You would think I would have learned by now to stay out of flame wars on Facebook. But this idea that somehow rape is ok, or that at least the woman is partially responsible for it, because she’s drunk, is just disgusting to me.
I was recently in a Facebook debate with a person kept insisting that it’s just like having something stolen, if you leave it unattended you’re partially responsible. That if women didn’t get drunk, they won’t get raped. Here was my response:
You keep talking about personal responsibility. So let’s talk about it. Let’s use your own scenario of your friend that left the laptop unattended and it was stolen. Your opinion is that she was somewhat responsible for leaving it unattended. I would say she was guilty of being a bit naïve and too trusting, but the person who is responsible for the theft is the thief. I teach my children that stealing is wrong. Stop, period, end. Not that stealing is wrong unless someone leaves their stuff unattended, then they are only 50% responsible for their own actions. Even if someone is naïve enough to leave valuables unattended, I am a good enough human being not to steal it from them. If I did steal it, I could not use “it was left unattended” as a defense in my trail. Because that’s not a defense. That’s the thief trying to shift blame.
And that’s what’s going on here with the “she was drunk” defense. You keep harping on the fact that women shouldn’t put themselves into a bad position. Certainly they shouldn’t. Do you think that I, as a woman, don’t know that? That I don’t spend more time that I ought to have to thinking up ways to protect myself and my daughters from men? Of course I do, of course you do, of course all women do.
But what you are missing with that argument are these two things:
1. That we shouldn’t have to. That argument right there is what we mean by “rape culture”. The notion that women, by failure to protect themselves from men, as at least equally responsible for their own brutalization. Rather than holding MEN accountable to be a decent human being and not rape, attack and brutalize a woman, even a drunk, defenseless one.
2. That even if you do all you can to protect yourself most of the time and you slip, you let yourself be human, even once, even one time you let your guard down, you forgot to be ever vigilante, and are attacked, then suddenly it’s your fault. Yes, even the most vigilant of us can slip, can forget for a moment that we must be ever vigilant. Relax, drink too much and enjoy a night with our friends, walk down that deserted street at night because my apartment is really close and I really need to get home, etc. No one can be 100% vigilante 100% of the time. A woman shouldn’t be blamed for not being superhuman and able to keep up the vigilance 100% of the time. Why? See #1.
The truth is that there are men out there who are predators. You can be the most vigilant and “good” person in the world and this can still happen to you. I believe that maybe it makes some women feel better when they can put some blame on the victim, for being in the wrong place, participating in parties, being drunk etc. because then they have the illusion that it can’t happen to them. But it can. It can happen in your own home. By shifting the blame to the victim it allows them to feel safer.
But shifting the blame to the victim also alleviates the personal responsibility of the man. Rape is wrong, period, end, stop. Even if a woman has been promiscuous and even if she’s passed out drunk, when a man rapes a woman, he is 100% at fault. He is the one we should be yelling about personal responsibility to. Not letting them off with a pass because the victim was drunk.