Victim Blaming & Women's Safety

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OpiateOfTheMasses
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Victim Blaming & Women's Safety

Postby OpiateOfTheMasses » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:13 pm

Saw this article on the BBC today and it got me thinking:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-45809169

Yes - in an ideal world women should be able to walk down dark alleyways late at night and listen to music and so on because they're not doing anything wrong, so telling them to take precautions gets some people up in arms that "we should be stopping men from attacking them" but when I was reading that I was thinking I'm a fairly big bloke and I avoid walking down dark alleyways late at night and I don't listen to music through head phones when it's dark and there are few people about because I'm concerned for my own safety and am worried about being attacked

Maybe I'm not concerned about being sexually attacked but I'm still concerned about being robbed or beaten up or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So I take "common sense" precautions.

(I grew up in Glasgow and have been jumped and bottled purely because I was walking near a football stadium late at night and some guys assumed I was a fan of that football club - I wasn't)

When they find out how to make everyone be nice to each other that will be a fantastic day, but in the interim I don't think that suggesting that people take "common sense" precautions is victim blaming. It just seems like common sense to me.

But maybe I'm in the wrong.
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Gendo
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Re: Victim Blaming & Women's Safety   Reply #1

Postby Gendo » Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:50 am

I think this is one of those things where something that should be ok to say can be made not ok due to cultural and historical context.

In a vacuum, saying "people should avoid being alone in a dangerous part of town late at night" is simply common sense, and nothing wrong with saying it. The issue is that society has a history of responding to sexual assault against females by finding things that they did wrong to cause it. Because of this, when you tell a woman "you should avoid being alone in a dangerous part of town late at night", it can be seen as victim blaming.

So there's nothing directly wrong with giving such advice... you just have to be conscious of the fact that similar types of advice have been often used to dismiss sexual assault against women, to make them feel guilty for it, and to give men a free pass in regards to it.

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Re: Victim Blaming & Women's Safety   Reply #2

Postby Anakin McFly » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:58 am

Relevant quote, from Jackson Katz:

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?

At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.' This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it.'

Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.

Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don't go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don't put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man's voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don't use parking garages. Don't get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don't use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don't wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don't take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don't make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.”


Women have been taught all that and more from young so as to avoid sexual assault. Yet sexual assault still does happen, and it's because of that whole litany of precautions that one immediate response is guilt - maybe they lapsed on doing one of those things, maybe it was one moment of carelessness, maybe they had a bad day and got drunk, maybe they could have prevented it if they had taken some other measure that they previously thought was excessive but would have stopped this assault, etc.

So the blame is already there, and the last thing the victim needs is additional blame or for men to suggest that maybe she should have taken some basic precautions. If something is common sense, women already know it, hence also making it condescending to suggest that they may be unaware. This is especially the case for sexual assault, which women are almost always on the alert for and especially prepared to protect themselves against. And yet those measures still fail. Women get groped walking down the street or standing on the train or sharing a lift; women get raped when wearing full length burkas; I read of a 15 year old girl who was digitally raped from behind while standing next to her oblivious family in a noisy crowd of strangers pressing against them on all sides; she was too stunned to react, and even if she could, there was no room for her to move, and it was too noisy for her to be heard.

Precautions probably work to some extent, but there is simply no way to avoid sexual assault completely, short of women removing themselves from public life altogether, and even that doesn't solve the problem. Additional precautions thus only further restrict women's freedom, sometimes to unreasonable degrees, without actually making them that much safer.

So the question is if there's a better approach to this problem, because telling women to be more careful hasn't been working. It's unlikely that this is something that will be solved any time soon, but it could inform how we bring up the next generation.

EDIT: a friend just reblogged this, which is relevant to how sexual assault risk is present in a lot of day-to-day tasks:
https://www.facebook.com/dawn.henke/posts/10101849181763571

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Gendo
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Re: Victim Blaming & Women's Safety   Reply #3

Postby Gendo » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:46 pm

Anakin McFly wrote:Relevant quote, from Jackson Katz:

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?

At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.' This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it.'

Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.

Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don't go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don't put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man's voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don't use parking garages. Don't get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don't use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don't wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don't take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don't make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.”


Women have been taught all that and more from young so as to avoid sexual assault. Yet sexual assault still does happen, and it's because of that whole litany of precautions that one immediate response is guilt - maybe they lapsed on doing one of those things, maybe it was one moment of carelessness, maybe they had a bad day and got drunk, maybe they could have prevented it if they had taken some other measure that they previously thought was excessive but would have stopped this assault, etc.

So the blame is already there, and the last thing the victim needs is additional blame or for men to suggest that maybe she should have taken some basic precautions. If something is common sense, women already know it, hence also making it condescending to suggest that they may be unaware. This is especially the case for sexual assault, which women are almost always on the alert for and especially prepared to protect themselves against. And yet those measures still fail. Women get groped walking down the street or standing on the train or sharing a lift; women get raped when wearing full length burkas; I read of a 15 year old girl who was digitally raped from behind while standing next to her oblivious family in a noisy crowd of strangers pressing against them on all sides; she was too stunned to react, and even if she could, there was no room for her to move, and it was too noisy for her to be heard.

Precautions probably work to some extent, but there is simply no way to avoid sexual assault completely, short of women removing themselves from public life altogether, and even that doesn't solve the problem. Additional precautions thus only further restrict women's freedom, sometimes to unreasonable degrees, without actually making them that much safer.

So the question is if there's a better approach to this problem, because telling women to be more careful hasn't been working. It's unlikely that this is something that will be solved any time soon, but it could inform how we bring up the next generation.

EDIT: a friend just reblogged this, which is relevant to how sexual assault risk is present in a lot of day-to-day tasks:
https://www.facebook.com/dawn.henke/posts/10101849181763571


Wow this is so good. Both the stuff you quoted and the stuff you said yourself. Excellently said.

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Re: Victim Blaming & Women's Safety   Reply #4

Postby Cassius Clay » Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:37 pm

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