We need to talk about Victim Blaming, and that’s not going to go over well with certain people.
Of course, it is terrible to tell someone who has suffered a sexual assault that they bear any responsibility for what happened to them–regardless of what they were wearing, what company they were keeping, or where they happened to be when the attack occurred. It is never the fault of the person who was assaulted; period, full stop.
On the other hand, the people who believe the victims share some of the responsibility for what happened to them, whether out of genuine ignorance of how societies and cultures work, or conscious rationalization for their own dark impulses, are to blame for giving sexual predators justifications for their behavior; also period, also full stop.
But it’s those dark impulses that are the crux of this matter. Whether you want to couch this issue in terms of Evil, or Psychosis, or Bad Parenting, isn’t relevant to the most productive way of addressing it. There have always been and will likely–regardless of the emphatic assertions by twinkle-eyed optimists–always be those who want to hurt innocent people. And there has always only been one way of stopping them.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement–encouraging victims of harassment, sexual assault, and rape to come forward and “out” the people who victimized them–many powerful people and celebrities have had their behaviors and crimes brought to light. The number of women who have spoken up with a “me too” seems to have finally gotten the point across to the general public that there really is a problem that needs to be addressed.
But as inappropriate as it is to reference a cartoon public service announcement, “knowing” really is “only half the battle”. The rest of the battle is getting actual justice for the victims, and most importantly, empowering people with the tools to prevent becoming victims themselves. And despite what certain ideologically-tainted voices in the discussion like to assert, it’s not blaming the victim to acknowledge that threats exist, and that it is both rational and responsible to prepare for them.
It’s not Victim Blaming to acknowledge that threats exist and that it is rational to prepare for them.
As reported by USA Today in 2015, tens of thousands of rape kits sit untested in evidence rooms across the United States with no apparent means or political will to ensure they get used towards prosecuting rapists. And what’s even more alarming is that several thousand of those kits belong to child victims. This should serve everyone as a bleak reminder that at the end of the day, you and you alone are responsible for your own safety.
In a piece for the Houston Press, Jeff Rouner has captured the spirit of this issue, and when it comes to his daughter he has some very blunt words of advice:
This is why I’ve started telling my daughter that if someone touches her chest, her ass or between her legs without her permission, to punch them in the goddamn face. Aim for the nose, Sweetheart. You don’t want to catch their teeth and get a cut. That’s a good way to get an infection. You want nose or eyes, and maybe use that front choke Daddy taught you. Turn your forearms so the bone goes against their carotid and jugular. That’s what makes them pass out.
Regardless of whether or not violence the “right” answer to the problem is irrelevant when–at the end of the day–it is the effective answer. While academics argue the causes of sexual predation and rape kits go ignored by law enforcement, predators continue to find more victims. Perhaps it’s time to see about ensuring there are fewer predators.
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