I’m Not Blaming the Victim, I’m Just Saying It’s Her Fault: My reaction to bullshit victim-blaming Slate article

October 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

According to Emily Yoffe of Slate, a large and influential online news magazine, feminism has taught America’s young women that they should be able to drink as much as men, because Girl Power (what). As a consequence, more women are getting raped. Feminists, you should be ashamed of yourselves! Yes, of course, rapists are ultimately the ones who rape. That said,

we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

I don’t know how pointing to a victim and saying “you did this to yourself” doesn’t qualify as victim-blaming, but ok. Semantics I guess. So I’ll play along — let’s say young women heed this message. That they maintain the ability to be responsible for themselves (because everyone knows that so long as women are responsible for themselves, whatever that even means, nothing bad ever happens to them — it’s only the irresponsible women who are assaulted, harassed, and sexually victimized, those silly little short-skirt wearers). Then who are we supposed to blame WHEN YOUNG WOMEN KEEP GETTING RAPED, which is a funny thing that happens when you conflate the symptom, namely an obscenely high incidence of sexual violence committed against women, with the cause, namely a culture that objectifies and devalues women to such an extent that it is entirely accepted that men WOULD rape, because how could they not with all those irresponsible women lying around??

To her credit, Yoffe tries to try to keep things balanced, and quotes several experts.

“I’m not saying a woman is responsible for being sexually victimized,” says Christopher Krebs, one of the authors of that study and others on campus sexual assault. “But when your judgment is compromised, your risk is elevated of having sexual violence perpetrated against you.”

Now, I don’t want to sound like a racist, but [insert racist assertion here, say about “The Jews” or “The Blacks”]. Before you get any nasty ideas, let me reiterate: I’m not a racist. I’m not a racist because I said I wasn’t.

Which is essentially the argument here. Here I am, blaming victims, and holding victims up as an example for other women (“you don’t want to end up like HER, do you?”), but because I say I’m not blaming the victim, then I’m not. It’s fun to be the gatekeeper for linguistic meaning!

Oh and one more thing:

I’ve told my daughter that it’s her responsibility to take steps to protect herself. (“I hear you! Stop!”) The biological reality is that women do not metabolize alcohol the same way as men, and that means drink for drink women will get drunker faster. I tell her I know alcohol will be widely available (even though it’s illegal for most college students) but that she’ll have a good chance of knowing what’s going on around her if she limits herself to no more than two drinks, sipped slowly—no shots!—and stays away from notorious punch bowls. If female college students start moderating their drinking as a way of looking out for their own self-interest—and looking out for your own self-interest should be a primary feminist principle—I hope their restraint trickles down to the men.

You hear that, men? Wait for the women to make the first move. THEN you can stop raping. Glad we’re on the same page. But there’s more:

If I had a son, I would tell him that it’s in his self-interest not to be the drunken frat boy who finds himself accused of raping a drunken classmate.

Hmm, that doesn’t sound like DON’T RAPE YOUR CLASSMATES TIMMY. But apparently it’s the accusation of rape that’s the fucking tragedy. I mean, you wouldn’t want your son’s reputation sullied, would you? That would be horrible and so inconvenient!

In conclusion, I don’t think I could type the words “bullshit” or “gross” enough times to adequately capture the lack of facepalms I have to express even a modicum of the “I just can’t” which is, itself, inadequate.


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