We’ve talked a lot about the need for allies when it comes to public sexual harassment and assault. While some of the focus has been on ways to bring more men in as allies and bystanders, it is equally if not more important that women stop re-victimizing one another. We hear victim blaming among women often when women say things like, “don’t wear that tank top”, “don’t wear a skirt that short,” “you are too nice”, “you are to flirty”, “you should not have been walking alone”, “don’t get so drunk”. You get the point. We all hear these statements from the women around us, and sometimes, even our friends.
This week, a British study revels that while both men and women take part in victim blaming attitudes, women tend to be much harsher than their males counterparts. In a survey of more than 1,000 people, an astounding 54% of women believed that victims where at least partially responsible for their own rape. One third of these women blamed victims who dressed provocatively or went back to the attacker’s house for a drink. While 71% of women believed that the victim should accept responsibility if they got into bed with the rapist compared to 57% of men. It seems that victim blaming attitudes are even more prevalent among younger women. The 18-24 group of women surveyed were most likely to believe that engaging in a conversation or accepting a drink makes them partially responsible
Further, the study found that one in ten individuals didn’t know if they would report being raped and 2% said they would not. The main reasons for not reporting included feeling embarrassed or ashamed, and wanting to forget the rape happened. With victim blaming attitudes as the norm, it is easy to see why sexual harassment and rape are such unreported crimes.
We challenge all of you who read this to stop victim blaming by pushing yourself and those around you to question they way we think about victims. When you hear someone else blaming a victim of public sexual harassment, assault, or rape, hold them accountable to what they say and challenge them to think about their attitudes.
Tell them that no matter what someone wears, where they go, or how drunk they get, they do not deserve to be harassed, assaulted or raped.