Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blaming the Victim?

I listened to Amanda Marcotte's commentary in a recent discussion discussing the question of whether victims of rape ever bear some of the responsibility on a podcast called World Have Your Say by the BBC. Unfortunately, they let City Journal's Heather MacDonald talk more than Amanda, and the discussion got a bit convoluted. I was also somewhat astonished by some callers who asserted that the way women dressed was to blame for sexual assault. Still, the discussion was interesting and I was pleased that a couple of panelists pointed out that there's so much emphasis on educating women on what not to do but not nearly enough emphasis on teaching men not to rape.

Additionally, I think MacDonald's narrative is deceptive in many ways. In addition to the fact that she paints drunken girls at frat parties as the norm when it comes to rape, there's also a danger in painting this narrative of telling women how to avoid rape.

But by bulleting a list of behaviors women should avoid (don't dress too slutty, don't walk alone in a bad part of town) I think we're actually giving young women a false sense of security. By preaching these "don't do or you'll get raped" behaviors over and over again, young women might begin to believe that they'll be safe if they just avoid those behaviors.

For obvious reasons, this is a very dangerous line of thinking. I wish the discussion about acquaintance rape wasn't weaving a narrative about unsafe behaviors are what cause rape.

1 comment:

Rocio said...

Thank you for writing this.

I'm going to show this to my boyfriend.

I am a sexual assault survivor and my boyfriend does not understand why feminist blogs spend so much time trying to teach men how not to rape and not giving me any advice on how to avoid another sexual assault. (I do understand what it is that they are doing and agree wholeheartedly!)

If he reads this he may understand that everyone else focuses on these things, and feminist blogs are trying to change rape culture and they know that women get taught since childhood a million things that they can do to prevent rape that are often not helpful.

He is wholeheartedly against victim blaming but I think this will help him understand why solely focusing on rape prevention is so problematic.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...