No one should EVER be blamed for their victimhood.
Recently I was listening to one of the several hundreds of true crime podcasts taking up space on my phone.
This particular podcast wasn't a favorite, but I was a regular listener any in spite of the hosts' pretty conservative views. (Because, spoiler alert, you can like things created by people who don't share your views. Shocking, I know. )
The hosts had always seemed like decent enough men to me, and they always tempered their judgments with thoughtful discussion. (That's way more than I can say for a lot of people who don't share the scope of view as I do.)
This episode involved a woman who vanished after going out drinking with some friends at her college, so, naturally, the conversation turned to binge drinking.
Binge drinking is a real problem, especially on college campuses. Drinking to excess, either as an undergrad or an adult, has very real consequences and takes a serious toll on your body.
But that's not what this article is about.
This article is about the words one of the hosts said when discussing a missing girl's abduction:
"The real problem is women drinking too much and men not being able to control themselves."
He said good things after that, like how now always means no, and how terrible rape and sexual assault are.
But that wasn't what he said first.
Instead, what he said was that the problem is women getting too drunk and letting their guard down, "allowing" themselves to be raped or assaulted by men who spend their lives laying in weight to attack women.
He even equated it to "men not being able to control themselves."
This is a terrible idea to promote, and it's exceptionally common.
It also does both men and women a serious disservice.
If you are raped or assaulted it is never your fault.
Never. Nope. Not even a little.
There is no skirt short enough, no bedroom-eyes coy enough, no amount of alcohol you can drink that makes someone violating your body YOUR fault.
This misconception that women must constantly be alert and on guard is just as offensive to men.
I know men and women are different, but I don't think that primary difference is that men are evil, base creatures waiting for a woman to slip up so that they can destroy her life.
Do I think we should all exercise our street smarts when we go out to a party or walk down a crowded city street? Yes. But I am not going to fault someone for being attacked because it's not their fault someone decided to do a bad thing.
If you doubt that this idea permeates our culture, look at these public safety ads that have been cropping up all over New York City.
A woman passed out on the train clutching her phone and seated by her backpack. It's an ad that basically implies:
You got drunk. You put yourself in danger. If something happens. That's on you.
That's the narrative we are spinning instead of trying to fix the actual problem of sexual assault.
Rather than build women up, our society is tacitly supporting a culture of acceptance: We are always going to be made victims, so it's time we took responsibility.
Where do we draw the line?
"Women, don't work two jobs to get by because we will not pay you as much as men, because then you will be tired, and when you're tired it's harder to stop men from raping you."
"Women, don't forget to smile when you are told to or you could make a man angry and then he might rape you."
Like it or not we live in a world where we are taught that be if our phones, our backpack, or our consent is taken away from us it is all our fault.
There are signs that are geared toward men, I have been told, but I have yet to see even one.
Let's put the responsibility back on the individuals who are doing the raping, rather than giving women one more completely unfair and unrealistic responsible to shoulder.