(First, kudos to Amanda Marcotte whose comment and link here in the Daily Kos Kerfuzzle thread served as the inspiration for this post)
How ingrained is our culture’s prominent “past-time” of ‘guilt tripping the sexual assault/rape victim for the attack’ in our psyches–especially the victims’? Whenever we begin to talk about the perpetrator (usually a guy) it seems as if we just throw up our hands in surrender and say, “yeah well, he’s a guy. Guys do that so watch out ladies.” Once again we slam the victims and women with all the responsibility for the attack, as if they raped or sexually assaulted themselves. When we list whose to blame for the attack and crime, we list everyone, including the victim, but rarely–if ever–the attacker. Or he’s at the bottom of the list and is portrayed as the least responsible for the attack. It’s the “we can’t help what guys do, but women should bear all the burden when it comes to prevention of sexual violence,” mentality of our culture. Rape Culture 101; guys are entitled to get sex on demand, to sexually harass, commit sexual assualt, and rape. And it’s all your fault if it happens to you. Guys can’t help themselves after all.
No one–I’m certainly not saying that women shouldn’t take precautions to protect themselves, but that’s a mere ‘band aid’ solution to the problem. The root of the problem here is that we barely or don’t at all take steps to educate young men about sexual violence prevention. While girls and young women are lectured on what not to do in certain scenarios in social settings, what do we do with the guys? Why are we so afraid to lecture them on “why they shouldn’t rape or sexually assault?” Why do we keep making up excuses for their behavior and crimes, but continue to scold the female victims for their attack? Boys will be boys; a tenet of the Rape Culture. Steve Gilliard’s post on the missing young woman in Aruba and his comment are prime examples of how we make up excuses for guys’ behavior towards women, and expect women to foresee their own attack. Never mind the guys’ responsibility in the attack at all–that doesn’t count.
I don’t think it’s not so much that “she got what she deserve”, but a media refusal to look at their conduct and say these girls were placed in a less than optimal situation. I would also bet no one had an honest discussion with them about acting like adults and making adult choices. Of course not. It was a “Christian” school. So they could get drunk, fuck any cute boy and no one would say things like:
“Be careful. Don’t just go off with any cute boy. He may not act that cute when you’re alone.”
“Carry condoms and lube”
“When you get drunk, you tend to make shitty decisions. So stick together and don’t let someone go off alone.”
Now, I’ve always been confused as to why a girl would go off with three guys. Was she going to pull a train? Or did she have two spare sex organs for them to use? Because otherwise, that sounds like a really bad decision. One which she should have been warned against. Boys in groups tend to do things they wouldn’t do alone. And the expectation of sex must have been high.
And we continue to gloss over the perpetrators and focus our blame squarely on the victim. Yes she didn’t make very good decisions but how does that warrant rape or sexual assault? How are rape and sexual assault “okay” decisions for guys? It’s okay to rape or sexually assault if the young woman made a poor decision? Is that what we tell guys? And his comment…
[…] Because you can’t tell someone to not brutalize women. Most men won’t do that, but if they do, you can’t say “hey, you know rape is wrong”. Most guys know that. The ones that don’t aren’t going to listen to a lecture.
The best we can do is say “look, some guys are assholes and you need to watch out for them.”
Now, you can tell boys that it isn’t OK to screw the drunk or hit women, but most guys aren’t going to do that anyway. But the problem for women is the guys that do and dealing with them.
I think women have a more idealistic view of men than men do. Chris Rock summed it up: “if a man comes up to you over the age of 13 and asks you if you want help, he’s saying ‘you want some dick with that?’
Women tend to resist the idea that most men size them up sexually. I can assure you that if there’s a boy in your daughter’s life and he’s a “friend”, he’s either not interested in her, or is just biding his time. But the idea of sex has crossed his mind.
The same applies to all your coworkers and opposite sex friends. If they’re straight, they have either thought about having sex with you or reasons why they shouldn’t.
But the issue is on the table.
Have you ever been out with a friend and then suddenly he got grabby or romantic and you didn’t expect it. Now, you might have written that off, but it happens because men rate women sexually, and that one time might be the time he actually acted on his feelings.
So when I say men will do anything for sex, I’m not just saying that. It’s observed behavior.
We continue to ignore the elephant in the room whenever we talk about sexual violence and prevention. We conveniently forget all about the perpetrator and focus on the [female] victim, and lecture them on why it’s all their fault. So much for those karate lessons and pepper spray–it’s still your fault. Gee, why don’t we just come out and say, “well if you didn’t have a vagina you wouldn’t have been attacked.” That’s the hint if you really think about.
What frightens you about giving up violence?
What are you afraid of losing?
What do you secretly like about violence?
How will sex change when there is no more violence?
What stories will you have to give up when you give up violence? what parts of your past will you have to release?
Why do you think ending violence is impossible?
Do you know anywhere in the world where there is no violence? describe.
Do you know anyone who truly lives non-violently? describe.
What is violence?
Where does it come from?
Do you believe violence is part of human nature?
Do you believe violence is taught?
What is the relationship of violence to patriarchy?
Do you think violence has to do with race, class, a particular place?
What would have to change in the world in order to end violence?
What would have to change in you in order to end violence?
What makes you violent?
What stops you from being violent?
Who has been violent towards you?
How did this change who you are?
Do you believe it is possible to end violence? why? why not?