Wednesday, March 11, 2015

People Who Accuse Others of Victim-Blaming Are Demeaning Women

Victim Blaming: Accusing someone on the receiving end of some calamity to be responsible for its occurrence. 

ex: "Telling women not to put themselves in situations where they might be sexually assaulted is blaming the victim. The only thing that causes rape is rapists."

Often heard from: feminists, "social justice warriors," change advocates of various kinds that are commenting on violence or gender related issues.

Please see my treatise on why this argument is only half true, and ultimately hurtful despite its being (maybe) well-intentioned: Treatise: Third-Wave Feminism's Irresponsibility Double-Standard

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So how does accusing someone of "victim-blaming" demean women?, I'm sure you're dying to know.

I'll answer. But first let me clarify that it's certainly possible to be legitimately at fault for blaming victims, which is wrong.

Scenario A: "She should have known better. By getting wasted drunk around a bunch of frat guys, she brought this on herself."
Verdict: Victim Blaming. Disgusting assertion that she's responsible for someone else's sins against her.

Scenario B: "Rapists bear the full responsibility for their own actions. Even so, it's wise to be aware of risks and take action to mitigate your exposure to them. Please consider the way you dress, the people you socialize with, whether you walk alone, whether you carry mace/air horns/a gun, and whether you overtly sexually entice men around you, as ways to help protect yourself."
Verdict: Not Victim-Blaming. You can take action to protect yourself without implying that you're responsible for what others do to you otherwise.

And yet, this is often attacked as "blaming the victim" by feminists in online fora. I submit that this could be because the feminists a) really have no clue how to solve the problem and don't want to believe that they can fix it because that makes them feel uncomfortable and morally conflicted, and b) really resent men and want all the attention and responsibility to be theirs (men's).
  1. Teaching someone how to drive is not blaming the victim if they are involved in a car crash.
  2. Police officers wearing bulletproof vests are not blaming the victims of homicides for their gunshot wounds.
  3. Teaching wilderness survival, gardening, hunting etc doesn't "blame the victims" of famine, starvation, or those who die of thirst or exposure to the elements.
Giving someone tips for how to protect themselves from getting hurt is not asserting that they are responsible for undesirable outcomes, when something happens that hurts them, which are out of their control.

Now that that has been emphasized, there are some direct consequences of this.

When someone discusses rape prevention in the vein of scenario B above, and someone responds to accuse them of "blaming the victim," then that person is actually demeaning women and promoting sexist attitudes that contribute to rape.

Say whaaat? Let me guide your thinking:

Paradigm shift 1
Taking away someone's responsibility takes away their ability. Taking away their ability takes away their power to effect change. Taking away their power takes away their freedom of choice, and makes them helpless victims of circumstance, at the mercy of their abusers.

This is what denying women their right to prevent rape (by denying that they have the ability or responsibility to protect themselves) accomplishes.

Paradigm shift 2
By asserting that rapists are the sole factor in rape**, advocates are denying the woman's responsibility over herself. By denying her responsibility, they assert that women are incapable of doing anything to protect themselves that might actually decrease the chances of getting raped. This makes women out to be defenseless. This view is sexist because it portrays women as weak and ineffective compared to men, who always get what they want because they alone have the power and are the sole determinant of what they will be able to do.

Paradigm shift synthesis
Taken together, the logical conclusions of accusing "scenario B men" of "blaming the victim" is the promotion of the belief that women are incapable, and men are capable. That women are irresponsible, and men are responsible*. That men can rape, but women cannot stop rape. That women don't have the freedom of choice, to choose their own destinies, in the context of whether they will be raped or not. That women are victims, and that men, by contrast, must be victors. That women are helpless and defenseless and at the mercy of the decisions that men make. That men get what they want, when they want it, from whom they want it. The buildup of all these contrasts encourages the subconscious prejudice in both men and women to see women as weak and inferior and men as strong and superior. It is the very epitome of sexism.

Therefore, though promulgated in the name of feminism and the defense of women, any attacks against the character or motive of a man, or the impact of his statements, if he encourages women to seek to protect themselves from the sort of men who would take advantage of them, nevertheless has the effect of PROMOTING SEXISM.

Feminism = sexism. Against women, no less. I could not be clearer.

Women, think twice about attacking any man that disagrees with you about some issue that touches on gender relations.

Men, take courage, and be careful to make sure you speak wisely on this issue. Sexism rules on "both sides," and it is your responsibility, as someone who seeks to honor woman, to fight against the things that hurt her even when it's what she believes with all her heart to be in her best interest.

~ Rak Chazak

* note the equivocation in these terms. It's nevertheless the impact of using these words without clarification and therefore the conclusion is sound.

** Rapists are solely responsible for their choice TO rape. But rapists don't exist in a void and strike at random. This is evidenced by the fact that most rape is "acquaintance rape." Rapists must CHOOSE their targets, and to do that they need motive and opportunity. You have the ability to deny them the opportunity, and to some extent their motives. If you have this ability, should you act on it? Then that is the same as saying that you're responsible for your own actions that can mitigate or exacerbate the risk of being raped. Please read this treatise to see that there are two senses of the word 'responsibility': culpability and personal governance. To say that you're accountable for yourself is not to say that you are to blame for what someone else does to you. The consequences of denying personal responsibility over your choices leads to absurdity.

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