Space Ramblings

Are Women to Blame for Rape?

Over at the Guardian’s CommentIsFree, David Cox’s article (Via DollyMix) begins by arguing that date rape is beyond the ability of the courts to handle and concludes with the usual “women need to take responsibility for being raped.”

Yet, why shouldn’t women be encouraged to think twice before visiting footballers’ hotel rooms late at night? Why shouldn’t they be advised that to get themselves into a drunken stupor in the company of a frisky male could carry risks?… Feminists object that even to mention such things constitutes a shift of blame from perpetrator to victim. Yet, when we fit window locks, does this make burglary our fault?

We see arguments like this all the time coming from different quarters and the perversion of logic and responsibility is often very sly. But the problem of rape is not one of responsibility. When a rape or a murder has occurred, arguing that the victim needed to be more careful is utterly besides the point since after the fact, what we are concerned with is justice, not with, what the victim did wrong.

Some crimes are indeed preventable, others are not. Most women who get raped, hard as it may be for David Cox (do I even need to make that joke?) to believe didn’t get drunk in the middle of a crowd of soccer hooligans. Similarly most people who get burglarized didn’t throw open their doors and hang their gold watches in the window.

Crimes happen because their perpetrators want to carry them out. Some crimes of opportunity are preventable, on the other hand it’s pretty hard to do anything about cases like Pamir Safi who came equipped with a rape kit and had a string of women who woke up in bed with him after not remembering a thing. Prevention doesn’t do that much good against predators. Burglars don’t care if you lock your doors. They have tools for that.

Rape isn’t the only crime that’s unresponsive to law enforcement. We don’t imagine that prosecuting drug dealers will solve the drugs problem. We urge their potential victims to “just say no”. We advise that those receiving emails from Nigeria that promise large sums of money in return for smaller upfront payments should exercise caution.

Except the victims of drug dealers aren’t the people who buy drugs from them, that analogy is absurd. The victims of scammers are people who fall for the scam, but there is the Nigerian scam and then there’s the scam your insurance company runs on you when the people in their office do some creative editing of your paperwork. But David Cox always goes for the strawman.

Rape is a crime and like any crime needs to be prosecuted after the fact. Some rapes can be prevented, others can’t. But we don’t tell a mugging victim that he needed to stay out of poor areas or stay home after 11 o’clock. We don’t tell people who have been run over by a truck that it was probably their fault for not looking hard enough. Yet somehow it remains okay to guilt women who are the victims of sexual assaults and demand that they take responsibility for what was done to them and characterize every rape victim as a drunken sorority slut. It’s a disgusting attitude.

There are no easy solutions to crime, any crime, particularly crimes which take place without witnesses and where the rapists have access to the best in legal help. But that doesn’t change the responsibility of the justice system.

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