By Daliya Jokondo
So, I lost my way around this blog thing and didn’t know how to post an entry for a minute there. 😦 Anyway, I wrote this as a blog entry after some old man thought it’d be cute to harass me on the streets, the reactions I received from friends after the incident were not ones that I liked very much. So, I wrote this and posted it on my facebook first (oddly enough to positive and only responses I got were from other males, I was hoping for the females to say something). Anyway, in my post I attempted to figure out just why it is that women get blamed for sexual harassment, abuse and violence. My commentary is incomplete and generalizations are made because this is based on my own knowledge and experience. Also I am aware it’s a bit repetitive, hey I wrote it at 4 am in the morning in a hissy fit. (therefore the swearing).
Feel free to ask for elaboration, add your own opinions and even disagree, feedback is welcome.
Now that the disclaimer is over, here we go, yes?
The issue of sexual harassment, sexual assault/abuse and rape are matters that sits very close to my heart when it comes to my relationship with feminism. Sexual crimes are a grave form of social control and oppression through physical intimidation, humiliation, fear and finally sealed with victim blaming. Victim blaming serves to dis-empower and avert attention away from placing responsibility where it’s due and effectively removing this form of oppression..
When it comes to victim-blaming men are usually more likely to be the perpetrators of this act. Non-rapist men feel the need to take the responsibility, intentionally or not, away from rapists and place it on women as to not incriminate their gender (the almost desperate need to believe that the majority of men are not capable of rape, this majority would include themselves), also because quite simply, they are never taught that it could possibly be their fault, their responsibility. It’s the woman’s responsibility to shelter herself from men, because women are these alluring, seductresses that cause men to lose sense of their actions, right?
Thus, their avoidance of responsibility comes in the form of blaming female victims instead of the actual rapists.
This is alarming because, the act of victim blaming in terms of sexual violence is one of the most effective ways to remove responsibility from sexual predators/rapists (less than half of reported rapes end in conviction). It creates the false belief that sexual violence such as sexual assault/abuse and rape can truly be avoided if the victim takes certain actions. For example dressing a certain way, only going to certain places in large groups or with male companions, leaving the streets and safely staying home at certain hours, etc. If the victim fails to follow through, in consequence, whatever ill might befall her is a product of her own negligence or could lead to the suggestion that she was “looking for it” or “wanted it.”
Consequently, victims tend to be the first to internalizes such beliefs and hold themselves accountable for their assault/abuse/rape, therefore also aiding in removing responsibility from their attacker. However, for the victim, the blaming casting is a product of a want or need to feel less of a victim, though plagued with shame and guilt, and the assurance that they could have prevented the attackt and will be able to prevent future occurrences by acting or dressing differently.
I have found that women are also guilty of playing the “victim blaming game.” Their actions are a product of their own fears of rape; by placing blame on other women’s “negligence” to be safe they lead themselves to believe that they are more in control, making the possibility of them being attacked less of a likelihood. For example a woman might say, “I know better than to wear short skirts,” “I never go anywhere by myself,” “I’m am just not that kind of girl.” There’s a creation of a false persona of what “kind” of girl is more prone to rape and this persona becomes connected with skewed ideas of morality (i.e. only whorish girls get raped, careless girls get raped etc). All of these false notions create “other” categories that does not include them. This is daunting because the fact of the matter is, there is only one category and it constitutes of being a woman.
A woman can cover from head to toe, always leave her home with a male figure, never step out after dark and still be a victim.
Other facts that escape most men and woman is that most reported sexual crimes are inflicted by acquaintances, friends, relatives, intimate partners (boyfriend/husband), with a smaller percentage leaning towards complete strangers. I mention this just to bring to light how nonsensical it is for a woman to have single responsibility of protecting herself at all times and why victim blaming is highly uncalled for because in reality, there is NO “right” way to be safe if we are going to play the victim blaming game. The only right way is to place blame where blame is due.
On the perpetrator.
And this is where I start losing my cool composure, so bear with me…It’s almost 4 am….
By placing responsibility on women, we can never reduce sexual crimes. Rapists need to be forced to take responsibility for their own vile actions. Stop putting victims on trail and treating them like they deserved it. When it comes to rape trails, rape victims tend to be discriminated against more-so than victims of other crimes in intolerable ways.
As for non rapist (and non violent) males need to take an active part in speaking and acting out against sexual violence against women. Speaking against rape does NOT incriminate you or all of your gender. I often feel great irritation for males who feel the need to get all banged up on my speaking out against the actions of other males that bears no connection to them. It’s fuckin’ ridiculous.
I find it absolutely infuriating that women are told to dress a certain way, act a certain way, go to certain places amongst other hundreds of do’s and don’ts because it’s HER fuckin’ responsibility to keep herself tucked away from helplessly and sexually frustrated, out of control horny Billy. All the while there’s a great negligence in teaching males that a woman is never theirs to have no matter how drunk she is at that bar, how scantly she’s dressed or how alone she is on her way home. She is NEVER yours to have and you have no right, no fuckin’ right in hell to touch her. Ever. PERIOD.
It is never, EVER her fault.