The responsibility gap - Prevention vs. Predation

Paul_D

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But how do we say reducing risk is assigning blame to a potential victim?
It's baffling. I remember a couple of years ago The Metropolitan Police, I think it was, ran a poster campaign warning women of the dangers they were putting themselves in by getting so drunk they either couldn't defend themselves or passed out and had no idea what was happening to them.

Furious women groups accused the police of blaming women for being raped and in the end the posters had to be withdrawn.

The burden of your own safety lies with you, the Police were trying to educate women that if they get so drunk they have no idea what is happening then they put themselves at greater risk, in the same way you put yourself at risk by accepting lifts off strangers, but no, women's groups had a knee jerk reaction, go the wrong end of the stick.

The rapists probably couldn't believe their luck, women's groups preventing women from being educated about the need to be more aware of the dangers they can potentially put themselves in. Baffling.
 

WaterGal

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What an awful situation.

The backlash against victim-blaming was not only well-intended but very much needed. But I have often thought the same: I teach defenses against knife attacks, but no one should be attacking a person with a knife. I teach defenses against being punched, but no one should be punching anyone. The extreme form of this line of thought effectively discourages people from taking sensible steps to stay safe in a world in which a frat has just been accused of a highly organized drink-drugging scheme. We can mix isn't your fault" with "There are bad actors out there and you don't want to be one o ftheir victims" in a sensible way.

Agreed, very much. I do understand the backlash, but think that some people do go too far with it.

It's important, I think, to emphasize that no matter what happens, if you're attacked, it's always the fault of the attacker - but that at the same time, there are things you can learn and practice to help you avoid or fight off that attacker. If you make a bad choice, that doesn't mean you deserved it or it was your fault, any more than if somebody breaks into your house and kills you it was your fault or you deserved it for not locking your windows. It's always the criminal's fault, and always a crime. But there are ways to make it less likely that a criminal will attack you and to help you survive an attack, and they're good things to learn.
 

WaterGal

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Unless you said "it's a bad idea for a woman to get drunk, then wander unarmed through bad neighborhoods"; then, you're accused of victim blaming rather than recognizing that the victim's actions contributed to the situation. There's a whole industry devoted to the idea that we should "teach men not to rape" rather than provide women with the tools to recognize bad situations and to avoid them.

Until we quiet that group, there will be too many people who decide to play in the land of slut walks and "I should be able to..."s, and they'll block and fight tooth and nail against any attempt to suggest that a victim might do something to reduce the chances of being raped.

Well, ideally, we should have both approaches. It's important to change our culture, to make it very clear to young people (and older people, for that matter) what is and is not consent, and to make sure there are actually serious consequences for sexual assault/harassment/etc that are consistently enforced.

We can say "women shouldn't walk down a dark street drunk in a bad neighborhood" till the cows come home.... but like you say, most rape is not a stranger jumping out at you from a dark alley. Usually it's someone that you know, often someone you trust, often in your home, in all kinds of neighborhoods, at all hours. So that advice, while it has a place, is also of limited value. The most common rape scenario, IIRC, is your spouse/partner raping you in your home.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't teach self-defense, though. That's important, too. It does need to be reality-based, though, and take into account things like, for example, that you're not likely to be willing/able to gouge your husband or friend or boss or uncle's eye out even if he's hurting you.
 

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