Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

We Can’t Help Ourselves with Victim-Blaming

A friend brought this thread from Mumsnet to my attention. [http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/1789617-MIL-says-she-and-ILs-are-annoyed-by-our-refusal-to-be-driven-drunk]

The basic premise is a mother of a new baby who is being bullied by her in-laws over her refusal to get into a car with them after they have "had a few gin and tonics". Hardly a controversial stance since drunk-driving is illegal for a reason. Yet, the thread is full of women trying to blame a new mother for not doing what she is told.

This might not seem a classic case of victim-blaming but it demonstrates all the normative behaviour with which we engage in when blaming victims. A new mother is being insulted for putting the safety of her new baby over the desires of others to meet the baby. It is her fault for not getting into the car with her drunk father-in-law [or coming with one of a thousand complicated ways of travelling with a 4 month old on public transport during one of the biggest holiday seasons in the US]. The fact is that her baby is being treated as a toy by others for their personal viewing pleasure. They aren't willing to travel to see the baby so she is selfish for not putting her child in danger to visit them.

Have we really arrived at a place where a new mother can't prioritise the safety of a new baby without being treated like a nincompoop for doing so? Do we really have to make excuses for the behaviour of others? There are women on the Mumsnet thread blaming a new mother for not travelling across state lines with a new baby and a drunk driver. They are blaming her for being selfish; just like we blame victims for being victims.

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