Why are we still victim-blaming?
April 19, 2013
As participants in the Monmouth College Slut Walk, we marched to end victim blaming (the practice of blaming victims for their own sexual assaults); when we read the previous Letter to the Editor response to “Meat Is Murder,” we were shocked by the response that furthered rape culture among out peers and classmates. We wanted to address some of the arguments made and present some statistics about sexual assault and rape in our society.
The first problem that we would like to discuss is the metaphor in which women being raped is compared to cars being stolen. Human beings cannot be accurately compared to inanimate objects because human beings have complex emotions and personal rights. Comparing women to cars is objectifying women and demeaning their value, which is a problem in and of itself. By objectifying women and blaming them as victims, this argument is furthering the belief that women are “less than human” and therefore have less than human rights.
A common belief is that women are more likely to be raped when drinking and hanging out in a mixed crowd as suggested by the previous Letter to the Editor. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), 66% of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim; on a college campus, that statistic rises to between 80 and 90%. It does not seem right that people should have to avoid the company of the other sex when they drink in order to ensure that they won’t be raped. It would be unrealistic to suggest that people can only hang out with their own gender. To say that either gender lacks the self control to not rape the other gender is to insult them and question their morals.
Next, the argument that drinking and clothing increase the chance of sexual assault ignores the reality of rape. While rapes sometimes involve alcohol, it is not always the case. It is common for rape to occur when no alcohol is present. For instance, I have a friend who was raped after working out at gym with a friend. Alcohol was not a factor in the assault and neither was clothing, as she was wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt. To say that people bring rape on themselves because of how they dress, act, or drink, takes responsibility away from the rapist and makes it the victim’s responsibility.
Some would say that rape victims should just report their sexual assaults, and then, the rapists will go to jail. However, according to RAINN, out of every 100 rapes, only 46 are reported. Only 3% rapists spend a single day in prison, and the other 97% walk free. These statistics cause victims to feel that there is no point in reporting the crime. It is also common for the victims to face serious backlash for reporting the rape. This can clearly be seen through the threats made against the victim of the Steubenville rape case.
Lastly, it is important to keep blame off of the victims’ shoulders because they already face so much turmoil because of the assault. Following sexual assault, victims are 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. The rape culture that blames victims perpetuates these negative experiences for victims. Rape survivors should be supported and believed rather than blamed and questioned.
Rape is never the victim’s fault. The responsibility for the attack lies completely with the perpetrator. The answer to the societal problem is not to tell women not to get raped but to tell people not to rape and educate them on what constitutes rape and sexual assault.
Bev Kruger and Katie Struck