AIBU Victim blaming

(118 Posts)
rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:10:27

Why is this concept only starting to catch on for rape and sexual assault.

We have two big big police campaigns running in my City at the moment that i'm taking issue with.

Don't leave valuables in your car.

Leave your lights on if your going out close to Xmas.

Why should i have to take these steps to protect my belongings? is it reasonable advice? or is this another form of victim blaming?

bobbywash Tue 17-Dec-13 13:11:54

it's reasonable advice.

It's not victim blaming. There are scrotes about, everyone knows it why give them easy targets

I don't think your examples are victim blaming. We can't say every preventative message is victim blaming as it's meaning will dilute. Lets leave that for when we hear really stupid and offensive victim blaming.... 'He/she was asking for it sort'.

Do I make any sense? I think I need a cuppabrew !

GinGinGin Tue 17-Dec-13 13:14:25

I think the difference op is that "valuables" etc are just "things" or "objects" - they are owned by someone. A person isn't a "thing" so it shouldn't be upto the victim of a rape to have prevented it. Not sure I'm making a lot of sense though, hopefully someone else will explain it better grin

lougle Tue 17-Dec-13 13:14:36

Prevention is better than cure.

The difference is that the advice to women with regards rape is 'make yourself less desirable as a woman' - it's intrinsic to women themselves.

The advice regarding theft/burglary is 'make your property less worthwhile to attack' - there is no intrinsic value attached to a house or a car.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:14:46

"There are scrotes about, everyone knows it why give them easy targets"

Following the argument through

There are rapists about, why do young girls get drunk?

projectbabyweight Tue 17-Dec-13 13:16:42

Agree one's talking about women themselves, the other about property. There's a difference a mile wide.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:16:45

Ok, some of that makes sense - but i'd argue as someone who has been burgled - that the emotional distress is very significant.

Well surely you know why!!!! Is this just a debate set to make us all hysterical?

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:18:02


I'm not saying there isn't a difference, that isn't my point. It's just the notion and implementation of victim blaming.

No wonder you were burgled, you didn't leave your lights on.

TheGhostOfPortoPast Tue 17-Dec-13 13:18:08

With rape it is victim blaming because it is not that a woman is drunk, or wearing a short skirt, or wearing a burka and stone cold sober that makes the difference as to whether they are raped or not. Most women are raped by someone they know.

scaevola Tue 17-Dec-13 13:18:42

The problem is that there is no one sort of rape.

Advice to avoid violent stranger attack is definitely worthwhile, as is advice about not leaving your drink unattended, knowing how you'll get home etc. And DC of both ages need to learn about this before they start going out alone in their teens. But there are no prevantative measures that cover every rape scenario, and good ideas (wear shoes you can run in if you have to walk home) all too easily gets conflated with stupid ideas (what you wear makes you more likely to be raped).

Victim blaming is wrong.

But so is avoiding the provision of (any) anti-crime information.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:19:40

comedycentral to clarify i dont intend this to be a debate about the differences between rape and theft.

I arguing that rape is an area of crime that has seen very progressive leaps around the notion of victim blaming - is it not reasonable to extend this to other areas?

I think you can take reasonable steps to avoid burglary. Big locks, secure windows etc. I've been burgled too. I thought we took all good precautions but police had lots of advice.

GinGinGin Tue 17-Dec-13 13:20:22

I'm pretty sure though op that the emotional distress of someone who's been raped is far, far greater than someone who had their TV stolen. Unless I've misunderstood you?

lougle Tue 17-Dec-13 13:21:46

"No wonder you were burgled, you didn't leave your lights on."

NO, simply that burglars who have 'come clean' have said 'if I was still burgling houses the one's I'd go for first are the ones which look like everyone's out.'

Car thieves have said 'if I was still breaking into cars, I'd look inside first to see if there's anything worth nicking.'

Rapists don't work like that. Most rapes are not 'stranger rapes' and those that are, the woman is simply 'wrong place, wrong time.'

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:21:58

gingingin yes you are misunderstanding rape was given as an example of increasing awareness of victim blaming. Is there scope to widen the notion and awareness of victim blaming in other areas.

projectbabyweight Tue 17-Dec-13 13:22:42

Yes, and it's that intrinsic difference that means you cant apply the same ideas to both types of crime.

TheGhostOfPortoPast Tue 17-Dec-13 13:22:54

Glosswatch did some good blog posts on this subject.

OK I see what your saying. Rape is very emotive though. I am sick of the victim blaming around it, it riles me.

I do think it's reasonable to dish out advice on how to avoid burglary and I don't think its victim blaming. You wouldnt hear a judge blaming someone for leaving their lights off of for having crappy windows. But you might hear them questioning the 'victim status' of a raped individual because of their appearance, outfit or behaviour.

wetaugust Tue 17-Dec-13 13:23:54

Before this thread goes way off track into a debate about rape.....

The Police have a statutory dury to prevent crime, so are just fulfilling that duty - not blaming anyone.

LurcioLovesFrankie Tue 17-Dec-13 13:24:06

Reasons why your analogy is crap:
1) Because I am a person, and therefore intrinsically more important than a TV, or car stereo, or any other object, even the bleedin' koh-i-noor diamond.
2) Because no matter how I dress, I cannot disguise the fact that I have a vagina.

KhunZhoop Tue 17-Dec-13 13:24:44

People are not objects. Objects are not people. Ergo, the same conventions do not apply to each.

Hope that helps, OP.

TheGhostOfPortoPast Tue 17-Dec-13 13:25:01
CustardoPaidforIDSsYFronts Tue 17-Dec-13 13:26:44

I think this is a very interesting notion

however you are going to get de-railed by people jumping up and down screaming how dare you compare rape to a broken car window

you will - that is how this thread will go.

but you have made me stop in my tracks, I am still thinking about this compare and contrast

preventative measures with regards to rape - from my reading on mumsnet, this is never really talked about because it is seen as victim blaming

I see where you are coming from - if one were to use this train of thought therefore

why should I read posters which say "don't leave valuables in car"?

should that poster not say " stealing things from cars is not acceptable, you are in a cctv area and you will be prosecuted"

reinforcing a prevailing culture of non - crime acceptance rather than a prevailing culture of 'victims beware'

.......still thinking and its not often that I have to do that on mumsnet these days ;)

Aeroaddict Tue 17-Dec-13 13:27:26

I think the difference is that it is reasonable and easy to avoid leaving valuables in your car, or to leave a light on in your house. It is not reasonable to say a woman should not go out looking attractive. That is more like saying, do not have a nice car, or other nice possessions, as they might get stolen, which would again not be reasonable. I am not sure if that makes sense, but I know what I mean!

GinGinGin Tue 17-Dec-13 13:27:45

Ok, my apologies. I do agree with you a bit in regards to the theft - obviously no- one should take what isn't theirs, regardless of how easy it is to do. Unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world though.

DoesntLeftoverTurkeySoupDragOn Tue 17-Dec-13 13:28:19

I think there is big a difference between saying
a) You should do X to minimise risk and
b) If you'd done X, Y wouldn't have happened or You shouldn't have done Z

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:28:32

Lurcio i've tried to clarify this is not an analogy! I (think) its a comparative discussion. Based on the excellent awareness raising brought about re rape victim blaming

BarbarianMum Tue 17-Dec-13 13:30:58

I think the difference is this:

It is unreasonable to curtail the personal freedom of a competant adult under the guise of preventing harm from befalling them. So it's not reasonable to impose curfews, constrain dress (though I really don't think that makes any difference), place certain times or locations out of bounds for section of the population in order to protect them from assualt/rape. It is 'victim blaming' to say a person is at fault for an assualt cause they refuse to be restricted (and this is not just about women but also age, race etc).

On the other hand, my possessions do not reasonably require freedom. If I take £100 out of my bank and leave it on the table in the pub whist I nip to the loo and it's not there when I get back I am being stupid and don't require sympathy (although I am still technically the victim of a crime). If I park my car and leave the keys in - ditto.

There are grey areas, of course - how much effort do we reasonably need to make to stop ourselves being burgled? But it's not victim blaming to expect people to make some effort on their own behalf to avoid crimes such as theft.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:32:24


Exactly, its the victim beware culture i take issue with.

Nancy66 Tue 17-Dec-13 13:32:48

You can go on holiday for a fortnight and leave your front door wide open if you want. It's just that people might rob you if you do, so it's up to you.

Suggesting people protect their property is fine and not the same as 'wear a short dress and you're asking for it.'

Actually I agree with you in many ways. When I started my current job I had to sit through a lecture on how to prevent getting your stuff stolen by other members of staff - put it in your locker, don't bring nice stuff to work. At one point he gave an example of a woman who'd brought uggs in and had them stolen. He asked the audience whose fault it was - I said loudly 'the thief's'. No, apparently it was the silly woman's fault for bringing them in. Too tempting. Why did he not use the opportunity to address potential thieves and tell them in no uncertain terms that stealing was unacceptable and if they had a problem they should get help.

While rape is obviously way more serious than having your uggs nicked, I do think as a society we're far to easy to place a lot of responsibility on victims than on the perpetrators. Maybe if we made it clear that victim blaming is unfair in all kinds of crime, rather than diluting the message it would actually strengthen the view that women should not be blamed for the behavior of their rapist.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:34:15


Victim blaming isn't always as obvious as that though is it.

projectbabyweight Tue 17-Dec-13 13:34:21

That's a good point BarbarianMum, maybe we should encourage people to avoid being the victim of crime (or at least give advice on how to), up to the point of it curtailing their personal freedom, and stop there.

LurcioLovesFrankie Tue 17-Dec-13 13:35:07

rpitchfo - how do you suggest I disguise/hide the fact that I've got a vagina then? Because women get raped while wearing twinsets and pearls, while out jogging in tracky bottoms, while walking home from school in school uniform. And I have never seen a convincing set of statistics to suggest that a short skirt and heels puts me at higher risk (in a statistical sense) of being raped than women in any of these other groups.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:37:04

Lurcio seeing as your comment is in no way related to anything i have said so far i won't be answering.

LurcioLovesFrankie Tue 17-Dec-13 13:38:10

Barbarianmummy has hit the nail on the head - all these "crime prevention" suggestions impinge on people's liberty to go about their daily business in a perfectly reasonable way.

(The worst one I ever saw was the advice, following the tragic murder of a woman who was sitting up the embankment above her broken-down car, to sit in your car on the hard shoulder - despite the fact that statistically you would then be several orders of magnitude more likely to be killed by your car being hit by another vehicle than you would by encountering a random axe murderer).

LurcioLovesFrankie Tue 17-Dec-13 13:40:02

But it is - "don't leave valuables in your car" only works because there's somewhere else you can put them. Don't you get it? No matter how I dress, where I go, whether I am stone cold sober or drunk, a rapist knows I have the sort of "valuables" he is interested in about my person, because in this case, it is my body - me - we're talking about.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:42:34

I'm not talking about rape though - i'm talking about victim blaming/victim beware culture as a concept.

Barbarianmummy makes a good point though - not sure i agree completely - but the idea that it should only be linked to the idea of personal freedoms. That's quite interesting.

DeWe Tue 17-Dec-13 13:46:22

Why is that victim blaming?

Victim blaming would be notices saying "Don't come whining to the police if something valuable gets stolen from your car because you shouldn't have left it."
Nah... can't see that slogan catching on.

The ones that make me laugh are the ones that say "Leave NOTHING in your car". I always imagine seeing a little man carefully carrying his steering wheel and car seats away in order to leave nothing.

My parents do take it to slight extremes. Big security crook lock when they leave the car more than half an hour. They always lock their radio away in the glove pocket too. This radio was the original with the car (about 15-20 years old now) and does have a cassette player attachment. I asked them if they thought it had vintage value last year and got a hard stare. grin and the car doubles its value with a full tank of petrol

LurcioLovesFrankie Tue 17-Dec-13 13:48:05

rpitchfo - OK, bowing out now - your first sentence of your OP says "why is this concept only just beginning to catch on for rape and sexual assault", and now you say "I'm not talking about rape." You either want to have the first discussion, or you want to have the second, but you can't have both. Unless you're deliberately posting inflammatory shit then backtracking when people call you on it. I must admit it does come across to me as if you're just out to have an utterly self-contradictory ramble with a view to starting a bunfight.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:50:38

Lurcio The only reason i have used rape to discuss victim blaming is because it's the only area i can think of that has successful raised awareness around the issue. Is that because it's the only area it is applicable to? I doubt it.

YouTheCat Tue 17-Dec-13 13:51:48

How is it victim blaming? If your house is prevented from being a target by leaving on a light (and therefore making a burglar doubtful as to whether the house is occupied) then that is a sensible thing to do.

Same as urging people of both sexes to keep themselves safe by knowing how they will get home is sensible advice. It's not saying do this or you will be raped.

Prevention is surely better than becoming a victim?

Nancy66 Tue 17-Dec-13 13:53:23

suggesting people keep their valuables out of reach is not victim blaming. It's a suggestion. A sensible one that people are free to ignore if they feel 'victimised'

mensachampion Tue 17-Dec-13 13:56:18

This is the whole danger of the whole kneejerk 'victim blaming' campaigns, you get people without the power of rational thought like OP here who can longer function as a sensible member of society because they believe they've been told (and maybe they have) that if something bad could happen that isn't their fault, they should act as if it isn't a possibility and take no sensible measures whatsoever to reduce the possibility of encountering unpleasant events.

Yes people should be told some actions (aka crimes) are unacceptable, and they are, there are many such campaigns, police visiting schools etc. However it doesn't work on everyone so it makes sense to advise people to take sensible precautionary measures, if they don't impact too much on their quality of life, in order to reduce the chance of crimes happening to them. What the crime is is irrelevant, if there was an obvious, easy, effective way of significantly reducing the probability of it happening to you without reducing your quality of life significantly and you didn't take it, that is stupid. That is a completely separate concept of the blame of commiting the crime on the perpetrator, and lack of precautionary measures taken by the victim does not reduce the blame of the perpetrator. Seems to me a lot of people are unable to distinguish between these two concepts and this leads them to getting irrationally enraged, but there you go.

NoComet Tue 17-Dec-13 13:59:05

Sensible precautions are sensible precautions!

And I'm sorry that includes, as the mother of two DDs, not getting stupidly drunk!

Getting drunk leaves you open to making stupid decisions.

Wether that's crossing the road at the wrong moment
Leaving an expensive phone on the bar.
Accepting a lift of a pissed mate
Or going home with a loser who rapes you.

He is a rapist, but you are still a fool.

And as he is a rapist he should go to jail for the requisite term. Your being drunk does not make him any less guilty. He still choose to rape.

Just as leaving you handbag on the front seat of a car or your bike unlocked doesn't make the thief any less of a thief!

I really wish feminists would get this straight!

I know it comes from the best of intentions because of the misogamist, victim blaming, excuse finding appalling behaviour of many judges, but for a million good reasons I want my DDs to understand getting pissed is not the same as wearing a short skirt!

yourusername123456789 Tue 17-Dec-13 14:00:24

Isn't it all about minimising risk? Obviously no one asks to be burgled/raped and no one should have it happen, but it's not very sensible to walk home drunk on your own in a dark area, just as it's not sensible to leave phones and ipads and your grandmother's pearls lying on your car seat.

It's not victim blaming it's just friendly advise. These things shouldn't happen, but they do, here are some tips to help you. simples.

WigWearer Tue 17-Dec-13 14:04:28

He is a rapist, but you are still a fool

Fucking hell. If your DD was raped, you would call her a fool?


And they wonder why rape is under-reported.

I never told my mum when I was sexually assaulted as a teenager. Probably because I knew she would consider it to be (at least partly) my fault.

My mum is a bear of very little brain.

mensachampion Tue 17-Dec-13 14:09:27

Here is one given definition of a fool:

"One who acts unwisely on a given occasion"

So WigWearer, your argument is basically that if an unwise decision results in a bad outcome, that decision is immediately disqualified from being counted as foolish?

This sort of "logic" is the same as "don't speak ill of the dead", so er... Jimmy Saville.. can't say a bad word about him then?

tombakerscarf Tue 17-Dec-13 14:10:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

"There are rapists about, why do young girls get drunk?"

Your own use of language is interesting and probably from social conditioning. If a young girl gets raped, it is child rape. All women get raped, I don't know why the "young" was put in by you.

I think the difference is that no one ever got acquitted of theft because they are poor and the house was sat there tempting the thief with its finery, unlike the person who just happened to be in possession of a vagina.

We can all take reasonable steps to not be an easy target for a criminal, that doesn't compromise our Independance or make us into second class citizens. As women (rapists of males are handled very differently by the courts) we cannot take those steps and still be safe or be behaving on a par with the males around us.

There isn't a fight to change the publics/courts/police etc view of theft etc. We treat any theft as wrong.

Whereas sexism has allowed a grey area to exist when it comes to male on female attacks (I include DV in that).

When that grey area is gone and men are seen as being in control of their sex drives, in the way that we are all expected to be in control of our impulsive wants, then comparisons can be made.

It is really ludicrous that we are expected to queue up at food banks, when we live in a society were food is everywhere, yet men are not expected to be happy with having a wank, so excuses are made.

The scary thing is, we could justify most other crimes and the Courts know that, coupled with the fact that the rich/male (and one time white) etc can be subject to those crimes, they have been clamped down on. Whereas Women just were not important enough to protect, unlike property.

The courts don't mirror the safety advice given to any other crime other than Rape and use it get get a lesser sentence, or drop the case entirely. Our legal system acknowledges that there has been a victim, perhaps a careless one but still very much a victim and not an enabler.

NoComet Tue 17-Dec-13 14:54:52

Of course I wouldn't call her a fool, I'd give her a big hug.

But I do believe that the anti victim blaming movement is stopping us having a serious conversation with our daughters and sons about the dangers of alcohol.

Young men are far more likely to end up in fights or hurt in RTAs than they are likely to rape.

Getting drunk is stupid, it's not clever and (beyond a certain point) it's not fun.

That the feminists get on their high horses if the police try to get this message across makes me angry.

projectbabyweight Tue 17-Dec-13 15:04:46

But there's a clear distinction isn't there?

As tombakerscarf says "It IS foolish to get so drunk you cant make good decisions. That is different from being raped, the responsibility for which is always and solely the rapists."

Feminists have no problem with people being advised not to get incapacitated, as it's not a good idea in general.

(Incidentally, I really don't like it when these feminist cliches get trotted out.)

projectbabyweight Tue 17-Dec-13 15:06:54

I don't mean that what I said was a cliche (oh dear I'm confused ing myself now!)

LeBFG Tue 17-Dec-13 15:20:52

Challenging the idea of victim blaming in rape cases is and has been a very important part of the change in how we view rape in this country.

As an extension of this idea though there is an incorrect notion that you are equally likely to be raped whatever your age and whatever your state of intoxication. This is untrue. We are doing a disservice to women by denying this information exists. We can talk about this information and disseminate it AND not victim blame surely?

DoingItForMyself Tue 17-Dec-13 15:41:44

I think AeroAddict summed it up succinctly.

AutumnFire Tue 17-Dec-13 15:45:01

I think one of the reasons the concept of victim blaming is applied mainly to rape/sexual assault is because victims of rape/sexual assault do tend to come under the spotlight in a way you just don't really see with other crimes.

News, newspapers, or tabloids reporting on someone's burgled house are unlikely to focus on all the things the victim did or didn't do, or should/shouldn't have done, and nobody tends to debate over whether or not a crime took place, or how 'bad' that crime really was.

With rape/sexual assault however, any facebook/twitter/forum conversation makes it obvious that there is a huge body of people who are keen to point out why the victim was 'asking for it', or is probably lying because they were dressed a certain way, acting a certain way, etc. Or worse, that it wasn't 'real' rape/sexual assault because.... (more victim blaming).

Rape/sexual assault is unique in that many people do try to blame the victim, sometimes even over and above blaming the perpetrator. Use of the phrase 'victim blaming' is a way to name this phenomena and attempt to counteract it.

phantomnamechanger Tue 17-Dec-13 15:53:37

I was thinking this very thread earlier today <spooky>

I totally agree that thieves are thieves and rapists are rapists - both though tend to be opportunistic, so we can all do things to reduce the opportunities. Like not leave valuables in your car, lock your windows etc.

This is not the same as saying "If you look nice you are asking to be raped, so you are partly to blame" which is obviously crap, but I do agree with the poster above who said things like - don't get pissed, watch your drink so it cant get spiked, let someone know where you are going, don't accept lifts off a stranger etc. These are surely just sensible precautions - not victim blaming. You can think someone made foolish decisions without actually thinking it is their fault they were raped. The 2 are not the same.

AutumnFire Tue 17-Dec-13 15:58:28

Also, preventative measures for most crimes apply equally to everyone.

There is a difference between saying:

"No one should go out drinking alone and/or to excess because its unwise."

and saying:

"Women shouldn't go out drinking alone and/or to excess because they might get raped".

Targeting 'preventative measures' at women only, allows women's freedom to slowly become curtailed in a way that greatly reduces their quality of life compared to men.

"Don't go out late at night unaccompanied," can soon turn into - "don't go out anywhere unaccompanied," or even "don't go out anywhere without a man", as we already see in other countries.

Likewise, "Don't wear a short skirt" could easily slide into a fully prescribed dress code, that women have to wear in order to not be blamed for their own rapes.

Preventative measures are reasonable for crimes such as theft, because they apply to everyone.

maddening Tue 17-Dec-13 16:00:55

I think there is victim blaming and crime prevention - so advising to walk at night in well lit areas is crime prevention advice - to men and women who are all susceptible to attacks by criminals and all more vulnerable at night, by yourself and in a badly lit area.

But the seriousness and blame for the crime always rests wih the perpetrator eg walking in a badly lit area and alone does not make your fair game.

mensachampion Tue 17-Dec-13 16:07:42

Preventative measures are reasonable for crimes such as theft, because they apply to everyone.

No they don't, those who have more stuff to steal are more vulnerable to theft so should take more preventative measures. The owner of a Maserati may need to be more careful where they leave their car because is it more likely to be vandalised that the next persons knackered old ford fiesta. If you're in a group that is more susceptible to certain sorts of crimes that's bad luck, but refusing to acknowledge you might need to take more precautions against those sorts of crimes is just foolishness.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 16:09:56

If you dont leave your valubles in your car, they cannot get stolen.

Entirely up to you what you choose to do.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 16:11:22

Trouble is, if they get stole, who are you going to call?
The police?
And that costs them money.
Not necessarily you, but it will definitely cost them.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 16:11:51

No idea whether they would blame you or not.

AutumnFire Tue 17-Dec-13 16:14:37

'Those who have more stuff to steal' is not a fixed group of people, determined at birth and unchangeable, rather unlike being born biologically female.

mensachampion Tue 17-Dec-13 16:20:41

So what, there are a million examples that do fit that criteria, there are neighbourhoods in the US where if a white person enters during certain times of the day they are highly likely to be violently assaulted. What you're suggesting is that white people should not avoid entering these neighbourhoods if they can avoid it because of some sort of indignity that it isn't right that other ethnic groups don't have the same issue. Maybe it's not right, but it's reality and sheer idiocy to put oneself at that sort of needless risk.

AutumnFire Tue 17-Dec-13 16:24:03

I would argue that that scenario (person of a certain colour not able to safely go somewhere) is entirely unacceptable, and measures should be taken to counteract it.

Not accept that because this bad example of society's management stands, that therefore its ok to manage other issues just as badly.

bumbleymummy Tue 17-Dec-13 16:24:33

The problem is that as soon as you try to say that you should take certain precautions you get accused of victim blaming. I agree with others saying that taking precautions is just a sensible thing to do if it reduces risk. It does not excuse the perpetrator of a crime if you choose not to do those things. This includes rape. I do not see a problem with telling my daughters (if I have any) that they should avoid walking home alone at night, taking dodgy shortcuts, taking rides home from people they don't know, getting drunk etc. I would give my sons the same advice. Apparently I am victim blaming for doing that and making my children feel guilty if something does happen to them. Personally, I'd rather minimise the risk where at all possible.

It's not victim blaming to say if you leave your phone in your car, it is could get stolen. It's victim blaming to say, if you leave your phone in your car, it's your fault if it gets stolen. It's not victim blaming to say, if you leave a drink unattended it may be spiked. It's victim blaming to say, if you leave your drink unattended and it gets spiked, its all your fault. It's not victim blaming to say areas without much lighting can be more dangerous at night. It's victim blaming to say someone shouldn't have walked in that area if they didnt want to be mugged.

That's my understanding of it anyway.

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 16:31:12

I agree Buffy

and i've seen enough "you left your sat nav in your car what did you expect comments" to realise preventative advice very quickly morphs into a victim blaming narrative.

bumbleymummy Tue 17-Dec-13 16:33:22

Well if they hadn't left their sat nav in the car then a thief wouldn't have had the opportunity to steal it...

mensachampion Tue 17-Dec-13 16:33:46

I would argue that that scenario (person of a certain colour not able to safely go somewhere) is entirely unacceptable, and measures should be taken to counteract it.

I'm sure nobody would disagree, however no solution will appear overnight. Your assertion appeared to be that unless a crime affects everyone equally, potential victims shouldn't concern themselves with taking preventative measures, so how does that work in the meantime until crimes that discriminate between different groups are 'solved'?

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 16:34:04


so it's their fault it was stolen...?

bumbleymummy Tue 17-Dec-13 16:39:42

Why does saying that mean that it was their fault? How can you say 'take reasonable precautions' or 'reduce the risk' without being accused of victim blaming? There are thieves about - if you leave your things around they can get stole. If you want to remove the risk of them being stolen then don't leave them in your car.

bumbleymummy Tue 17-Dec-13 16:40:26


Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 16:42:04

If you drop litter in the street, and get fined for it, is it your fault that you got fined?

rpitchfo Tue 17-Dec-13 16:44:13

Golddigger of course it is, what's that got to do with anything? There is no victim in that scenario.

AutumnFire Tue 17-Dec-13 16:57:31

My assertion is not that "unless a crime affects everyone equally, potential victims shouldn't concern themselves with taking preventative measures".

My assertion is that: "Preventative measures that are aimed at, and restrict only women (in this case), to the detriment of their basic freedoms as a person (such as where they can go, when they can go, and what they should wear), are not reasonable."

Not drinking alone/to excess - applied equally as a guide to men and women - reasonable.

Not walking alone in dark, unpopulated areas - applied equally as a guide to men and women - reasonable.

Prescriptions for dress code, applied only to women - unreasonable.

Not going out alone, applied only to women - unreasonable.

Rape by a stranger is a bit of a red herring in all of these cases, as a woman is most at danger from the men she knows.

Violent assault/mugging/murder/and yes, rape are all dangers for individuals, both men and women, which is why preventative measures are reasonable as applied to both sexes.

AutumnFire Tue 17-Dec-13 16:59:08

Also, I do not as an individual, have a perfect solution for the problems society has.

But I do know that unless people en masse turn their focus to the root of the problem, rather than prescribing unacceptable restrictions for potential victims, we will never be able to improve things.

LeBFG Tue 17-Dec-13 17:39:38

I think that is the crux of the problem though Autumn. All other forms of violence has been in decline for decades and even centuries. With the exception of rape. In peaceable countries there is a level of rape that is just stubborn to eradication whatever policies are put in place. The rad rems will say this will only change when we have a revolution and overthrow the patriarchy but personally I find this solution a little fanciful.

garlicbaubles Tue 17-Dec-13 17:45:31

It is an interesting proposition. I would agree that every criminal is responsible for their crime, opportunistic or planned (which most rapes are, by the way.) And OP may be right, if we placed all the emphasis on perpetrators' responsibility not to commit crimes, perhaps we'd see good results? I don't know.

With victim-blaming for rape, the error is one you made yourself, pitch - associating certain behaviours with specifically increased risk of rape. Being drunk doesn't make you get raped. It may make you walk into an oncoming lorry, fall down steps, or be a target for opportunistic criminals. These risks with being too drunk apply to anyone, not just "young girls". It has nothing specific to do with rape. Wearing a short skirt doesn't make you get raped or expose you to other risks. But victim blamers choose to think it does. This sort of thing is what makes victim-blaming for rape different from the examples given.

If there were known variables, which made women more attractive targets for rapists, we'd probably take precautions accordingly. In reality, we can follow generalised advice: try not to get shedded while out; try not to leave drinks unattended; try to ascertain our cab driver has the proper licence. These are reasonable precautions against a slew of opportunistic crimes. There is no precaution that will certainly prevent rape, but problems are caused by the popular assumption that there is. Unfortunately the only significant risk factor is being a woman.

garlicbaubles Tue 17-Dec-13 17:46:20

x-posted with others saying much the same. I should type faster!

LeBFG Tue 17-Dec-13 17:50:29

Sorry, chaos here. the rad fems. The root cause of rape is hard to define and no doubt many factors and types of rape. It's been with us since probably before our origins as a species: it's a feature of many mammals.

Joysmum Tue 17-Dec-13 17:50:33

For me it's not about victim blaming, it's about risk management and personal responsibility.

If course any crime is wrong, that's why it's a crime, but it's up to us to look after ourselves too and behave in a way to reduce our risks to a level we as individuals are ok with. We can't entirely eradicate risk.

garlicbaubles Tue 17-Dec-13 18:00:08

It's also about ascribing certain motives to criminals. If you leave a Maserati unlocked with your diamond-encrusted iphone on the passenger seat, you run an increased risk of a criminal stealing your stuff for profit.

Since rapists appear to be motivated by hatred of women, no individual woman can identify the risk at any given time or take specific measures to reduce it.

AutumnFire Tue 17-Dec-13 18:04:06

I don't think we will ever get rid of rapists/rape completely.

But we can turn our attentions to ways of minimising it. Identifying factors that make men more likely to rape, and addressing those.

Most preventative measures that people advocate really only have any impact on the rape-by-stranger scenario, which not only is less common than rape-by-acquaintance, but also does nothing to reduce the number of victims, just perhaps helps to make someone else's wife/mother/daughter the target rather than you.

We need to take a closer look at the men who become rapists, rather than the women who get raped.

feathermucker Tue 17-Dec-13 18:26:20

It's basic common sense; certainly NOT victim blaming hmm

CailinDana Tue 17-Dec-13 18:28:17

The main problem I have with "rape prevention" advice is that it makes people believe that the stranger dragging you off the street scenario is actually something you should be worried about. It's not. It is such a rare crime that worrying about it or taking measures to prevent it doesn't really make sense.
But it suits the rapists very well that everyone thinks that rape = dragged off the street by a stranger because it allows them to get away with their crime a lot more easily as both victims and society in general are very slow to recognise the much much more common scenarios of rape, the ones where someone a woman knows and trusts violates that trust in their own home or in the home of a friend.
By connecting rape with drinking, clothing, walking on dark streets etc you are making life easier for rapists, which is not something most normal people would want, I think.

Advice that would actually help to prevent rape, IMO, is the following:
Women: you have the right at all times, no matter what, to dictate what happens to your body. Absolutely no one, no matter who they are or how many times you have had sex with them in the past, has the right to do anything to your body that you do not want or are not happy with. If anyone does do anything to your body that you do not want (and this includes health care providers, your parents, and your husband) you have every right to tell them to stop, and if you wish to, to make a complaint and seek prosecution. Sex is entirely optional. You are entitled to refuse to engage in any sort of sexual activity at any time and for any reason. Even if you have agreed to have sex or even started to have sex you do not have to continue. If you ask someone to stop, they should stop. Every time. You should not feel embarrassed if you are among friends and you need to "cause a fuss" in order to stop someone to stop doing something you are not happy with. Sex you don't want is rape even if you never say "no." The onus is on your partner to ensure you are happy, the onus is not on you to stop them. Normal kind men will not continue to have sex with someone who is silent and unresponsive or someone who is crying. If they "didn't know" you didn't consent, think carefully, could that possibly be true? Probably not.

Quoteunquote Tue 17-Dec-13 18:40:28

I always really dislike the "Don't drink and drive",

Basic psychology not to use "Don"t" as it tends to make people react challenge accepted, I would like to see, "Drive sober"

we need more of these type of campaigns

LeBFG Tue 17-Dec-13 19:00:17

Stranger rape isn't all that rare actually, about 1 in 10 from estimates. Outside marital rape, an 'acquaintance' rape can include someone you know only barely: on a course together, a friend of a friend. So saying getting paralytic won't help your chances of getting raped is untrue.

The problem is there is a good reason why we want to reduce the perception of victim blaming but if everything related to rape 'advice' and analysis (studies, publishing statistics and advice to keep safe) is labelled 'victim blaming' the effect is to silence a lot of stuff which may keep women safer.

For instance, the age thing is pretty important. Most rapes happen to young women. Certain sort of rape advice could be targeted at specific age groups but this is currently politically incorrect.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 19:07:10

Stranger rape of 1 in 10 would be shockingly high.
Even if 1 on 10 women, that would be about 3.5 million by my estimates.

LeBFG Tue 17-Dec-13 19:10:34

Indeed - I checked the stat from the rape crisis site but it corroborates with other sources. Obviously, these are only estimates because prosecuted rapes over-represent stranger rapes.

TheGhostOfPortoPast Tue 17-Dec-13 19:20:20

1 in ten of rapes - not women!

AutumnFire Tue 17-Dec-13 19:26:16

I don't think anything women do about themselves is going to reduce the number of rapists, nor the number of times they seek to satiate their desire to dominate/humiliate.

As an individual, yes you can look at ways of reducing your individual risk of any person-on-person crime, whether you are a man or a woman. But this won't reduce the number of victims, just possibly shift the targets around a bit.

As people, as a society, if we want to reduce rape itself, we should be looking at how to prevent/reduce/manage the number of perpetrators.

CailinDana Tue 17-Dec-13 19:29:47

Yes it's 1 in 10 reported rapes. For many reasons stranger rape is far more likely to be reported than any other type. But even if 1 in 10 of every rape ever was stranger rape that would still mean 9 in 10 are not. So why focus on stranger rape when it is far far far less likely to happen?

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 19:47:18

Oh I see. Not 1 in 10 of the population. 1 in 10 of rapes is stranger rape.

Interesting stats on here.

Golddigger Tue 17-Dec-13 19:48:56

Massive apologies. They look to be USA figures.

FortyDoorsToNowhere Tue 17-Dec-13 19:59:50

If someone broke into my car and stole a CD or some lose change, I would be upset but thanks to my insurance I will get the window/lock changed and a CD i could burn from my back up files. Same as anything in my house.

If I was to get raped, I was not to blame and I can't get that back.

CailinDana Tue 17-Dec-13 20:08:50

To get back to the original post, I see what you're saying rpitchfo. I agree with others that advice such as "don't leave valuables in your car" is not victim blaming because leaving valuables in your car is clearly linked in a totally uncomplicated way to those valuables having a high possibility of being stolen. Plus it isn't a great hassle for people to ensure that valuable things are hidden or put away. By contrast there is no evidence whatsoever that being drunk has any link with a greater possibility of being raped. The fact is, if valuables are in a car then they can get stolen. There is nothing to say that if you aren't drunk you won't get raped or if you are drunk you will. Some women who are raped are drunk, some are not. Until rapists actually explain their thinking there is no way to tell in what circumstances being drunk or sober does or does not prevent rape. So saying to women that they shouldn't get drunk in order to prevent rape is pointless because there's no evidence for that. The only thing such "advice" does is make women feel afraid of something that is unlikely to happen and to make those few unlucky ones that do happen to be raped and were drunk at the time feel responsible for what happened because they didn't take the "advice".

TheGhostOfPortoPast Tue 17-Dec-13 21:37:08

I have a thought A LOT about this from the feminist pov. I have a daughter but no sons. Even if I had sons, I would give them all the same advice. Never go off alone with someone you don.t know. Never drink so much you don.t know what you are doing. Keep your personal property close to you at all times. Don't go off the beaten track alone/call a recognised taxi to get home.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 17-Dec-13 21:54:36


HombreLobo Tue 17-Dec-13 21:54:48

I would be upset but thanks to my insurance I will get the window/lock changed

It actually would depend on the terms of your insurance. There are plenty of 'victim blaming' clauses within insurance polices, e.g. they won't always pay out if you have an alarm and it wasn't set when the house was unattended, or if you leave the car running on the driveway to defrost the windscreen and it gets stolen

bumbleymummy Tue 17-Dec-13 22:44:12

Autumsn "My assertion is that: "Preventative measures that are aimed at, and restrict only women (in this case), to the detriment of their basic freedoms as a person (such as where they can go, when they can go, and what they should wear), are not reasonable"

But if you're talking about women getting raped then of course you are going to aim advice about reducing risk at them. I'm not saying that you should tell them where they can and can't go and certainly not what they should/shouldn't wear but advising certain precautions is not to curb their freedom - they just happen to be more at risk of being raped.

bumbleymummy Tue 17-Dec-13 22:45:43

garlic baubles " It may make you walk into an oncoming lorry, fall down steps, or be a target for opportunistic criminals. That could include rapists.

garlicbaubles Tue 17-Dec-13 23:58:04

Yes, I know. It also includes muggers and people looking for a fight.

TheBigJessie Wed 18-Dec-13 01:15:30

I think you're equivocating two very different messages.

If I leave a wallet somewhere visible, no-one will tell me "it isn't proper theft and you were asking for it" or "it's not fair to report it to the police, when you tempted that thief into stealing". With crimes against property, the general public is able to distinguish between crime prevention and moral blame. They are able to recognise that a car thief only knew a door door was unlocked because he tried it, and he'd already decided to steal a car that night.

With rape, advice on making yourself seem a harder target (so that the rapist picks another woman to rape) is bound up with ideas that the victim made the rapist do it. I've even seen incidents with particularly naive UNDER-AGE girls raped by previously convicted sex offenders referred to as "it's a tragedy but it's a victimless crime" which encapsulates this idea that if you didn't reduce your risk of rape as much as possible you aren't a victim of crime.

LeBFG Wed 18-Dec-13 07:27:05

Until rapists actually explain their thinking there is no way to tell in what circumstances being drunk or sober does or does not prevent rape.

Research like this is suppressed by some feminists because they don't like the results.

Rape occurs much more frequently in the young and vulnerable. It is highly associated with drugs/alcohol. We don't hear this message.

So saying to women that they shouldn't get drunk in order to prevent rape is pointless because there's no evidence for that.

1000's of women get drunk every evening without getting raped. However, you can reduce your personal risk by getting paralytic with good friends who you know will look after you.

The only thing such "advice" does is make women feel afraid of something that is unlikely to happen and to make those few unlucky ones that do happen to be raped and were drunk at the time feel responsible for what happened because they didn't take the "advice" That is ONE unfortunate result but is not the ONLY result.

CailinDana Wed 18-Dec-13 07:58:57

I'd be really interested to see that research LeBFG, can you link to it?

Golddigger Wed 18-Dec-13 08:06:56

Dont leave valuables in your car.

If you do, you increase the likelihood of them being stolen. In that particular case, you increase the likelihood from a starting point of 0.

Lovecat Wed 18-Dec-13 08:26:02

Gosh, I never realised we "feminists" (that sneaky, homogeneous group of wimmin all hellbent on destroying society as we know it) had such power that 'we' can suppress actual research. Who'da thought it? confused

There have been quite a few insulting and outright silly comments about feminists on this thread and what 'they' believe. Feminism is a broad church. However, one thing that most of "us" seem to agree on is that rape is the fault of rapists, not the 'fault' of us being women - after all, short of a sex-change/staying locked in a panic room all our lives, there isn't much we can do about being women.

I might draw people's attention to the Mumsnet 'We Believe You' campaign, and also the many threads about rape myths. Rape myths are damaging because they inculcate the belief that "If I don't do xyz and I do do abc, then it won't happen to me" - unfortunately, as the 1 in 10 stranger rape figure shows, most rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, generally in their own homes, so staying sober/modestly dressed/home after dark is hardly a guarantee of safety.

It's never a good idea to be incapacitatingly drunk because, as someone said upthread, you could get run over/fall over and hurt yourself/choke on your vomit/any number of harmful things could happen. It doesn't mean you are to blame for getting raped. That takes the active action of another party.

I do, however, think that having stuff stolen from your car IS the fault of the thief.

LeBFG Wed 18-Dec-13 09:01:23

FFS - NO ONE on this thread is remotely saying it is the fault of the drunk woman she got raped!!!

LeBFG Wed 18-Dec-13 09:16:34

I've read the age statistic multiple times, but here is a link. As for alcohol/drugs, here is one link. It's hardly surprising that our judgements like reaction to red flags in behaviour, whether to go into a man's flat alone and so on are affected by alcohol. It's not surprising that rapists choose women who are incapacitated and vulnerable (young, away from close friends, unable to fight back meaningfully/shout out etc).

Fleta Wed 18-Dec-13 09:20:30

When we went away to university we had a "be careful of yourself talk". It was a mixed gender talk.

We were all given advice such as "always carry an emergency £10 hidden in your purse/wallet so you can get home", "don't go off by yourself if you're drunk" and the basic away from home advice such as "lock your door when you're out", "don't leave heated beauty products on when you go out".

Then the girl who was doing it (who was our "dorm mother" so 21) said "now I'm going to give you some gender specific advice: - GIRLS - if someone makes you uncomfortable do NOT go anywhere alone with them. BOYS - if you aren't sure whether a girl has said "yes" better assume she means "no""

I always thought that was really sensible.

Advice that prevents a crime isn't victim blaming - it is reduction of risk. If I go out and lock up and get broken into, my insurance will pay out. If I go out and leave my door wide open and get burgled, the insurance won't pay out. It isn't victim blaming to suggest people take responsibility and minimise risk in any one situation

Golddigger Wed 18-Dec-13 09:26:59

Insurance companies and the police are "victims" in the leave your valuables in the car scenario. And they would like to reduce the risk and cost.
Particularly the police, who dont have a chance to get their money and time and resources back. Hence the campaign.

I presume that if all people leave valuables in the car, and then dont claim on insurance, and dont report to the police, then no one would bother to run a campaign. There wouldnt be any need.

Re "isnt proper theft/you were asking to have it stolen" not being said to victims of theft, i have heard both, from people who left belongings (a pram in one case, a bike in another) in their gardens. Both said no point contacting police as there would be no likely prosecution anyway, and felt they would be made to feel it was their own fault for not following advice. Sounds pretty similar to me.

The trouble with any advice though, is the fault of people who victim blame if the advice is not followed, not the fault of the people trying to prevent the problems. You don't know which camp people (the police and general public) will fall into though, and the fear that they may blame you affects your decision, and you don't make a fuss just in case

That looks like a big long jumble of words to me, hope you can make sense of it.... fblush

Golddigger Wed 18-Dec-13 10:08:52

People can help themselves up to a point, [sometimes a big point as in leaving valuables in a car], not to be a victim.

That is not the same as victim blaming.

Callani Wed 18-Dec-13 12:52:47

I think advice about how to help yourself can be useful, I think it is good for both men and women to be aware of where they are, not get too drunk, stay in contact with friends etc because there are risks to such actions - for example men are more likely to suffer GBH, and there's also the risk of being robbed or generally getting into other trouble.

However other advice such as "well just don't wear short skirts" is pre-emptive victim blaming, as it assumes that the rape is caused by the skirt rather than by the intent of the rapist.

As for signs that say "remove valuables from car, lock windows" etc, I'd say they're pretty different as you can remove your iPod from your car, but its a bit trickier to remove your vagina!

And as PPs have said, there's a massive difference talking about people and objects. When a nutter killed my BF's dog, she was informed that although he would be done for animal cruelty, it was actually classed as "destruction of property" and not animal murder because animals are apparently belongings. People who equate rape to theft, in my mind, are classing women as objects in a similar way.

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