18 October 2013

Blame, Inappropriately Directed

The heinous Maryville, Mo., rape case has reignited cultural tendencies toward victim-blaming.

Emily Yoffe, of Slate, admonished college women to stop getting drunk, citing a study showing that more than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol. One could reasonably assume that an equal or greater percentage of campus sexual assaults also involve men. Men are more likely rapists than women so, by Yoffe’s reasoning, women would be wise to avoid interactions with men.

But that’s not what she – or anyone else – is suggesting. Everyone knows that men, specifically, are not the problem any more than a few shots of PatrĂ³n are the problem.

How do we eliminate rape and rape culture? Certainly not by blaming victims or putting the onus on women to protect themselves.

It’s hard work changing a culture that values hyper-masculinity and treats women and girls as sexual property. It’s not so neat and simple as telling women to stop drinking, stop going out late at night, stop wearing short skirts. It takes courage to demand community accountability, and to change the cultural conditions that create rapists.

Media outlets may lack that courage, but the Ms. Foundation for Women stands strong in its belief that violence against girls and women can be made a rarity, rather than a shameful reality.

The first step requires treating rape survivors with dignity and respect rather than second-guessing victims' decisions surrounding their assaults.

Instead of “What did she expect to happen at one in the morning after sneaking out?” (as Fox News guest Joseph DiBenedetto asked about one of the Maryville victims), we should be questioning the motives of the perpetrators: “Didn’t they think twice about picking up girls late at night and sneaking them in through a window? Didn’t the boys know that alcohol would lower their inhibitions and cloud their judgment?”

And, especially, in reference to the prosecutor reopening the case: “What did the boys expect to happen when they raped these girls?”

Those are the questions no one is asking.

1 comment:

  1. How come we don't talk about what happened to the boys? Why are they violent against women? Who victimized them? My sense is while it's important to focus on the issue it's also important to explore it. There is no way someone wakes up or grows up and thinks one day they want to be a rapist.