Pardon the soapbox…

Please pardon this break from my regularly scheduled programming of fabric, quilts, and adorableness, but I feel like I need to hop up on my soapbox for a minute. You see, I was at a dinner party Friday night and certain events there are just tattooed on my brain right now. I am astonished that what I am about to say still needs saying, but apparently it does:

Rape victims are never at fault for being blamed.


The end.

You see, at said dinner party the topic came up because of a recent spate of sexual assaults on the local campus. One of the party guests offered the analogy of, “If you leave your door unlocked or get on the subway and leave your purse open you kinda have to expect to be robbed.”

Seriously? Seriously, seriously?

Do we still accept the notion that men just can’t help it? Do we still accept that women can’t walk alone at night, or go to a party, or wear whatever the hell they want without being partly culpable if they are sexually assaulted? I thought we had left the “But she was wearing black” defense long in the past.

But apparently I was wrong.

But, oh it gets worse. This same person offered a second analogy. “Imagine your daughter at eighteen, and she is walking across campus in a bikini and…” Yep, the old “Wouldn’t you kinda have to blame your daughter if she were raped” trick. Oh, wait, that isn’t a trick. That is simply disgusting. I thought we learned that this sort of question is simply vile back in 1988…

At that point I just left the party. Even now I can’t stop thinking about this, about the fact that people still find it reasonable, let alone acceptable, to blame victims of sexual assault in any way whatsoever, about the fact that people in positions of authority hold this belief and allow it to affect public policy.

Furthermore, on an intellectual level, I am disturbed that anyone even claiming to be a reasonable human being would find that sort of analogy permissible, but then we did just see a young woman publicly called a slut and prostitute for wanting insurance coverage for contraception. Engaging in family planning does not make this woman, or my dear wife, a slut or a prostitute.

I know rhetoric gets heated in discussions of charged topics, but this level of incivility, this gross negligence of other people’s basic humanity may well be what allows people to dehumanize victims of sexual assault and assign blame to them rather than their assailant, to believe than any woman or man could be “asking for it.”

So… there is my soapbox. While there is much young women, and men, can do to help protect themselves from sexual assault, that notion is a far cry from in any way blaming them for being assaulted. And the thing about that little slide in logic is that it is easy to make. That is why we, and I do mean everybody, need to speak out against such arguments, to not just speak out against sexual assault, but to make abundantly clear that rape in any form is a reprehensible act. It is also a crime, just as stealing from someone is a crime no irrespective of whether a door was locked or a purse was closed.

Yesterday, a friend game me a photocopy of this image. I hope for a day when this becomes the universal understanding of and approach to rape prevention…

Now to go trim some Washi blocks and try to get my mind off of this…


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16 Responses to Pardon the soapbox…

  1. 1
    Jamie Cooley says:

    Oh, that is terrible. You did the right thing leaving. The situation reminds me of a They Might Be Giants song called “Your racist friend.” You’d be a hypocrite to stay and let whoever is saying these things go on without anyone disagreeing. Wow, that probably wasn’t a good night. At least you have the Washi to get your mind off of it.

  2. 2
    Dan says:

    Here. Here.

  3. 3
    jill says:

    Yes. Definitely. Victims have a hard enough time not blaming themselves. So impressed that you were brave enough to leave. Hope they catch the perpetrator.

    And that poster is the funniest thing I have read in a long time. I love subversion.

  4. 4
    jodi meenan says:

    Simply: thank you!

  5. 5
    Pamela says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank. You.

  6. 6
    Megan says:

    It almost feels as if we’ve been moving back in time lately, doesn’t it? I thought we were far past this type of thinking in our society as a whole, but events such as this are a reminder, like you said, that we can never stop educating and speaking out.

  7. 7
    Martha Heidt says:

    I think that we as a nation have moved away from personal responsibility. Fault is the F word now. Someone else has to be blamed, certainly not the one who actually wronged someone else. I see this in so many little and big ways, and your experience on Friday attests to that.

  8. 8
    Carmen Wyant says:

    Right on Thomas. Unfortunately, stupidity cannot be bred out.

  9. 9
    Emma says:

    I agree. I will say that we do need to teach people better judgement in situations but, once something happens, do NOT re-victimize the victim. They’re already questioning why they did X (going out drinking as one girl with a bunch of guys, wear the clothes that they did, etc.) and every time you ask those same questions they will feel more and more like it was their fault. It wasn’t their fault that someone did whatever they did to said person, although sometimes we put ourselves in stupid situations for no reason.

    I don’t assume that people are out to get me, but I’m also the person who has a concealed carry license and/or carries a knife most anywhere I go. I avoid areas that seem sketchy if I’m alone at night not because I think someone WILL get me, but just in case someone with a problem is in there.

    …does that make sense?

  10. 10
    Katy says:

    Good grief, I’d have left the party too. I might have accidentally on purpose stamped on the guy’s foot on the way past too, you know, because it was his fault for leaving it lying there… (or perhaps I’d have gone for another anatomical part, but it would depend on access…)

  11. 11
    Colleen says:

    100% agreed. It is never never never the victim’s fault. Anyone who says it is is more at fault than the victim for perpetuating stereotypes and excusing abhorrent behavior of the creeps who abuse anyone.

  12. 12
    Mary Jo says:

    Holy lord.
    wonder what is in the background of that person that “he” thinks it is okay to say that.
    Thank you for getting on a soap box.

    And,certainly I agree that the use of birth control does not equal or even imply a moral lax, but I think people should be responsible and not rely on “them” or the “government” to provide,”

  13. 13
    Lyanna L. says:

    Thanks for taking a moment to get on your soap box and bringing attention to what should be common sense. It’s a shame that there are people who think like that in the world.

  14. 14
    Katie says:

    Hear, hear. Well said. And I agree–unless rational people talk about this issue, the outlandish and destructive rhetoric/excuse/vile victim blaming will continue and continue and continue.

  15. 15

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  16. 16
    peggy says:

    Thanks to Gail Kessler for sharing your opinion on facebook. I look back at my youth of many years ago and can say I was nearly a victim twice during my college years. It was not my fault! Thank you Thomas for getting on your soap box.

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