Ask Surly Amy: Victim Blaming
Dear Surly Amy,
At uni today I got into a discussion about victim blaming, and someone did the stock thing of saying ‘If a woman gets so bladdered she can’t think, it’s her fault. Especially if she’s not wearing much’. How can you respond to this and attempt to make some sort of impression? The only other person involved supported him and in an engineering department, it’s hard to find back-up or anyone who can even see a problem. He claims to want equality, but in the same breath will claim that the only use of women in an office is decoration and has unashamedly harassed women before.
Your schoolmate is an asshole.
A person who says that it was the woman’s fault in assault cases because she was dressed in a certain way, or for being intoxicated, is essentially saying that he believes that all men are so weak in character that they are incapable of controlling themselves in even the most simplistic of social situations and are ready and willing to break the law at a moment’s notice. He is projecting his own character flaws and perceived lack of control onto the culture at large. By saying, “she was asking for it” he is telling you that he is the type of guy that has a lack of respect for women as human beings and that he is ruled by his own sexual desires and apparent violent tendencies. He is saying that he can not control himself when women are present. He is saying women are to be interpreted primarily as sexual objects and that women should be responsible for predetermining violent or unwanted sexual attention and should somehow find ways to control that behavior in men through their daily wardrobe choices. It is indeed, a classic example of the victim blaming you said you were discussing.
Is your friend so overwhelmed by the clothing choices of certain women that he can’t help but whip out his penis if they are dressed a certain way? If the answer is yes, as he alludes, then he should seek therapy before he hurts someone or gets his penis stuck in a fence. It is stunning that he even makes it to his school on warm spring days, when ladies on the street remove their coats. Surely, a summer breeze would have us all asking for it in his eyes.
The excuse of “she was asking for it” is just so goddamn tired and old. It is an embarrassment to good men everywhere, the majority of whom are not sexual-predator-asswhipes. If just the very thought of sex or a sexual innuendo turns you into a raging, rape-machine that can’t be stopped, you should politely remove yourself from our grand society until you can learn to control yourself like a regular person. And telling women that they can not participate in social situations or alcohol consumption or dress how they please for fear of being raped or assaulted because you have deemed that they have shown up or left a social situation “asking for it” makes you a gigantic, raging-asshole and part of the problem of rape culture.
Women are not accessories for your office or your penis regardless of their attire. And focussing the blame on victims who are characterized as “asking for it” is the main way abusers avoid responsibility for their actions and find an excuses to continue on with hurtful and dangerous behavior.
If this guy is immediately being overwhelmed by hemlines and sheer blouses, as he insinuates, when he refers to the clothing choices of women as a trigger for assault, then he should stop socializing and probably stop drinking too. He is the problem, not a shot of Jack Daniels or the hint of a bare shoulder in a bar-room.
And last time I checked, even six-inch patent leather stiletto heels can’t magically whip a penis out of a pair of pants. But if you would like to present me with evidence of this accouterment witchcraft, feel free to send magic shoes and other supernatural clothing accessories or apparel to Skepchick.org. The women and men here at Skepchick would be more than happy to test them out. We do love shoes.
Let’s not forget that regardless of how modest or provocative fashion has been through the ages, there has still been rape.
This meme was floating around twitter last week and sums it up rather well:
Remember when women dressed modestly and there was no rape? Yeah, that was the best imaginary time ever.
I hope this helps you with future interactions with this person though I would try my best to steer clear of a person who considers a woman an object first and a human being second and I hope other men will start calling out people like this as the embarrassment and threat that they are.
Photos ©Amy Davis Roth
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