Shaming and Blaming

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It’s been interesting growing up and into a society that is learning how to be sensitive.  U.S. society is learning how to use language that doesn’t offend, to make laws that are inclusive of more people, and to understand those that are different than most of us.  It’s happening more slowly than many people would like, but it’s coming along.  There’s one area that constantly confuses me, however.

Rape culture.

It seems that no matter how many trends emerge, or how many studies are done, people continue to make the same mistakes in asking the wrong questions, blaming the victim, and generally displaying an inability to empathize in any way.  If you were dressed provocatively, you asked for it.  If you were out alone after dark, you should have known better.  If you’ve had sex with lots of men, what’s the big deal?  If you were drinking, you probably didn’t realize the signals you sent off.  If you can’t remember, how do know you didn’t want it?  You should have fought harder, you should have gone to the police, you should have screamed for help.

No one asks the man why he raped the woman.  No one questions what was going through his mind, or why he thought that was something he was allowed to do.  I think, in a manner of speaking, we already know all of that.  When we ask questions of the victim, we show everyone that we agree with those causes.  Men (especially young men), see that women get raped all the time, and there are lots of reasons it happens.  We, as a society, drill into people’s heads that sex is built for men.  They need it, and will go to extraordinary lengths to get it.  Women simply exist to accept or not accept the sexual advances of men.  They’re sexy beings built for sexy adventures.  They, however, don’t get to ask for sex or be excited about it.  Women are built to be loved by men.

When this story began to come out and develop, I was intrigued to see what would happen.  Here’s a public figure being accused by more than one woman of abuse in the bedroom.  He’s beloved, admired, and followed heavily.  Immediately people began asking why the women waited.  It doesn’t seem to have occurred to these people that bringing forth something so private and serious against someone who is well-known and liked could be incredibly intimidating.  He has money for lawyers and protection that most people couldn’t dream of.  In fact, one woman was a lawyer.  She still didn’t come forward.  As she explained “I was aware that I, as a woman who had had a drink or two, shared a joint, had gone to his house willingly and had a sexual past, would be eviscerated. Cultural frameworks on this are powerful.”

If a successful lawyer shies away from a case like this in her own life; there’s not much more to be said.  Victim-shaming and victim-blaming are immensely widespread trends.  People don’t even seem to understand that they’re doing it anymore.  Hopefully at some point this will become a big “trigger issue” that people want to talk about and work towards eliminating.  For now, the more we bring it up, the more people it reaches.


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