In the course of organising SlutWalk Aotearoa, I am getting a lot of feedback – positive, negative, and downright trolling – regarding the purpose of the SlutWalk. One comment I’m getting a lot (mostly, though not always, from men) is the idea that victim blaming is “something ‘we feminists’ spout about even though it has no basis in reality”, or “a vague phantom idea no one really believes”.
It’s true, everyone. ‘We feminists’ pulled the idea of victim blaming by authorities and media out of our asses. We certainly imagined this article about the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl, which featured such choice quotes as: if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act? and “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.” Laura Flanders at Fair.org made up every newspaper article she quotes. I wish I’d invented the opinion of a jury in Sydney, Australia that acquitted a man due to their belief that it’s not possible to forcibly remove skinny jeans.
A transcript of a sentencing hearing for a convicted rapist shows the judge passing on a two-year home detention sentence (under a technicality, as a law passed in Canada in 2007 that meant convicted rapists have to be sentenced to a prison term, rather than home detention or other non-incarceration options – but the attack occurred before that law was passed) as the victim “was dressed in a tube top without a bra and jeans… wore high heels in a parking lot outside a bar.” The judge also commented that “although the complainant had rebuffed his advances in the backseat of the car, her demonstrated willingness on the gravel road to hold onto him and kiss him and pretend to like him could surely leave an impression that the door was then not closed to further sexual activity.” He concluded that “although the accused was led by the circumstances to conclude that sex was in the air, he was insensitive to the fact the complainant was not a willing participant.”
And these are just the articles I had bookmarked. There are many, many more examples of victims of sexual assault being blamed for their attack by the media, the police, a judge, a jury, their peers, and complete strangers who somehow feel they have the right to comment on a crime they know very little about.
But hey. Victim blaming is something ‘we feminists’ make up, right?