Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Victim Blaming
I should save this story for "blogging against sexism" day, but I am too mad and the issues are too deep to simply to attribute to sexism. The below story shows a systemic need by society to blame women for the many assaults that happen to them. They drank too much. They put themselves in harm's way. They agreed to the sexual activity and then regretted it later.

This school year has opened my eyes to the huge problem we STILL have in treating rape victims. Issues as basic as not having enough rape kits on college campus OR refusing to give rape victims the morning after pill frustrate me. Editorial comments in newspapers with chains of reasoning that include "women should not go to strange men's houses" or "drink at parties" as that means they are "asking for it" infuriate me. However, the constant need for the justice system to humiliate and blame the women suffering from these horrible and violent attacks is too much.

The most recent example of an Illinois woman being threatened with contempt of court if she refuses to watch the video of her rape is outrageous. The woman was 16 when the attack happened. She does not remember much of the night but woke up in a strange man's bed naked from the waist down with obscenities written on her legs. The video tape shows the violence and obscenities which occured. Some of the men have already been charged with assault and battery. However, if this woman does not testify (which she won't if the defense insists on showing the video), the criminal charges will be dismissed against the alleged rapist. The defense is characterizing the woman as someone who got really drunk and had a one night (consensual) stand.

With horror stories like this, is it any wonder that women are hesitant to come forward? Even worse, the Chicago Tribune story that I read further delegitimizes the woman (and other rape victims) by throwing in an off hand (unrelated comment) about a case that happened in 1995 where a woman "recanted" her story after refusing to testify. Is the implication that this woman is refusing to testify because she is lying? Why compare her story with another story of a woman who recanted? Why not discuss the psychological effects on the woman watching the tape? Why not throw in an off hand comment about a case where the woman was not forced to watch a tape of her own attack but still convicted her attacker?


Blogger quakerdave said...

Um, why are we surprised at this? The Right in this country - the "Taliban wing of the Republican Party," as it's been described - as been throwing gas on the backlash for years, aided and abetted by female pundits and politicos. (Every fascist movement has its kapos, I guess.)

The Democrats (who? where?) NEED to jump all over women's issues next time around in '08. I would love to hear Hillary come out blazin' like the feminist the Repos paint her out to be.

If only.

Anonymous Kourt said...

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Anonymous Kourtney said...

Here is were my personal dilemma comes into play~ I fully believe that woman (and women all over) are wronged by people who feel they can do whatever they want to them and get (and usually do) away with it.

I also, however, feel that no one can label me or others as victims. When you are labeled the victim it makes you seem that you are unable to protect yourself and you are inferior to others in this imperialistic society of ours....

Not sure if that makes sense

Blogger kristen said...

I understand what you are saying. However, I think the reality is that women are victims--in a lot of ways. However, even if you change the phrase "rape victim" the argument still stands that women are not being protected by our judicial system. When a violent attack happens to *anyone* they should find solace in the court system not further exploitation.

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