Re-post: But why shouldn’t she take some responsibility too for the rape?

Image credit here.

In honour of the Slut Walk happening in parts of Australia at the moment I am re-posting this piece, which orginally appeared here on blue milk.

TRIGGER WARNING – graphic description of rape.


I am going to assume the person who left this comment on my post Don’t get raped is a man:

When it comes to any kind of crime, I think it is important to make a distinction between blame and responsibility. In all cases all of the blame belongs to the perpetrators. However, in some cases, some of the responsibility can also be put on the victim.

If a man goes alone through an area of the city at night and gets mugged, I would give him none of the blame, but some of the responsibility (He’s not at fault for doing what he did, but it was at least somewhat irresponsible of him to do so).

If a girl gets so completely drunk that she can not take care of herself and she ends up being raped, I would give her none of the blame, but still some of the responsibility (She’s not at fault for doing what she did, but it was at least somewhat irresponsible of her to do so).

Everybody knows the world is not perfect, and that there are situations we should avoid getting ourselves into. And writing that the situation in question could have been avoided if she had been drinking less could help remind people to be careful not to get too drunk. Perhaps it can even help avert a few situations like this in the future?

I am going to assume that you’re a man and that you’re basically a good person but that you just doesn’t have a fuckin’ clue what it is like to be a woman. So get this..

Imagine we meet in a bar and you make eyes at me. Imagine I smile back at you. We get talking and you buy me a few drinks. We drink and we flirt. I introduce you to the friends I came with and you make them all laugh with some of your jokes. You start to feel pretty good about yourself. Then you find out we’re all planning to go back to my place for a few more drinks and you’re damn pleased when I invite you back too. You think you might get lucky here. And you’re right. We go to my bedroom and close the door leaving my friends  smirking behind us. But when we’re done and you’re lying back with your head spinning from the alcohol and the smokey room and the exertion who should slip into the room but my boyfriend. Now he just heard us having sex and he saw you picking me up at the bar and he assumes from all that that you’re the kind of guy who is up for anything. So now he rolls you over and holds you down. Why shouldn’t he? You’re drunk and you’re naked and if you were up for sex with me then why not with my friends too? Maybe you’re such a guy that you think you’d manage to fight him off somehow – throw a few punches, kick free in this situation. Maybe you think you could convince him to be reasonable, that you’re not into this kind of stuff. But then four or five of his mates enter the room; you can’t tell for sure how many because you’re lying on your stomach and feeling pretty sick right now. They all think they’ll have a shot at you. You might still think you could fight them off but I wonder how you’d go with that. What if they’re filming you on their mobile phones and laughing while they touch you? What if you know this video could end up anywhere and you’ll never, never live this moment down? What if they ridicule you because you might even have started crying in frustration by then and perhaps you wet yourself, being so drunk and struggling to get free, and what if they tell you that you should really keep yourself in better shape? (The possibilities are endless here for just how degraded and violated you could feel in such a situation. Defeated too. In fact the next time you’re reading a newspaper report on a rape try changing the gender of the victim and seeing how it feels). So maybe then you size it all up and think you’re better off not getting beaten to a pulp by five or six men and that you should just stay as still as you can until it is all over. Maybe the alcohol has really hit you by now and you’re starting to black out anyway.

Now as a man* the assumption is that you don’t generally want to be fucked by other men, especially not like that. So you know that if shit like that went down we would recognise the crime for what it was – rape. How could getting drunk or laughing with some new people you met or even having sex with someone possibly mean that you automatically wanted to have sex with five or six other people not of your choosing? But for women it is not like that. For us the assumption is that we were somehow asking for it unless we met some kind of endless test of resistance. Were we sober enough, dressed appropriately, virginal enough, not too flirtatious, did we say no loudly enough, did we explicitly say that we are not into gangbanging, because if we weren’t entirely specific about that point well then how were they to know – they couldn’t possibly tell by the way we just froze up in fear?

You say why don’t we put some responsibility on women for ‘getting raped’ but the problem is that we already put too much responsibility on women. That’s the fucking problem. And ultimately she can’t ever completely safeguard herself against rape because rapists exploit situations where they can seize power over someone else, which was pretty much the whole point of my previous post. And believe me if it is one thing women don’t need more reminding of it is that we could get raped. We already got that memo, loud and clear. The only thing women need reminding of is that it isn’t our fault. And if we are going to use court reporting to send out public warnings to try and “help avert a few situations like this in the future” then shouldn’t we be sending the message of responsibility to the men who actually rape and not their victims?

It is not a perfect world, as you say, but while we’re wondering why 17 year old girls can’t be a little more cautious let’s also wonder why men can’t be a lot more decent. Rape stops when rapists stop raping.

*Unless you are gay or trans in which case you’re probably seen as asking for such brutality too, just like women.

Categories: gender & feminism, language, law & order, media, violence

Tags: , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. Thank you so much for reposting this. This is the core of rape culture – the idea that women somehow, inadvertently manage to be irresistable temptations.
    We know that most men can succesfully resist those temptations of vulnerable situations. Our society needs to stop excusing the ones who claim that they cannot.
    The law, as written, already does not excuse those who take advantage of vulnerability. Social mores have not necessarily caught up with the law, which has a sad impact on jury decisions regarding complaints of rape. For me, SlutWalk is advancing the conversation/awareness regarding sexual consent and non-consent. This is a good thing, yes?

  2. Yeah…in Keating’s Redfern address he says something like ‘This is the core of our failure. Our failure to imagine these things being done to us’.
    It staggers me how little people really imagine what it might be like, in any situation of suffering. I’m not trying to suggest that mere ‘putting yourself in the shoes of’ is sufficient (nor am I trying to minimize what was systemic genocide – I’m not drawing an analogy between brutal sustained genocide and a rape, I’m suggesting that it’s the same failure that props up different oppressions and violences). But when you put it *just that bluntly* I really wonder: JUST HOW MANY MEN have thought this through. And it’s the daily fucking reality for me as a woman. I hang my clothes out at night sometimes and I imagine: if I got raped now someone would say ‘God, couldn’t she have left it til MORNING?’. So while it seems like a blunt instrument I really want to stand in front of every man, holding a copy of your post and say ‘READ IT!!!!’
    (I *wonder* just how many people get this because once I heard someone ask why Indigenous Australians couldn’t just ‘get over it’ so I played out a ‘Let’s imagine…’ scenario for them and they were like “Wow. Never thought of it like that” and I was like BUT HOW COULD YOU NOT??? I just assumed everyone would out of basic humanity)
    Yes: I understand there are issues around SlutWalk but I do think that that discussion is really important tigtog, and it really *does* get everyone talking. Every time I hear someone say ‘But does it have to be called SlutWalk? I hate that word’ I get to say ‘I would NEVER EVER use that word against someone: but that’s the point here, it seems that if we get raped we get called a slut and THAT is horseshit so when you have masses of women marching in a SlutWalk in solidarity to say a woman NEVER EVER EVER invites/causes/asks for/provokes rape you really expose the ugly underside of rape and the word ‘slut’ and all of the damage it does’.

  3. Sorry, just an addendum, that I want to recognise that rape WAS (and is) such a massive part of the genocide in Australia.

  4. I think something just clicked for me. I’ve been fretting for weeks about the MSM’s seeming attempt to work so hard to to find op ed writers who will completely miss the point of Slutwalk and protests against rape culture, and wondering how to make the real message clear enough to be heard. We have been saying “we need to stop telling women not to get raped, and start telling rapists not to rape”, but the instinctive response for many people is “no one who would otherwise commit a crime has ever decided not to because someone told them crime is bad.” So can we shift the message from “tell rapists to stop raping” to “tell everyone to stop letting rapists think they have our support”? Which I think is the actual message of the current protests, but is getting buried.
    The Curvature’s “That guy thought you were on his side” post, of course, has already looked at this, as Bluemilk also has. But I’m trying to distill down to bumper-sticker level.

  5. But I’m trying to distill down to bumper-sticker level.

    Completely OT, You know, that line could be used as such a great insult. I’m pitching a giggle fit imagining using it on the next troll I encounter.

  6. Speaking of pithy epithets, have any of you Sydney hoydenizens decided on your placard slogans for the march yet?
    orlando: how about “When you blame the victim, you support the rapist”?

  7. Ooh, I like that.

  8. Victim blaming = Rapist supporting.

    Watch heads explode as they read that!

  9. Or maybe:
    Rapists feel good when you blame the victim

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