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The Rape Blame Game

March 12, 2010

A disturbing survey from London has revealed that a large portion of women believe that the victims of rape are to blame. The survey, conducted on 1,000 people (mostly women) between the ages of 18-50 but mostly young adults between 18-24 years, showed the following:

  • Almost 3 quarters believe the victim should take ‘some responsibility’ if she got into bed with the attacker before the rape.
  • One third believed that the victim was at least partially to blame if she was dressed provocatively or had accepted a drink from the attacker.
  • More than half believe there are circumstances where the victim should accept blame.
  • Over 24% believe the blame falls partially on the victim if she had conversation with the attacker before.
  • One in eight women surveyed blamed the victim if she was dancing provocatively.

Ah, the “She Had It Coming!” mentality of some of these people. You would think that with these women blaming rape victims so easily, they’d be a pretty safe bunch, eh? The survey took it a step further and began not only asking participants their opinions on rape victim circumstances, but on the participants own actions.

  • Nearly half of those surveyed reported that they have walked home alone on side streets.
  • One in five admitted to getting into a cab without seeing if it was licensed.
  • One in five also admitted to having been so drunk before that they have lost their memory.
  • 40% of the women surveyed also admitted to having been in a situation that could have resulted in forced sex.

40%? Now I’m sure that at least some of those women tie into the same ones placing blame on the victim. How can the blame be placed on one woman in a ‘possible rape situation’ but not on another, simply because one ended up being raped and the other didn’t? Hypocrisy, apparently.

How sad is this? Let’s look at some facts, ladies:

  • There is no evidence on why certain people are raped. Rape victims can be any age, race, gender, height, religion, weight, and social status. It’s not just ‘sluts in short skirts who drink too much’. Its also the Catholic mother of 2 living in the suburbs. The 15-year-old boy just starting high school. The grandmother who locks all her doors.
  • Rape is about power, not sex, which is why anyone can be raped, and why rapists aren’t just ‘ugly creepy guys who can’t get laid’. The handsome basketball player who gets all the ladies is just as likely to rape someone as the guy who’s never had a girlfriend.
  • Simply because a woman is drunk, or wearing a skirt, doesn’t mean she is ‘more likely’ to get raped because of the ‘easier access’. Many rapists use brute force, threats, or weapons when going after someone. If a woman is wearing a short skirt and gets cornered in the bathroom by a man with a knife, is she more to blame? No, because there is no evidence, ever, suggesting that the rapist would not have gone in there if she was a sober nun.
  • Rape is defined as any form of sexual intercourse that one participant did not agree to, or was not able to agree to. In other words, no means no. Rape has nothing to do with any previous actions of the victim.
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16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2010 10:29 pm

    From a legal standpoint you’re absolutely correct. From a more pragmatic and ethical standpoint you’re a bit off base.

    Women need to take responsibility for their own actions. If they behave foolishly and end up having sex they didn’t want to have, then they’re partially to blame for that without that diminishing the level of blame that must be placed on the aggressor. It’s not a zero-sum game;there’s plenty of blame to go around.

    Face it, if I got wasted and walked into traffic or started a fight, I’d have to accept part of the blame for whatever happened. This is no different since nothing you posted said the women would blame that “Catholic mother of two.”

    Actually, the material didn’t even define rape in the context of the survey. You focused on forcible rape in your counterpoint, but how about “rape” resulting from next morning regrets after waking up next to some stranger?

    • Tegan McRae permalink*
      March 12, 2010 10:35 pm

      Except if a woman got into bed and had sex with someone and felt bad about it later, that isn’t rape. When a woman is forced to into having sex because she is threatened, hurt, or simply overpowered, its not sex, its rape.

      You’re confusing women who are guilty about consensual sex with woman who were raped. Rape means she said no, and did not consent to the sex, and if the other person goes through with the sex after that, it is rape.

      • March 16, 2010 8:49 am

        Rape isn’t just the presence of a “no,” it’s the absence of any sort of consent. If the guy has sex with her without bothering to figure out if she wants it or not (or if she’s too drunk to consent anyway), it’s “rape” just as much as continuing with sex after a woman says “no” is rape.

    • GigabyteGlory permalink
      March 12, 2010 10:46 pm

      I only slightly agree with your logic, Jonolan. It’s reasonable to believe a woman is making a stupid decision if she gets drunk and stumbles home alone in the middle of the night, or hops in a cab, or passes out at a large party, etc. But, like you said, you can place the blame on anyone/everyone. It could be a witness’ fault that a girl might get raped, or it could be her parents’, or it could be the stupid fuck who sees an incapacitated woman and thinks “It’s OK if I beat her up and scar her for life: cause I’m horny.”

      When approaching the issues behind rape, you have to consider the mentality behind the people involved. Would you blame a rapist, or a woman who is easily molded by the high sexual implications of society’s standards?

      As for your suggestion that a woman can simply cry “rape” after a bad sexual experience… I believe that is swiftly becoming a myth. Like you implied, there are too many factors to consider.

      • March 16, 2010 8:52 am

        Something like 5% of women who “cry rape” turn out to have been lying. It’s definitely a myth. In any case, the fact that some women feel guilty after consensual sex is evidence OF rape culture, not against it – it’s evidence of a culture that denies female sexual agency, that tells us that men are the only ones who are supposed to feel good about sex while we take it because we want to please men.

        And that 5% of rape reports which turn out to be lies doesn’t even account for the fact that the vast, vast majority of rapes are, unfortunately – and thanks to all the douchebags who say “she was asking for it” – never reported.

    • March 16, 2010 9:02 am

      But your analogy doesn’t work. Because there’s a fundamental difference between wandering out into oncoming traffic and being passed-out at a party you’re ignoring.

      The driver who hits you might not see you, and even if they did, they might not have been able to stop in time. In other words, it is possible they might not have been able to stop themselves from hitting you.

      Whereas, there is nothing compelling anyone to rape anyone else. When someone says “no” or indicates a lack of consent in some other way (or is too drunk or afraid or whatever to indicate anything), there is nothing forcing the other person to have/continue having sex with them. We are all perfectly capable of stopping, or just not starting if the lack of consent is present from the get-go. No reasonable person should see a passed-out drunk person and think “I’d hit that.”

  2. Tegan McRae permalink*
    March 12, 2010 10:38 pm

    Further more what part of ‘forced sex’ don’t you understand? No one forces you to walk into traffic, no one forced you to start a fight. Your comparisons are completely off base. If a woman is drunk and her attacker is pushing her down and she is struggling and yelling no, how in the hell is she to blame when she does everything in her power to stop this attack?

    By your logic, the only way that women can be fully not-responsible for being rape is if she stayed inside with locks and chains on her doors and never left.

    • GigabyteGlory permalink
      March 12, 2010 10:53 pm

      You really have to look at the origins of rape and social/gender standards to consider who is really to blame. And it always boils down to the man.

      Even if you say that women are to blame due to their outfits/dancing/etc., you can say that thousands of years of male-dominated social standards molding women into their ideal image is to blame.

      The male gender is demented as fuck.

      • Tegan McRae permalink*
        March 12, 2010 10:56 pm

        I hate to place so much blame on the male gender because obviously they’re not all fucked up, not at all. But there are far more cases of man on woman rape than any other :/ So sorry to anyone offended that I consistently used ‘she’ as the victim and ‘he’ as the attacker, it was simply the best and probably most relatable way to portray what I was saying.

  3. Courtney Chettle permalink
    March 12, 2010 10:50 pm

    I don’t understand how it is anyone but the rapists fault. I’m sure this girl wasn’t like OH PLEASE RAPE ME no fuck that, and if she is too drunk to say yes then she’s too drunk to have sex it is still rape. I speak of this from a standpoint of “been there done that” and I have placed a lot of blame on myself for years but truth is, yes I made stupid choices but I didn’t ask to get raped, I couldn’t even fucking talk or move let alone fight off someone weighing 70 pounds more than me and having 5 inches on me. I don’t understand how people can place blame on the victim. i fucking hate people. Sorry Tegan, but thank you for writing this.

    • Tegan McRae permalink*
      March 12, 2010 10:57 pm

      Thank you Courtney. Some people will just never understand because they’ve never been in that position and don’t understand what true ‘force’ is. The world of abuse is inconceivable to so many people, and instead of finding empathy they turn to blame and hate.

  4. March 12, 2010 11:01 pm

    There is a clear distinction between a coyote ugly morning and rape. To say other wise is entering into a sphere of ignorance which is absolutely mind boggling. If I were to rape you, then by your own logic, it would be partially your fault, if not entirely yours for getting drunk in front of me. HOW DARE YOU GO OUT AND ENJOY YOURSELF?

    You’re also assuming that all rape victims were drunk at the time. This completely discounts women who were drugged or physically assaulted before hand, and were unable to defend themselves. So women don’t even get the chance to say ‘no.’ And all rape is forced sex, there’s no distinction based on convenience. If someone takes advantage of a women in any sate, they are forcing themselves on that person.

    You’re also ignoring women (or men) who are attacked by someone they know, which is much, much more common then a random person on the street. The victim may be too afraid or confused to realize right away that this is something they don’t want until some time has passed. She might feel guilty, blaming herself for what happened when she was manipulated by someone. Rape is always a power play.

  5. Shelly permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:17 pm

    To say that a woman, under any circumstances, is responsible in any way for being raped is playing into the age old fallacy that men are unable to control themselves once they are sexually aroused. Jonolan, your type of thinking further perpetuates that myth. Rape is, indeed, a zero-sum game. The rapist attacks and assaults his victim, forcing her into a brutal form of intercourse that is not in the least bit sexual. It is an attack. Her attire is not to blame. Her attitude is not to blame. Her location at the time of the attack is not a factor. The “foolish” behavior of a woman does not entitle a man to inflict himself on her, to rape her.

    I suppose, though, following your logic, if a man gets drunk I can kick him in the nuts and steal his wallet, because he is acting foolish.

  6. December 17, 2010 9:24 pm

    Please take a look at the Welsh Assembly Government’s new campaign that seeks to challenge the endemic culture of victim blame for rape and sexual assault.
    http://www.stopblame.org

    Take a look and leave your comment.

Trackbacks

  1. Highlights Week 8 « Highlights of the Puma Press Blogs
  2. Men Can Stop Rape.Org « The Sangfroid

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