Friday, February 19, 2016

The Inversion of Victim-Blaming

This rant has been building for a while, but I'll try to keep it brief.

My husband shared an article with me this morning from National Review about another incident of overblown outrage over the suggestion that rapists roam at large on college campuses.  I thought that was just an established fact at this point.  Apparently a warning emailed to students about a rash of drugged drinks and the suggestion that all female students spare the time and effort to take some precautions was "unacceptable" and an example of "rape culture."

Somehow the possibility that women should have to consider and guard against the possibility of rape has become insulting.  It is not victim-blaming to suggest that women do bear some responsibility for their own safety.  That includes planning, taking precautions, and being aware of your surroundings.  If that equals rape culture, then rape culture has been around since the dawn of time and isn't going anywhere.  Might as well adapt to it.

These outraged students need to remember what real rape culture and real victim-blaming look like, a time when it was considered impossible to rape any woman who could be proved to have venereal disease, because that was proof positive that she was just a slut.  See the documentary "Girl 27" for more on that.

I was listening to NPR the other day, and the topic was domestic violence and what we as a society can do about it.  One caller dared to suggest that women do in fact bear some responsibility to avoid attaching themselves to obviously violent and abusive men.  He was immediately dismissed as a victim-blamer and completely disregarded.

The world is a dangerous place.  No amount of public awareness this side of Utopia is going to make the ancient social ills of mankind vanish into the ether.  Rapists gonna rape.  The suggestion that all women are helpless floozies who must be protected by society at large against their own carelessness is insulting and infantilizing.

That said, the apparently outrageous email which sparked this debate is actually full of good basic advice.  Watch out for your friends, watch your drink, keep your wits about you.  The idea of "the integrity of your cup" is not a joke; my husband tells me it is common advice in the military to just get a new drink if you went to the bathroom and didn't bring it with you.  Don't trust anyone else to have your immediate safety as his first priority.  That is your job.

1 comment:

  1. This article jives with me. I had a family member who was given a date rape drug actually. Nobody did anything to her, but thats probably because she left the bar unexpectedly early and ended up collapsing on the sidewalk shortly before we managed to reach her. Took her to the hospital. Things worked out. But that was pretty scary. I was immediately reminded of it when I read this post.

    Listen, oddly enough, I've read a lot of your stories and I fell in love with your style of writing. I noticed you said you beta read, which would work well for me if you had the time. Although what I actually really want is a co-author. One who might be interested in writing something totally original that would be willing to send it out to agents and publishers upon completion. Might you fit that bill? Eh? Email me up! I'll send you writing samples and stuff. Email is