May 14, 2014

WTF Moment: Sexual Assault, the Media and the (Victim) Blame Game

Pop quiz! You see the following headline on Facebook:

What do you comment?

It seems like comments fall into three distinct categories:

  1. People who are horrified--these people may send prayers/thoughts or wonder what is happening to our world as a whole.
  2. People who come down on the suspect--these folks suggest hanging the suspect high or castrating him.
  3. People who blame the victim--these folks may take the path of outright blaming the victim or the more subtle path of making suggestions for how the situation can be avoided.
Victim blaming is insidious in all of its forms. In our community, it reared its ugly head on a post about a seven year old girl that was accidentally shot by another child. Where were her parents? Why did they let her play in the yard alone? They could have done this and that or the other, and avoided the entire situation.

As a species, we're surprisingly adept at utilizing victim blaming. It makes us feel more secure. We would never be victims. We would make different decisions, we would protect ourselves. It's comforting.

With that in mind, let's take a look at how some people answered that Pop Quiz I posted above.

Here's an excellent example. This poster would NEVER have gone with the man that is suspected of this crime--she could tell by the look in his eyes.

And another great example. Why do women do it? What possesses them? The demon of no self-preservation?

WHY ARE WE YELLING?!!!!!!??????!!!!???

If only the victim had been packing heat...this is critical.

It's not that the advice itself is bad. It's just poorly placed. When it comes to sexual assault, it's crucial to put the blame where it belongs, and that is not with victims. No one should have to feel afraid to go somewhere alone, or to go somewhere without a firearm, or to try to judge the look in someone's eye to see if they mean harm. The crime is not the victims just because they didn't prevent it.

The crime belongs only to the criminal that made the decision to violate another person.

And that, my dear friends, is where the buck should stop. Every time. Full stop.

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