Rape Culture – Part 2/3: The difference between victim blaming and the systemic participation of women
Individuals in the social role “woman” often get into a victim role in Rape Culture. A familiar reaction is to declare individuals in the social role “woman” guilty for offences committed against them. This behaviour is called victim blaming, which is a central part of Rape Culture. A typical trope of victim blaming is the alleged connection between the length of her skirt and her sexual availability. The artist Rosea Posey beautifully captures the absurdity of this connection in the following picture:
Rosea Posey (2012) Judgements [Online]. Available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/roseaposey/7173294256 (Accessed 26 May 2018). I do not own this picture.
“Asking for it” in the sense of “provoking an offence” is the most obvious of all victim blaming formulations, designations as “prudish” in this context simply ignore women’s rights for self-determination over their own bodies. While the length of her skirt might be a hint whether a woman is feeling more or less sexy that day, it does not constitute any form of “sexual availability”. Mutual consent of all individuals involved is compellingly necessary in any and all sexual activities (actually, in all human activities that involve more than one person). The person who breaks consent is committing a criminal offence!
A woman walks alone, at night, and in a mini skirt, through the streets of a large city. Time and again, police officers have issued warnings to not exhibit this behaviour as a woman and to dress less revealing. This advice is, however, quite the double-edged sword:
- From a purely ethical point of view this advice is wrong: Because no matter how a woman dresses, self- determination over one’s own body is a basic human right. The responsibility for any form of assault always lies with the perpetrator, never with the victim. To blame the behaviour of a woman as a reason for a transgression against her is always an excuse of an offender, nothing else.
- From a purely pragmatic view this advice is correct: Because in a patriarchal society women, who dress revealingly, are harassed more often than a women who dresses modestly. A woman who, due to such a warning, choses to wear modest clothing reduces the danger of disrespectful treatment and sexual assault.
The last point amplifies why I am of course not arguing that all people would suddenly become good and respectful, if only women would unblock their sexuality. Mankind will always contain stupid people and assholes. That is, for example, deducible from the fact that 80% of all crimes are committed by 20% of the population (repeat offenders). People can already be part of the 20% when their sexuality awakens, or become assholes due to frustration with the asshole dynamic over the course of their lives. As soon as people have become assholes, however, their personal history is ethically irrelevant, because all individuals, as soon as they are of age, are 100% responsible to treat their fellow human beings respectfully and do their part for a good and holistically functioning society.
Assholes, no matter how they became thus, will become offenders if and when an occasion presents itself. An occasion is any situation with one or more vulnerable individuals in range. That is, by the way, valid for all psychological and physical acts of violence, not only for offenses from the categories of Rape Culture. If no vulnerable individuals are present, offenders tend to project the social role “woman” on everything which is not clearly attributable to the social role “man”. This is why that projection can also affect people who have never assumed the social role “woman” or are intentionally working against the patriarchal falsehood. If most women fully lived their sexuality with all suitable, respectful, consent-adhering resonance people, there would notwithstandingly still be enough assholes, psychopaths and rapists in the world. And it would still be absolutely necessary for women to reject them and bring charges against this sort of individuals. But it might be possible to break the vicious cycle of these group dynamics which produce new assholes from originally respectful and consent- honouring people by disappointment if female sexuality was lived in an active and honest way. In the long term, the population would settle down on a constant subset of assholes (probably the 20% plus standard deviation), which problem would still have to be solved by the constitutional state.