Blaming the victim is not always a bad thing

August 12th, 2011

I’ve been aware of the so-called Slut Walks for a while now.

Women around the world have been dressing in sexually-provocative outfits to protest a Toronto police officer who suggested one of the ways women can reduce their changes of being sexually-assaulted is to avoid dressing “like sluts.”

Many people see this as a classic example of “blaming the victim.”

And while I agree completely that a women who wears a short skirt does not “deserve” to be raped. I think we do people a disservice when we refuse to ever place any blame whatsoever on a victim.

Every day, cialis decease people make decisions that increase their likelihood of being victims. They build houses on the beach in hurricane zones. They get into cars driven by friends who have been drinking. They respond to emails from Nigerian lawyers.

When we refuse to attach any culpability to decisions like these, order we fail to discourage them.

If you break into a zoo at night and try to pet a Polar Bear, you bear some of the responsibility when he eats you.

If you flash thousands of dollars in cash at a drug dealer on North and 30th in downtown Milwaukee at three in the morning, you bear some of the responsibiltiy when he robs you.

And, yes, if you’ve been drinking all night and get into a car to go home with four men you’ve never met before, you bear some of the responsibility for what might happen to you then, too.

Don’t act like a victim and you decrease your odds of becoming one.

Entry Filed under: Observations

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chris from Racine  |  August 12th, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Well said sir.

  • 2. Elliot  |  August 12th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Thank you, Chris. I hope to see you at your beach house this August. ;)

  • 3. Chris from Racine  |  August 12th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I most certainly hope so! :)

  • 4. John Foust  |  August 12th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    There’s a flaw in your logic. Who gets to judge whether an outfit is too provocative? The perp, when they are inspired? You, afterwards? The jury, afterwards? You want to cut the perp some slack because they couldn’t resist an outfit? Exactly how does a “slut” dress?

    Or leave the outfit out of it for a moment. What about a person who is outstandingly attractive? They should be extra careful, moreso than someone who wouldn’t be judged as conventionally attractive?

    Or what about just the language – what’s the logical connection between a bared-skin outfit and a pejorative regarding someone’s sexual history? You want that to be the reason you can blame a victim a bit more?

    Do you think a burqa would be sufficient, or would the random glimpse of an ankle be too much provocation for a weak-willed rapist?

  • 5. Elliot  |  August 12th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Hmm, wonder what’s going on with the &hellip thing in our names?

    John, I pointed out I don’t think someone is “asking for it” if they wear a short skirt (or are pretty).

    I just think we shouldn’t make “don’t blame the victim” an absolute truth. Sometimes, the decisions a victim makes helps make them a victim.

    But I should make it clear that, in the case of one person harming another, a victim’s unwise behavior in no way EVER excuses the offender.

  • 6. John Foust  |  August 12th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    A police officer is in a very different position than you and me ruminating about what (in hindsight) might’ve caused and/or prevented an assault.

    So what do you want to mean by “blame”? I am reminded of the use of the word “theory”. In a science context, it means one thing; in a casual context, it means something suspect. Are you talking about legal responsibility? Are you talking about casual speculation of causation? What happens when that blurs?

    I mentioned the hellip here a long time ago. It is the “prefabricated ellipsis character (Unicode U+2026, Latin entity …”. In short, it’s supposed to render as an ellipsis, but for some reason, it’s not.

    Googling for HTML answers is sometimes difficult. It’s like googling for an answer about Viagra. You’re probably not going to find what you want very quickly.

  • 7. Nick  |  August 12th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Dave Chapelle put it this way…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OBPaenkxdg

  • 8. John Foust  |  August 14th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Or here’s another way to put it.

  • 9. Blaming the Victim —&hellip  |  August 14th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    […] found a blog, From Where I Sit — and a post, here, with this statement: Every day, people make decisions that increase their likelihood of being […]

  • 10. Roland Melnick  |  August 14th, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Starting down this path when talking in generalities about a crime as serious as rape is a treacherous endeavor. I never served on a jury panel for something like that, but I imagine jurors wrestle with issues such as those you bring up, Elliot. Doing so on a specific case is different than dealing in generalities.

  • 11. Dan  |  August 25th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Sam Kinison had a bit when talking about starving Africans living in the desert. Don’t give them food, give them suitcases to move out of the desert because nothing grows in the desert.
    He blamed the victim and Kinison was right.

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Being in a wheelchair gives you a unique perspective on the world. This blog features many of my views on politics, art, science, and entertainment. My name is Elliot Stearns. More...

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