Girly Thoughts

March 31, 2008

Just when you (and I) thought it was over, Victim Blaming, Part 4

Filed under: Gender,sexual assault — judgesnineteen @ 12:47 am

Somehow I totally forgot to mention one of the basics of anti-victim-blaming: rape usually isn’t about lust.  This belongs in D, as a refutation of why the men are sex-crazed beasts idea doesn’t work, or in Part 1, where I talk about why telling women to be careful doesn’t actually help that much.  But again, as long as you get it, it doesn’t matter if I mess up my own organizational system.

Have you ever been so horny that you wouldn’t have minded violating a person if it would get you laid?  Me neither.  (If you answered yes, you have some thinking to do.)  It takes more than just really really wanting sex to rape.  You have to either not understand rape (not know what kind of consent is needed, not realize that rape actually hurts people) and/or you have to have some other emotion going on, like anger and the desire to express power.  Makes sense, when you think about rape as a weapon of war and so on.  Not that that proves it, because there could just be several types of rape, but it makes sense together.

These people probably have their own issues and probably need help of their own, but the coupling of anger or power with sexuality looks to me like a symptom of our culture’s, and most cultures’, messed up characterization of what it means to be masculine.  When sex is described as nailing, screwing, hitting, banging, scoring, conquering, something is fucked up.  When men can’t express emotions in front of other men like love and sadness without being ridiculed or having to make up for it with anger or drunkenness, something is fucked up.  And we wonder why we have a rape problem.  “Oh, it’s probably because of the way girls dress.”  Yeah.  I bet.  (FYI: sometimes women who cover from head to toe get raped.)

When you understand the anger/power thing, you understand that dressing and acting modestly might not make a difference (I only add in “might” because I’m assuming some men direct their misogyny especially towards those they view as “sluts”, not for their irresistibleness, but for their denigrated status in patriarchy), and you understand that rape is not a compliment.  Some people think rape means the victim was sexually desirable because they think rape is just like regular sex except for the minor detail that someone didn’t consent, and this leads the real assholes among them to tell women they think are ugly that they would be lucky to be raped* (FYI: all kinds of unattractive people get raped), and it probably also leads a lot of people to have less sympathy for victims than they would if they knew better.

Remember, rape hurts.  Physically, emotionally, psychologically.  If it doesn’t hurt someone for some reason, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t really rape, but in general, it does an amazing amount of damage.  Rape survivors need support.  They often blame themselves and don’t need any help from you in feeling guilty, dirty, or wondering if it was their fault.  That’s not a law of nature, it doesn’t have to be that way, it’s the result of all this victim-blaming: our culture’s messages about rape make women (and men, but again, I’ll treat that more fully later) who have been raped afraid to speak up because they know they’ll be scrutinized and blamed, and it puts them in the mindset that they could have avoided it, they could have stopped it, somehow it’s their fault.  That’s psychological abuse, plain and simple.  By definition, no one asks to be raped.

*The idea that the compliment of a man saying you’re pretty should outweigh the injury and insult of rape is a whole ‘nother problem related to the message girls get sent that their worth is directly related to what people, and especially men, think of them, especially sexually.  This is great for our self-esteem.  Even better is when men turn around and make fun of girls for caring about their appearance too much.  Can’t win sometimes.



  1. The topic of a society’s definition of masculinity that means that men are not being able to properly express their emotions is a post on its own.

    ha. I’m glad you came back, because I checked your blog anyway, even when you said you weren’t gonna be updating for a while.

    Comment by Amelia — March 31, 2008 @ 1:13 am | Reply

  2. […] 4, 2009 by Hecate A post from Girlythoughts on the topic of rape to continue our theme from down below, but also to talk about […]

    Pingback by Not a “women’s” issue « Hecate of the Crossroads — February 5, 2009 @ 2:52 am | Reply

  3. I wrote a rape post and this one is in my suggested reading box. One of the things that is weird with our victim blaming is that we don’t apply it to other crimes to nearly the same degree. You know, its Kennedy’s fault he was assassinated. He didn’t have to dress like a target. And what was he doing in an open top convertible? He was asking for it.

    Comment by truthwalker — July 27, 2009 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

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