Slut-shaming. Victim blaming. Whatever you want to call it, it’s pervasive in our society’s mindset and it needs to change asap if we’re to avoid damaging another generation with sexist, degrading and overall harmful accusations. The act of victim blaming has been hot in the media recently with the release of hundreds of celebrities’ naked, private photos on 4chan by anonymous hackers. The general consensus seemed to be that if you didn’t want your naked photos to be plastered over the internet for all to see, you shouldn’t have taken them in the first place. It lays all the blame squarely at the victim’s door and completely ignores the fact that this is a crime, a breach of someone’s privacy and the focus should be on bringing the perpetrators to account and preventing this from happening again.
This mindset, unfortunately, isn’t a new one. Only recently I read a story featuring the EU’s nect digital head, Günther Oettinger, who was quoted as saying; “If someone is dumb enough as a celebrity to take a nude photo of themselves and put it online, they surely can’t expect us to protect them. I mean, stupidity is something you can not – or only partly – save people from.”. It’s good to know that these people in positions of power have their opinions straight. This is just the most recent case in a long line of turning horrific situations on their heads to put the onus of responsability on the victims and ignoring the potential causes that prompted people to violate these women’s privacy and personal lives.
You might be familiar with the SlutWalk movement and the marches that happened all over the world last year, as a reaction to the words of Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer who suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution against sexual assault. The message of the walks is essentially this; I could be walking down the street in my underwear, this would still not be consent, this doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you, my body is my own and I’ll dress it how I like. MY BODY DOESN’T GIVE CONSENT. I DO. It’s evidence of a new generation of women and men who aren’t ready to accept the old status quo. It’s been so widely accepted for such a long time that women need to do everything possible to prevent themselves from being in a situation where they could potentially be sexually assaulted. The outcome of victim blaming is a whole group of young people too afraid to speak up about their experiences while they wallow in guilt, thinking they should have somehow prevented their assault. This is highly damaging, as you can imagine.
All women go out knowing not to leave their drink unattended, not to go off on your own in an area you don’t know, this is common sense. Taking sensible precautions isn’t the point, we’re all very familiar with these rules, it’s the fact that nothing is being done on the other side of the debate. Teaching what constitutes sexual harrassment and when to bugger off. You’d think this would be instinctual but nope, doesn’t seem so. Fostering a culture of respecting a womans right to her own body and to say no. And to have that no be taken seriously. No doesn’t mean convince me, try harder or buy me a drink and i’ll think about it. Women don’t owe you anything, so but that’s the brutal reality. These are all important steps in the right direction.
As a uni student this brand of persuasion in bars and around campus is certainly familiar to me. No one aims to go out and get totally trashed and not remember anything, but they should be able to go out and have a drink with friends without being afraid of being spiked. Obviously, you have to take basic precautions to ensure your own safety, never take a drink you didn’t see being made in front of you and then don’t leave it alone and come back to it etc… it’s the blaming of rape victims who’ve no doubt taken all these precautions, were in no way ‘asking for it’ and the complete obliviousness to the perpetrator that I object to.
Check it out. Pretty much sums it up.
But could there be change on the horizon? The University of California has been the first to take serious action against the pretty awful reputation of campus safety for young women, with a ‘Yes Means Yes’ campaign, the way towards rape prevention in the future? Sounds pretty good to me! Give it a read here: