDATE] I just wanted to add something about enthusiastic consent. There are problems with the term “enthusiastic consent” that Cliff Pervocracy wrote a fantastic post about. This particular situation (stranger in the middle of nowhere), though, is a rather appropriate place to require enthusiastic consent. I just wanted to add that I’m aware of possible issues surrounding that phrase.

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Drinking Irresponsibly Doesn’t Make It Your Fault

Someone posted this on a Facebook group I follow. I definitely thought the following comment made a good point:

I agree : everyone needs to understand that rape is never truly preventable by the victim – rapists rape, and that’s why it happens. On the other side, the poster raises a valid point – girls and women can, to a limited degree, help prevent violence by not letting down their defences too much when they are out drinking. How should society raise awareness of that, without placing blame where it doesn’t belong?

The ad is out of line. The photo they used is unacceptable, and the slogan is blatant victim blaming. Just because a woman is inebriated does not mean anyone should take sexual advantage of her (same goes for if a man has been drinking, obviously). The ad slogan makes it sound as though if a woman’s decision-making ability is impaired it is, at least partially, her fault that someone took advantage of her. Yet it isn’t. It is entirely the fault of the perpetrator.

If you were walking down the street holding a purse, and someone came up and stole it from you it wouldn’t be your fault that the thief took the purse. Of course in that case it’s pretty clear you don’t want your purse stolen because, let’s face it, who does? But since it isn’t always perfectly obvious what other people want in terms of sex, we need to establish societal rules (and legal rules) by which to live. And none of those rules would ever say, “It is okay to sleep with someone who is drunk when there is a chance they do not want to do so.”

Back to the advertising campaign – the commenter I quoted raises a very good point. We live in reality, not the ideal world where no one would take advantage of an intoxicated person (or someone holding their purse unsecurely). Therefore, we should be sharing information that applies to reality. That means that the PA Liquor Control board was attempting to do the right thing by warning individuals to drink responsibly and carefully. I do not think I can say it better than the person quoted above, “how should society raise awareness of that, without placing blame where it doesn’t belong?” How do we tell people that, because there are individuals who will take advantage of you, you should be cautious when consuming alcohol? And how do we do this without it sounding like we’re saying they somehow deserve what they get for making imperfect decisions?

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