Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Empowerment and Victim Blaming

What you are doing is hiding your head in sand. Nobody is saying that rapers should not be convicted more, or that all rapes are caused by drinking. But you are criticizing those who educate women to take care of themselves, empower them. What you are saying is basically that women are too weak(like children) and are not in control of anything.

How about teaching women to protect themselves? Your position is the opposite of empowering.

It is empowering, because it is telling them they can control. You won't women to be children, who are helpless.

I am saying if a woman is making herself vulnerable by drinking immense amount of alcohol, she is being stupid. Listen and read.

The above statements are part of a series of tweets we received over the weekend. We have redacted the name of the tweeter to preserve their anonymity. We are sharing them because they exemplify the types of tweets we receive on an almost daily basis. This tweeter genuinely believes that we must empower women by changing women's behaviour and that women who drink are "stupid".

"Empowerment" is a word used a lot around the issues of sexual and domestic violence. The argument is that if we teach women to do X, it will prevent them from being victims. This includes, but isn't limited to, telling women not to drink alcohol, to take self-defence lessons, to stay inside at night and never walk anywhere alone. This is not "empowerment". This is victim blaming.

We need to change the language we use when discussing sexual and domestic violence and that includes not using words like "empowerment" to curtail women's behaviour.

The only people responsible for rape are rapists. Telling a woman that she should have behaved differently is not empowerment. It's precisely the language which prevents women from accessing support for fear of being blamed

 

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3 thoughts on “Empowerment and Victim Blaming

  • scallopsrgreat says:

    I think also that it turns the focus away from male behaviour and changing that, because after all that is the behaviour that is the big problem. It is a trick of patriarchy to keep focusing attention on women’s behaviour and thereby ignoring the man’s behaviour. Male violence isn’t going to go away by teaching women to fight or telling them not to get drunk. The only way male violence will be reduced is by naming the problem and tackling that.

  • AEJ1967 says:

    By focusing on the behaviour of the victim of rape the tweeter is obviously trying to somehow put the blame on the victim. If a victim of murder was drunk are they to blame for the actions of the murderer?

    As a survivor of CSA and Rape I do take responsibility for my recovery – I am a strong woman because I have survived – but my actions either as a child or adult victim do not release my abusers and rapists from responsibility for their actions against me.

    I totally agree with the previous comment that the problem lies with the acceptance that a drunk woman is somehow ‘fair game’ as I have previously asked on here – what kind of man would want to engage in sex with a woman who is unresponsive due to either alcohol or drugs? If someone is vulnerable due to their own behaviour surely the responsible thing to do is to protect them and ensure that they are able to get to a place of safety.

    Basically the tweeter is saying that a drunk woman is not safe from rape in our society and if she chooses to press charges, then she should not be surprised if the rapist is ‘cleared’ – seriously, seriously?? Male violence towards women and the attitudes that keep it going are what needs to be challenged. Please, let’s try to engage in a way which recognises our joint humanity – where on earth is the compassion?

  • Hecuba says:

    If we believe these male created lies then whenever a male is attacked by another male(s) and the male victim is shown to have consumed alcohol; ventured out into men’s public spaces at night without the mandatory female bodyguard then the male victim is responsible not the male(s) who chose to subject the male victim to violence!

    But this is not what those male misogynists are claiming because men are never accountable or responsible for their actions or their own safety. Instead men believe it is the police who are responsible for protecting ‘respectable men (sic)’ from male thugs and male muggers!

    Nothing any female does will ‘protect’ her from male violence because males make the choice to commit said violence against women and girls.