I believe a huge contributing factor to the scenarios where women blame rape victims at higher rates than men do is a mix of rape prevention advice and the reaction those who are raped or nearly raped get when they disclose. For too many survivors the first question they get is focused on what they might have done wrong such as, "What were you wearing?"
When people suffer horribly it is natural to look back and wish that you could have avoided that terrible suffering. This process of looking back for the causes of trauma is tainted for most rape survivors by the pervasiveness of focusing only on the victim as if the rapist's actions were non-actions sitting there passively like a patch of black ice.
Rape is too often accepted as a natural consequence of the victim's actions. When this dangerous error in thinking happens it opens the door to people believing that certain rapists shouldn't be viewed and treated as criminals.
The Daily Mail contains an article I was drunk, wearing a short skirt and agreed to go back to his house. Does that REALLY mean I deserved to be raped? by Jenni Murray which begins with:
As a young woman - I was 19 and a university student - I did what, on reflection, was an extremely stupid thing. I went with a group of friends to the home of a much older man.The problem with linking any of her actions or any of her choices even speculatively with her being responsible for her rape is that many of us who have been raped took similar actions and were completely safe. Her rape happened in 1969 and mine happened in 1974 so the attitudes and policies which allowed most rapists to be free from the risk of prosecution or the rightful label of rapist were similar.
I was wearing what my mother described, disapprovingly, as an extended belt, but what to me was just a fashionable mini skirt. We'd been drinking in the pub and carried on drinking at the man's flat.
She seems to reject the attitudes which contributed to her rape and her decision to tell no one about her rape even though these attitudes persist to this day. However, she seems to fall into the trap of believing that she and others around her would be safe from rape if only they avoided what she calls stupid decisions. This is not true.
All the violence I've experienced has come from those who were viewed by people around me as the lowest risk or who were the most respectable. The cause in her rape and my rapes were in the lack of ethics of our rapists. Some of us who have been raped are raped by those mothers warn girls about but others are raped by those even the victim blamers trust.
Clergy sexual abuse is a huge problem but going to church is never listed along with getting drunk as a dangerous contributory behavior.
After someone is raped non-stupid decisions are frequently transformed into stupid decisions in people's minds simply because they preceded that rape. Opening the front door to accept a delivery becomes a stupid decision if the person at the door holding a box is intent on rape. It becomes assumed that the person raped should have been able to detect danger in time to avoid being raped.
I always promised myself I would never turn into my mother, who would frequently say: 'Don't think you're going out in that', as the skirts in the Sixties got shorter. I believe we all have a right to wear whatever we choose, whether it's a mini skirt or a burka.While it is not a surprise that many societies continue a long history of making generic assumptions about a woman's availability, those assumptions have been and will always be inexcusable. It will always be negligent to make assumptions based on a girl or woman's level of sexualization whether those who are negligent are held legally accountable or not.
Sadly, I'm not sure that the highly sexualised society in which we live offers young people much of a choice. Children are lured into 'sexy gear' before they're old enough to be trusted to take a bus on their own. [...]
Is it a surprise that in such a society assumptions are made about a woman's availability?
Being lured into 'sexy gear' doesn't mean being lured out of having the right to not be raped. Anyone who makes decisions about their sexual actions based on assumptions about a woman's availability is making the decision that committing rape is an acceptable outcome. It's not good enough for someone to guess that their actions aren't rape because of the harsh opinion many people have about the girls and women they are making assumptions about.
Murray's rapist likely operated with the same mindset she is excusing. In the late 1960s it would be no surprise that assumptions were made about women's availability. It would also be no surprise that her attempts to stop her rapist before that rape was completed would be dismissed as not changing peoples belief that she was asking for it. Many people would have viewed her as paying the price for playing a dangerous game rather than viewing her as a crime victim.
I may, I'm afraid, have to concede that it's not a good idea to go out in the skimpiest of clothing, totter about in the kind of high heels in which you could never run to get out of trouble, get blind drunk and fall over in the street having first taken off your knickers - if you were wearing them in the first place.What is not a good idea is to view tottering in skimpy clothing or being falling down drunk or without knickers as the cause of rape. These in no way are the causes of rape. Men can and do choose not to rape when a woman could not protect herself from him and when many people assume that raping that woman doesn't count as a real crime.
Should the worst happen, you could hardly be surprised if a jury felt you had been guilty of a degree of contributory negligence and compromised your safety.
Again this attitude could apply just as easily back when Murray was raped. Only then she was likely assured that this attitude would be found in nearly every police station.
This quoted description by Murray makes rapists invisible. Instead of humans, rapists are "trouble." Rape isn't something one person inflicts on another, it is something that "happens."
Allowing a rapist to be less accountable because of opinions about the victim's choices encourages more rapes even if people don't intend to provide this encouragement and wish nothing other than to reduce the number of rapes.
If not being able to outrun a criminal equals being viewed with contributory negligence and compromised safety then a huge segment of most societies must never ever go outside alone or with people who might leave them alone.
In 2007 there was a trial of teens who mistook a woman unsteady on her feet from multiple sclerosis for being drunk and 2 of those teens raped her while the third acted as a lookout. This crime happened because of attitudes which Murray defends as unsurprising.
Those who reduce rapists accountability for any reason are the ones who are practicing contributory negligence. This negligence must stop immediately.