Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Rape as punishment

Echidne revisits the issue of rape victims "asking for it" by dressing provocatively, being drunk, promiscuous, etc.  This time after an Amnesty Int'l survey of British views on rape, which found that:
"more than a quarter (26%) of those asked said that they thought a women was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing, and more than one in five (22%) held the same view if a woman had had many sexual partners.

Around one in 12 people (8%) believed that a woman was totally responsible for being raped if she'd had many sexual partners.

Similarly, more than a quarter of people (30%) said that a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was drunk, and more than a third (37%) held the same view if the woman had failed to clearly say "no" to the man."
Our divine bloGoddess tries to draw a parallel between rape and a brutal mugging and then wondered if it was an effective analogy. Many feminists don't like it as it seems to perpetuate the "woman/sex as property/commodity" dynamic and downplays the added psychological trauma associated with sexual assault.  But I myself think it's an excellent analogy and is the one I prefer to use when the subject comes up.  Not perfect as rape is such a complex issue, but I do believe it's the most effective way to illustrate how hypocritical the "blame the victim" mentality is to folks who have never experienced it themselves, or are so self righteous and naive they think it will never happen to them.  So, some more analogies:
If a man were to go to a sports bar every Monday night and was very "promiscuous" with his money by buying the house a round everytime his favorite team scored, and got totally drunk and very friendly himself in the process... does that entitle other patrons of the bar to take him into a backroom, take turns beating the shit out of him and then each take $20 from his wallet?  What if he was dressed "provocatively" in a rival team's jersey?  By the logic of those who blame the rape victim, yes, yes it does.  He was asking for it. 
What about the very generous guy who routinely gives a handout to every homeless person he sees.  If some other homeless person knows he's an easy mark and asks him for a handout, but happens to be refused this time... does that entitle the rejected recipient from physically assaulting the good samaritan and stealing his wallet?  By the logic of those who blame the rape victim, yes.  Yes it does.  What do you expect when you "put out" willingly on a regular basis?
Or, to put it in the context of character.   What if you're a drug addict.  Or addicted to gambling and go blow your paycheck every week at the local dog racing track or Indian Casino.  Or you regularly drop a few c-notes down the g-strings of strippers at the local titty bar.   Obviously you don't value your own money and financial well being.  Why should society blame a potential mugger or ID/Credit thief for taking your money/good credit from you by force what you give up so willingly?  Why, by the logic of those who like to blame the rape victims, even brutal, potentially fatal physical force is justified apparently.
There is no excuse.  No justification.  No defense.  This mentality of blaming the victim needs to stop NOW.  And increasingly I'm convinced, the only way to do it is to steal the wallet or purse of anyone who is stupid enough to verbalize it. "you really think she deserved it, huh?  Where do you bank? Why do I ask?  oh, no reason... just having a friendly conversation...." 

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