Adrienne BoettingerFriday,2 August 2013

The Snap:

Yesterday, judges shocked the public by setting free all convicted arsonists. But the reasoning behind the decision made total sense. I mean, how can you blame people for setting buildings on fire when they were begging for it by being made of wood? Also, people convicted on charges of robbery were released because the people they robbed were asking for it by having all that stuff and being all showy about it. Plus some didn’t have good security — a sign that the robbery was consensual. Sound ridiculous? No more so than blaming the victim of sexual assault rather than the person who assaulted them.

The Download:

We just had sexual assault prevention training at work. I couldn’t attend in person so I had to watch a video of the presentation. The most disturbing part wasn’t statistics or awful stories of violence. It was the audience. Their behavior can be summed up in three words: blame the victim. When asked by the presenter how to reduce the risk of sexual assault, the audience answered, “don’t get drunk,” “don’t dress promiscuously,” and “don’t walk by yourself.”

This practice of blaming the victim is enshrined in our society. A 13-year-old boy in Colorado was raped on a school bus by three high school wrestlers. The attackers were given light sentences and the town blamed the victim and his father for prosecuting what the town saw as a harmless prank. Attorneys in Louisiana said that a 14-year-old girl in a detention center bore some responsibility for being raped by a guard who didn’t “intimidate” or “force” her. Because, of course, how would a guard be able to intimidate a 14-year-old girl in his charge?

Societies around the world blame the victim. A Hong Kong official advised women not to drink to avoid being raped. An Italian priest preached that women bring violence upon themselves when they are scantily clad. Nearly 20% of Canadian survey respondents indicated that women encourage or provoke sexual assault when they are drunk.

Let’s get something straight, assholes: no woman, man or child deserves to be raped. No matter what they do, no matter how they dress; no one deserves this. You can dress like a nun, be sober as a judge, and still be raped.

Every 2 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in America. Nearly 2/3 of all victims know their attackers. This problem isn’t the work of a handful of psychos. It is ingrained in our society in the way we value the strong over the weak, how we raise our boys to be tough and never cry, and how we sexualize and objectify women. Making the world safe for our daughters means raising our sons to understand that being drunk, passed out, or dressed in a certain way doesn’t merit being sexually assaulted. It means making it okay for boys to show emotions and to not feel like they need to constantly prove their masculinity through dominance of another human being.

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Hat Tips:

The Atlantic, Tri-Parish Times, Jezebel, NPR, Times Colonist, Slate, RAINN, Salon, Huffington Post, Image Credit: Flickr

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