I have heard the same catch phrase from feminists many times now: “You can’t blame the victim!”
It seems that whenever this statement is uttered, everyone just sheepishly drops their gaze and apologizes for fear of being considered offensive or sexist.
But why can we never blame the victim?
Before I get into this, let me say that, although I am a man, I do consider myself a feminist — if a feminist is someone who believes in equal treatment and opportunity for men and women.
Before getting into rape, let’s cool off a little, as I know many people might be fuming so far, and try to apply the “you can’t blame the victim” theory to another situation.
Let’s same I see a group of gang members hanging out on a street corner. I then decide to go up to them and say, “You guys should be in school right now.” As a result, I am beaten up. Is my foolish judgement really blameless? Of course not: I should most definitely be blamed for my lapse in common sense. Now, is the crime any less serious? Of course not.
The fact is that the “you can’t blame the victim” mentality conflates two concepts. If you agree that you can’t blame the victim, you are saying both, the victim did nothing to provoke this crime and the perpetrators are less guilty for this crime.
Of course, I am not saying both of these. I am not saying the perpetrators are less guilty for this crime. I am saying that the victim did something to provoke the crime.
Now, the common issue with rapes is, if a woman wears provocative clothing and walks down a street alone, she is not to be blamed because you can’t blame the victim. Nonsense. Any woman with any common sense knows that she is being wholly naive to think that she can behave in this way and not expect negative consequences. Again, if she is raped, is the crime any less severe? No. However, the woman can still be blamed for not being responsible with her own safety.
If the world were a happy, joyful, peaceful place where crimes never happened, then this hypothetical woman’s behavior wouldn’t need to be judged. However, we have to face facts. There are bad people in this world. If you behave in certain ways, you will provoke an attack by them.
In any case other than rape, it seems logical that we can blame the victim. Let’s have some uniformity in our convictions.