Telling women how to potentially avoid being raped is not ‘victim blaming’.

rape culture


I’m sure the phrase victim blaming has been around for a fairly long time, but it certainly became extremely popular shortly after 2014. Twitter feminism (which I feel has now qualified as its own wave of feminism) is particularly fond of using the phrase “victim blaming”. They’re not wrong for using it – there is plenty of victim blaming slithering across both the cyber and non-cyber universe, even in 2016. I’ve heard it with my own ears, seen it with my own eyes, and continue to be disgusted by it.

However, as much as the phrase is correctly targeted at men (and women) who suggest to victims of rape or sexual abuse that it is somehow their fault, of recent, it’s being chucked at anyone who would dare to suggest basic safety measures to women .

Someone: Try not to walk around unaccompanied in secluded areas at late hours of night or early hours of morning.

Feminist: WHY ARE YOU VICTIM BLAMING?????!!! What about the women who come home from work at 3 am, do they deserve to be raped? What about women who have no friends or family to accompany them? Most women are raped by people they know!!!!RAPE HAPPENS BECAUSE OF RAPISTS!!!! KEEP YOUR ADVICE TO YOURSELF!

This is all a complete overreaction to the proposal of a basic, sensible safety measure. In no way did the person suggest that women who are raped alone or in secluded areas are responsible for the rape, in the same way that no one suggests that people who are mugged coming home fron the club are responsible for being mugged or that children who take sweets from a stranger are responsible for the paedophile’s behaviour. It’s actually a very simple and sensible thought process:

1)There are men who are rapists.

2) Most men who rape, rape people they know and it’s extremely difficult to do much to avoid this except by not ever being alone in a room with a man.

3) There are a minority of rapes that are committed by perfect strangers.

4)These strangers may be more likely to target you if you’re by yourself or somewhere secluded where you can’t get help because in Western society, men don’t generally rape women  in crowds.

5)Therefore, avoid secluded areas if possible and try where possible to be accompanied at tiems when there aren’t many people around.

6)If this is not possible due to a variety of circumstances, it’s still not your FAULT if you get raped, but where possible, it’s probably best to be as safe as you can while living your life with a semblance of normality.

I literally cannot fathom how a large number of otherwise very sensible people can miscontrue this thought process as victim blaming. Now, granted there are men and women who say inane and offensive things like “if you walk alone at night in a short skirt and you get raped, that’s your fault..why are you walking through alleyways in crop tops and minisskirts, that’s like walking through a crowd of hungry lions with an open box of KFC ..”. 

There is a clear difference bewteen the two lines of thinking, and if we conflate the two we’re in danger of confusing a commitment to equality with a type of hypersensitivity that only comes across as stupid.

I completely agree and understand the idea that rape SHOULD not be women’s problem  and that the focus should be on targeting men and changing the misogyny and rape culture that it is at the root of the problem. The same could be said of child molestation – the onus shouldn’t be on children or even parents to avoid paedophiles. We should be attempting to create measures to allow people with paedophilic tendencies to get the help they need before they commit a crime and by making sure that known paedophiles (who have commited or intend to commit a crime)  are kept far away from the rest of socety. But the honest truth is that there will always be rapists and there will always be paedophiles. There will always be creepy Pete down the road, or the seemingly upstanding politician who abuses his power to abuse unsuspecting children. There will always be the outwardly kind and gentlemanly man who date rapes, as well as the rapist who follows women in the early hours of the morning.  We live in an evil world, and in my personal opinion, it’s only getting worse.

No parent is going to refuse to warn their children about how to potentially avoid being molested because they might be ‘victim blaming’. Growing up, my Mum used to read to my brother and I a great book called ‘You can say no!’. It told the story of these two kids and the different adults they interacted with on a daily basis. There was the next door neighbour who invited them round for tea but told them not to tel Mum, their family friend who was safe and who always told their Mum exactly what they were doing and where they were going, the stranger who tried to get Tom to get into the car,and obviously Mum and Dad. I remember sitting on the edge of the bath and Mum asking me what I did if someone tried to touch me in away that I didn’t like .”I would kick him, scream and say “I DON’T KNOW HIM!”, and then run and find an adult I knew was safe”, I replied. She smiled at me. “Good girl”.

2 years later, it happened. An older man from church sat me on his lap and began touching my legs in a way I didn’t like. I told him I didn’t like it. He continued. And so I did what my Mum had taught me. I kicked him hard on the shins, screamed “I DON’T KNOW YOU!” (although obviously I did) and found my parents. It’s probable that nothing too bad would have happened. But its impossible to know. And I’m glad that my parents taught me how to assert myself  – it might have saved me from the unthinkable.

There were a recent string of sexual assaults in south Londoin. The police released information about the attacks and advised that the attacker was targeting women who were alone in the early hours of the morning, and that women should avoid walking alone in the early hours of the morning of possible. Were they victim blaming?

As a woman, I believe that regardless of the length of the skirt a woman wears, the alleyway she decides to hang out in alone, or the level of druken stupor she might drink  herself into, she is not responsible for the act of rape, the rapist is. And even though I don’t wear miniskirts, drink or hang out in alleyways  I don’t believe I am less deserving of rape. No one deserves to be raped. Nevertheless, as a woman, if there is any possible way, no matter how small, that I can do something that will increase my safety and decrease my chances of getting raped, I want to know about it. And I’m going to tell my friends. And that is not victim blaming, it’s basic common sense.

1 Comment

  1. February 18, 2016 / 5:37 am

    Totally agree with you. There are unfortunate incidents where someone gets raped and it’s totally not their fault but at the same time, we need to put measures in place just to protect ourselves. If someone told you don’t use that particular alley at night it’s unsafe, you need to listen to their advice. If someone told you don’t go into that house with that person he has a bad reputation with women, listen to their advice. In my country for example, you are adviced not to leave your drink unattended in a club or simply don’t leave it open. People have been dragged in the past. Men and women alike and been robbed or raped in their drugged state.
    So no, being adviced to take certain steps to reduce chances of something bad happening to you isn’t victim blaming.

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