Monday, July 31, 2006

thank god for feministe

Seems like victim-blamers aren't lacking in the feminist blogosphere either.

On the 28th, zuzu posted about a NJ woman who had been abducted, raped, and murdered when she and a friend went into New York City for some partying.
As per usual with threads about rape victims, the comments degenerated into a victim-blaming pissing match, with people talking about how "stupid" she was to have too much to drink and so on and so forth. One commenter actually said that the women were "basically hanging a “fuck with me” sign on their backs."

And today, zuzu called them out on it:

For once, just for once, I wanted to try to have a discussion about a woman getting raped and murdered that DIDN’T devolve into an extended rehash of the same goddamn argument we always seem to have whenever a rape and/or murder of a woman is discussed: Namely, we start out on topic, then someone has to come in and blame the victim (she was drunk! doesn’t she know there were consequences! she was dressed like a hoochie! she was a stripper! she must be lying! what was she doing alone at night? what was she doing trusting a man?) and we’re off to the races.

And inevitably, in all the talk about what the victim did or didn’t do and whether the natural consequence of having a few too many and making some poor parking decisions is to be abducted, raped, murdered and your body left in a dumpster, someone disappears.

And that person is the rapist/murderer.

And sadly, this post also degenerated (though luckily not as quickly or as far) into some lovely victim-blaming, and whether saying that women need to report their rapes is victim-blaming or not (again, losing sight of the perpetrator).

I wrote about this too, about a month ago.
But I didn't quite get around to making this point that one of the commenters made on zuzu's post, which I reproduce in full here, because it captures the big picture very succinctly:

We need to make him [the rapist] disappear to keep up the fiction that rapists are scary brown bogeymen who hide in dark alleys waiting to sate their uncontrollable lust for innocent white girls. They’re monsters, born bad, insane, hideous beasts. There’s nothing we can do to control them, so women must take responsibility for protecting ourselves.

If we keep up this fiction we can continue to pretend that men we know and trust can’t be rapists, too. We can continue to pretend that violent porn is “just a fantasy” and there’s no such thing as a “rape culture”.

Blaming women involves nothing more than decrying the rise in slutdom, which we’ve been doing for hundreds of years. Blaming men involves facing harsh truths about our culture, way of life, our sons and husbands and fathers. Blaming women is always easier.

1 comment:

silverside said...

There is a squishy line in here somewhere. I detest the blame-the-victim mentality. But as the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, I can't just willy nilly let her go about in the world without trying to impart to her something in the way of street smarts.

No, learning not to accept a drink from an unenclosed container while at a party is not going to end rape in the world. It's not going to ensure that my daughter will never be raped. But it's a useful (if limited) preventative practice. And as she gets older and starts attending more parties, I hope she remembers Mom's advise. At minimum, it cuts off one avenue by which a rapist might take her by surprise. Not all. But one.

We can't all huddle at home under the covers, because the rapists will have won. (Besides, they can still break into our houses, and then we can get blamed that we only had two locks on that window instead of three). But somewhere along the line, we do need to teach our children that if they drink or drug, especially to excess, they will be at increased risk of battery, rape, dating violence, automobile accidents, etc. I do know that "youthful excess" is something of a rite of passage, and I'm not saying that you must live the life of a teetotaling ascetic. I would not blame my daughter if despite my warnings about drugs and alcohol, she did get hurt. But on the other hand, should we tell our daughters nothing? Party hearty and don't worry about it? What will be will be? You'll be raped no matter what you do, so you might as well become cynical and self-destructive and not take any precautions for your own safety? There is nothing you can do to protect yourself, or at least minimize the possibility of harm to yourself?

What do we tell our daughters?

Trying to provide information about certain behaviors that may lead your daughters to increased vulnerability to crime or injury does not have to degenerate into victim blaming. It just means that your discussions about the power that men have in the world, and why women are raped, needs to be peppered with some sensible suggestions that might be of use, at least in certain situations. Otherwise, I think it's too easy for women to feel totally powerless and despondent.