[LMB] OT: Victim blaming, was: Betan population control

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Thu Jun 6 19:43:46 BST 2019

TW: rape

---- On Thu, 06 Jun 2019 10:21:38 -0700 Eric Oppen <mailto:ravenclaweric at gmail.com> wrote ----

Personally, I am not fond of the term "victim-blaming."  All too often, 
"victims" become victims partly through their own foolishness.  That is why 
we call some behavior "risky" behavior---you're taking a chance.

Beatrice Otter:

Yeah, some behavior is riskier than others.  But I am personally fond of putting more blame on the person who committed the crime than the person who was a victim of it.  And in my experience, nine times out of ten, when somebody starts focusing on any bad behavior the victim may or may not have done, they are doing it to let the perpetrator off the hook.  Maybe getting drunk at that party was a bad idea ... but that doesn't change the fact that the rapist should not have raped.  If you left your car door unlocked while you went into the store, and someone stole it, that would be risky behavior too, and stupid.  But if you were fortunate enough that the thief was caught, nobody would say it wasn't really theft because the door was left unlocked, or because the owner was stupid, or that the thief deserved a lighter sentence because of the owner's risky behavior.  Yet when it's rape, we fall all over ourselves to find reasons to justify it.

Not to mention the fact that a woman can do everything "right" and still get raped and still get dragged through the mud.  I know a case where a woman got raped in her own home.  She never went out and partied, she had no boyfriends, she didn't hang out with abusive assholes, she didn't drink or use drugs, she worked and she volunteered and she came home and took care of her daughter.  That was her life.  One night, while they were sleeping, three guys busted her door down and were on top of her before she was even fully awake.  When the cops came, they assumed that she must have done something and refused to investigate.  Despite the fact that the door had been kicked in, they assumed that she had been partying with them and that she had kicked her own door in to make herself look innocent.  They did not interview the nurse who examined her and did a rape kit, but they wrote on their report that the nurse had said the sex was definitely consensual.  (It was really obvious that they didn't even try to talk to the nurse because the nurse they "quoted" in their report hadn't even been on duty that night.)  In what should have been a textbook case of innocent victim who did absolutely nothing wrong, they STILL assumed that it was the victim's fault.  Because they were used to victim-blaming.  Because their usual response to rape was to examine the victim to find reasons why it was really their fault, instead of investigating the alleged rapist to see if they were a rapist.  (The rapists were eventually found and convicted; in the time it took the victim in this case to get the cops to actually investigate, which involved lots of pressure on the city council and her name getting dragged through the mud in the papers and her kid getting hell at school, the group of guys raped three other women and killed one.  If the cops had been more focused on solving the crime and less on assuming it didn't happen, they probably could have caught the criminals before they struck again.)

I can see why some people don't like to talk about victim-blaming.  (I mean, some good and decent people; obviously the perpetrators LOVE it when they can blame the victim, but there are legitimate reasons, too.)  But I hope you can also see why I get upset that the result of talking about "maybe blaming the victim is okay when they genuinely did stupid and risky things" is usually that perpetrators get off scott free or with reduced sentences.

Eric Oppen:

In my own case, if I am a victim of anything, it's a concatenation of 
circumstances, many of them completely unforeseeable.  And I've said 
repeatedly that getting me out of this town and into a job I can reasonably 
count on not to vanish unexpectedly under my feet would help enormously.  I 
tend to gain weight when I'm stressed, and between dealing with 
mentally-ill relatives and having the Money Monkey always on my back, my 
life has been Stress Central for far too long. 

Beatrice Otter:
This is often the case in a variety of things people get blamed for.  Some of the circumstances are under your control, most aren't; people can look at you from the outside and say what you should have done instead but it isn't so simple when you're in the middle of it.  For weight specifically, our society has a very unhealthy idea of what a "healthy" weight is; people with a bit of padding tend to live longer, healthier lives than skinny people, or people with lots of muscle but no fat.  If you look at men in the movies, especially action movies, where they're so ripped, the only way to achieve that physique is with an insane level of effort regulating pretty much every aspect of your life (not just what you eat and how much, but when) and with a personal trainer and a dietician working with you for hours every day.  And even then, it requires you to do stuff that is actually bad for your heart and other organs.  If you look at women in magazines and on TV, the work needed to achieve the "ideal" body type is a little less intense, but still not good for most people; and yet, we hold both of these very unhealthy things up as the ideal of health.  And shame people the further away they get from those ideals.  It's not about what's *actually* healthy, it's about what you can bully people about.

The other thing about victim blaming is that it's usually designed to make the person doing the blaming feel better about themselves by tearing the other person down.  She did risky behavior, therefore she deserved it, and I don't have to worry about myself/my wife/my daughter because we/they are Good and Nice and wouldn't do stupid stuff like that.  She did risky behavior, therefore she deserved it, therefore my friend/guy I look up to isn't a rapist.  That person should eat less/exercise more, so I can bully them about being fat and it's not really bullying, I'm just trying to help them be healthy.  When you get right down to it, victim blaming is usually about using the victim as a punching bag to make yourself feel better.  Which sucks and is wrong.

I wish we lived in a world in which we could talk about risky behavior and things like that without it being used as a shield and justification for everything from bullying to protecting the perpetrator, but alas, we do not.  And if somebody's behavior has to be excused, personally I would MUCH rather excuse the victim than the perpetrator.

Beatrice Otter

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