Any of you who know very much about the epidemic of sexual violence in our culture has probably heard this kind of argument:
If you leave your car unlocked, with a bunch of money sitting on the front seat you are partly responsible for the loss if that money is stolen. And it's the same with sexual violence, including rape; if you do not take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe (ex: not drinking to much, not going out alone, not wearing revealing clothing) you are partly responsible for the violence that could be perpetrated against you.
Hearing this makes me livid for several reasons and I'm going to rant about them all now.
#1- How the hell are you going to compare losing some money to losing your sense of safety, sanity, and value as a human being???? This kind of argument trivializes sexual violence, making it seem even remotely comparable to having money stolen.
Now, I can already feel the comments coming in about how having your car broken into DOES take away your sense of safety and sanity. About how the potential damage to the car in conjunction with the loss of the money could mean lasting and significant struggles. But please refrain from leaving these comparative comments unless you happen to have had your money stolen before AND been a victim of sexual violence. Because you can't possibly understand how completely ridiculous your assessment of the comparison is otherwise.
#2- You would not be held responsible for money stolen from an unlocked car. You would report it to the police, who would open an investigation and would be committed to finding the criminal. While there are obviously going to be exceptions to this, it is generally the case. You may be made to feel a bit foolish, but it would be obvious to everyone, including yourself, that the only person who really did something WRONG was the person who stole your money.
This is, overwhelmingly often, not the case with sexual violence. First of all, it is estimated that less than half of rapes are even reported. Rape is very likely the most unreported crime in our nation. (http://www.rccmsc.org/resources/get-the-facts.aspx) This is, at least partly, because our culture makes victims of sexual violence feel responsible for the crime. Unlike the theft example, wherein the victim feels foolish, but knows that he/she didn't do anything wrong themselves, victims of sexual violence are made to feel like they did do something wrong to cause the crime. This feeling is reinforced by the incredibly low conviction rate of these criminals and the lack of enforcement of laws which are supposed to protect victims (more on that in another post).
#3- We are all responsible for our own actions, and we are not responsible for the actions of others. Which means that if a woman chooses to go out alone with people she doesn't know well, drink too much, and wear a tight fitting, cleavage showing, mini dress she is responsible for all those choices. She will be responsible for her own hangover, being too cold, and possibly for some awkward conversations due to the lack of friends out with her.
However, she will not be responsible for the actions of someone else, perhaps someone who criminally (yes, criminally) ignores the fact that she is too intoxicated to be able to consent to having sex.
When we think about it this way it becomes obvious that not only is a person not responsible for their own rape, but that a person isn't responsible for having their money stolen either. So, the theft example becomes a moot point anyway.
I don't have ANY idea why we seem to want to allow criminals to get away with less responsibility and consequence than they deserve, but we ARE doing it, and it's at the expense of victims.
Think about it.