The Blame Game

Why do we blame victims? Slut Walk was started in part to try to change how culture views blaming victims (after a police officer in Toronto mentioned that women could avoid being “victims” of sexual assault if they wouldn’t dress like “sluts”). In my experience in working with survivors of sexual assault, as well as people in general, people seem to be more comfortable with blaming the survivors than anyone else. Tori Amos even sings about what she was wearing when assaulted, and wonders if that has any influence over blame (and for the record, a person could have on the sexiest, slinkiest outfit – or heck, even be naked! – and have made the first move, and as long as they say no, it’s no longer consensual).

Image courtesy of The Gloss

Jessica Pauline Ogilvie from The Gloss wrote an article I found very insightful that compared victim-blaming for crimes other than sexual assault. In the article, Ogilvie notes that instead of seething, she would like to “try to rationally, calmly and objectively apply the same logic that’s often used to blame rape victims to other crimes, and see if maybe there’s just some logic that I’m missing!” For whatever reason, Ogilvie opts to make the victim(s)/survivor(s) in her article male (I think that this is brilliant for at least three reasons – one of which is that the majority of survivors of sexual assault are female, and in general, the majority of people I work with tend to assume that it’s extremely rare for a male to be sexually assaulted). Amongst the five crimes that Ogilvie mentions, she includes home robbery, online fraud, and murder. While it might seem a little extreme, I see where she is going with this. For example, with online fraud, Ogilvie says, “What did he expect for having so much money in his bank accounts, and taking the risk of using an online banking system?” and for home robbery she explains, “he shouldn’t have decorated his house so attractively — he had nice electronics, expensive furniture and a Persian rug, and he gave the impression that he wanted it stolen by having a window.” I fully agree with the author when she says, “maybe it’s just me, but in crimes other than rape, these just sound so absurd. What do you think?”

Is it so absurd? Do you ever think it’s acceptable to blame a survivor of sexual assault?

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About Holly Moyseenko

Holly Moyseenko is a sex educator living in Ohio. She is an advocate of positive and healthy sexuality. Holly currently works for a non-profit health organization as a health educator, and also teaches workshops that focus on many topics within the realm of healthy sexuality. In her spare time, she also is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, gardens, reads anything within reach, drinks copious amounts of tea, and naps with her two dogs.