Aug 14, 2009

Victim blaming - the logical conclusion

(Via Jezebel)

An upmarket hotel in the US is accusing a woman who was raped at gun point in its parking lot of having "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children".

The rapist attacked the woman from behind while she was strapping her two small children into their car seats. He forced her to undress and raped her on the back seat in front of the children. He pointed his gun at the children and threatened to sexually assault one of them.

The rapist was apprehended, tried, and sent to prison for 20 years. Neither judicially nor morally is there any doubt who is 100% responsible for this inhuman violation of another human being's dignity and personhood.

We talk a lot about victim blaming and how prevalent it is in our society, and it's often difficult to explain to people who are blinded by patriarchal assumptions about gender what "victim blaming" actually is, or how, e.g., asking questions like "why did she take him back?" or "why was she walking alone at night?" constitutes victim blaming behaviour in the first place.

But this is an absolutely clear cut case. The Marriott here is totally adamant that the rape was the woman's fault, or at least that she bears a lot of the responsibility for it (presumably they're not deluded enough to claim that she raped herself). They are, explicitly and unashamedly, blaming the victim.

They're not saying "young women are more prone to attack, she should have been more careful", because she was 40 when the rape happened.

They're not saying "she shouldn't have been flirting with him", because this was one of those tiny minority of random stranger rapes.

They're not saying "she shouldn't have been alone in a dangerous neighbourhood", because it happened in their own 4-star garage parking lot.

And yet, when she sued them (for an earth shattering $15,000, no less) for failing to provide adequate security on their premises and for ignoring previous reports about the rapist hovering in the area and harassing women, thereby leaving him free to rape, they turned around and quite clearly stated that it's all her fault for not making "proper use of her senses".

How can this be? How can someone even take precautions against a random crime? How do they propose women parking in their garage "mitigate their damages", as they put it?

Well, presumably, by not brazenly existing in the world while in possession of a vagina.

That is what I'd like people to take away from this: every time you think, or hear someone say "you know, women can do a lot to prevent rape by doing/not doing XYZ", think about this woman, whom a major corporation is lambasting as the author of her own misery.

Because saying "don't drink and flirt with men" and "don't wear short skirts" is bullshit. The rules won't protect you. Long skirts won't protect you. Secured parking lots with guards and cameras won't protect you.

Women don't get themselves raped. Men rape them. Anything that says otherwise is victim blaming.

ETA: Shakesville has a list of emails & URLs where you can contact the hotel chain and its owners to let them know what you think about this shit.

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