Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Rape has never been a punishment for stupidity"

I wrote down this quote in my feminist methodologies class yesterday when we were watching NO! The Rape Documentary because it seemed to be a great argument against all the victim-blaming I hear when it comes to rape and other forms of sexual assault. When has rape ever been the prescribed punishment for making a bad (perhaps "stupid") choice? And who decides which actions and choices are "stupid?"

I wrote this post out and hesitated for a long time before finally deciding to publish it, fearing that people might think I was not taking this topic seriously or that I was trying to make fun of people. Neither of those is the case. Rape is a tough topic to discuss, especially when it comes to responsibility, but that doesn’t change the fact that rape happens and it needs to be talked about. The idea behind this post is to challenge the ideas of some of the comments on this blog. I will provide you with a sample of some of these comments (names excluded), followed by my own “translations” with the regard to the “stupidity of women.” I feel that providing real examples of victim-blaming might help make this post more effective.

I would like to note that my translations may not be exactly what the authors of those comments intended, but they certainly are one way to view their arguments, and I hope that they might read this post and re-think what they said.

This post is meant to be in-your-face. It is meant to be challenging. It is meant to make people re-think some of their arguments.

Here it goes:

Comment: If you act like a 10 cent whore, you will be treated like a 10 cent whore.

Translation: If you women are stupid enough to act/dress sensually, then you will be raped.

Comment: You can dress and act any way to please, but you still have to deal with the consequences…If you want to "drink, to flirt, to walk alone at night,"…you will, in return, be faced with adverse consequences. I make it very clear that this does not apply to EVERY rape case, but the riskier life YOU lead, the more risk YOU are susceptible to.

Translation: If you women are so stupid as to think that you can take the same “risks” as men (like drinking, flirting, and walking home alone), it is more likely that you will be raped.

Comment: Rape is not the victim's FAULT but by placing yourself out there in outfits that say "come and get me, i'm cheap" certainly increase the risk of getting raped.

Translation: If you women are stupid enough to not understand how your manner of dressing will cause a man to react, then you increase the likelihood of getting raped.

Comment: It is impossible to re-educate men. As a feminist, you'd think you would know that. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. It is not something you are going to be able to do unless you cage all men and force them to be so afraid of women that they wouldn't dare try anything... but I'm pretty sure that that is highly illegal, so there's no chance of that happening in the near future.

Translation: Men are stupid, so if you women do something stupid, like wear a skirt or flirt with the stupid men, you will tempt them to rape you. So stop it, because the poor stupid men can’t change. You women must change for them.

Note: A lot of these comments try to validate their claims by saying things like “this doesn’t apply to all rape cases” and “not all rapes can be prevented by the victim,” but they still imply that it is the woman’s fault if she does “stupid” things that appear “risky” (but why are these things considered risky in the first place?)

“Rape has never been a punishment for stupidity.” - Loretta Ross, NO! The Rape Documentary

How do those arguments sound now?

11 comments:

Goose said...

I think what alot of the commentors actually meant was that rape, unfortunately, still occurs in our society so women should take precautions to avoid it. Just like theft or any other crime.

Amelia said...

Right, but they also made it sound like if a woman didn't take every possible precaution, she was stupid, and basically asking for the rape.

How is that fair?

Jezabel said...

I agree with Goose. The women who are raped are not necessarily "stupid," they just don't take the proper precautions to protect themselves.

While it's true that if women dress "like 10 cent whores" they are looked upon as such; however, if women dress like this, they have to realize they will get attention that they may not necessarily want. I'm not saying all women should dress like nuns, because God knows I don't. What I'm saying is that women who do dress more provacatively need to be willing to accept any consequences that their attire may present.


"If you women are so stupid as to think that you can take the same “risks” as men (like drinking, flirting, and walking home alone), it is more likely that you will be raped."
It's not always more likely that they will be raped. It just increases the chances that they will be in situations in which rape is more likely to occur. Women can take the same risks as men, they just have to acknowledge the situations they place themselves in and be aware of their surroundings.

"If you women are stupid enough to not understand how your manner of dressing will cause a man to react, then you increase the likelihood of getting raped.
It's not a matter of stupidity. Women dress provocatively in order to attract the attention of men. Low-cut tops and short skirts do attract the attention of men rather well, but it must also be taken into consideration the type of attention that these women are attracting. They will be labeled as "easy" based on their wardrobe, even if they are not really that way - and men that want "easy" women will flock to them. Thus, yet again, placing the woman in a situation she did not want to be in.

"Men are stupid, so if you women do something stupid, like wear a skirt or flirt with the stupid men, you will tempt them to rape you. So stop it, because the poor stupid men can’t change. You women must change for them."
Not all guys are bad. I know a lot of great guys. I know a lot of guys who tell me I need to put more clothes on, watch who I hang out with when I or others are drinking, and alltogether look out for me. Women don't need to change for men, because stupid men are not all rapists. Some are just stupid.

"Rape has never been a punishment for stupidity."
It's not a punishment for stupidity. It's a horrible consequence of not fully thinking out decisions and actions.

Lindsay said...

For me, these comments seem to ignore the fact that rape isn't about sex - it's about power. None of the comments acknowledge that.

It's a horrible consequence of not fully thinking out decisions and actions.

No no no no no. Stop the victim-blaming. It's a horrible thing done by someone else and that is no fault of the person who has been raped - regardless of decisions or actions. No one gets dressed going out for the night thinking, "I won't wear that because I might get raped." Or at least people shouldn't. I should be able to wear whatever I want.

Rape isn't about wanting to have sex with a drunk person, it's about having power over another person.

Jezabel said...

It isn't victim-blaming!!

It's an act of violent, sexual force/power over another who was placed in the situation partially due to their unconscious actions and partially due to the views of society and the rapist.

It's not victim-blaming. In rape, everyone has some action that leads to the rape.

No one gets dressed going out for the night thinking, "I won't wear that because I might get raped." Or at least people shouldn't. I should be able to wear whatever I want.
No one thinks that, and people DO wear what they want. Women just need to accept that certain outfits draw the wrong kind of attention that lead to consequences - everything in life has a consequence. Some are positive. Some are negative. Rape is a negative consequence.

Amelia said...

It is victim-blaming, Jezebel, as long as you refuse to make mention of any sort of action that men can take to stop rape. I have not heard you say anything that men can do about preventing rape. It has all been about what women should do.

That places the blame on the victim. That is victim-blaming.

I am in the middle of writing another post about this topic.

Jezabel said...

It places some blame on the victim, sure... but in situations such as that, everyone, including people who are just observers, all share a part of blame.

I'm not saying if a nun gets raped she'd be to blame.

And yes, men can take steps to stop it. That's true. But they don't. So they take some of the blame too. You can't blame ONE person for anything.

Kate said...

"In rape, everyone has some action that leads to the rape."

Really, even little kids raped by their fathers? Men raped in prison? Women in the Middle East raped as punishment for their brother's crimes? Women who take a cab home from a bar and are raped by their cab drivers?

Jezabel said...

Okay... as with all generalizations there are exceptions to every rule.

Anne said...

Jezabel,
You can blame one person. If someone makes a decision to commit a crime then they are 100% to blame. No one else is to blame. Got it?
If I decided to assault you one night would you be to blame for my actions?
I'm sure I could nitpick at every little thing you did in a pathetic attempt to cast attention away from what I did (and believe me I'll have plenty of things you did/didn't do to nitpick about) but when it comes down to it, nothing you did or didn't do caused me to commit a crime against you - me making the decision to do it was the cause. Some things you did or didn't do may have made it easier or harder, but the decision and action would be all mine. The blame would be all mind.

And your other comment:
And yes, men can take steps to stop it. That's true. But they don't. So they take some of the blame too.
Men can and should take steps to stop rape since, you know, they're the ones who do the overwhelming majority of the raping. The fact that they don't is the real problem here so we should be addressing THEM to change and not placing this all on the women's shoulders. There is a post on the Feminism 101 blog about this entitled "I Am Not My Cock" and I suggest reading it as well as all the other posts about rape.
Goose, you could stand to read those posts too.

Lindsay said...

I'm not saying if a nun gets raped she'd be to blame.

So you have to be a nun to avoid having some blame in your rape?