I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Victim Blame

In the past few weeks, I have seen a rash of anti-victim blame posts, statuses, and statements, normally to the effect of "It's the criminal's fault. It's not my fault for wearing whatever I want. I'll wear what I want, and you teach people not to be rapists."

In an ideal world, this is precisely what would happen. People would be decent to each other, and not force anyone to act against their will. As my readers hopefully know, we don't live in an ideal world.

In my post about the SlutWalks, I talked passingly about victim blame. There is unfortunately a certain mindset in the world that says that dressing a certain way or acting in certain manners transfers fault from the rapist to the raped, to the effect of "they were asking for it," or "if you don't take . This is patently absurd. The only party responsible is the rapist, period, full stop, end of story.

The reaction tends to go too far though. While it does not make it the victim's fault, certain actions do make it more likely that a rapist may choose to victimize them. Rape is the extreme example, and perhaps the most polarizing. It extends to any case of victimization however. There has been a recent rash of cell phone thefts, with people talking on the phone having the phone, purses or other items stolen in a snatch and grab. The solution to this is basic situational awareness. Making yourself an unattractive victim* is likely to keep you safer, be it by carrying a gun, covering yourself, or even just having a baseline situational awareness.

The critical distinction to make is that not taking measures does not render you responsible for whatever should happen to you. You are under no obligation, moral or otherwise** to take these actions. However, they are simple enough, and of potentially so much benefit that to not take the measures is foolhardy. Foolhardy is not immoral though.

In short form: it's not ever the victim's fault; there are things that can be done to limit risk; limiting actions are easy enough that not taking them is foolish. It's the difference between obligation and good sense.

*Rape is so polarizing because of the different sort of attraction.
**This is a generalization, as there are arguments for a moral obligation to defend yourself from goblins for the sake of preventing further victimization, but this is a tricky sort of argument and not one I'll get into now.

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