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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

"she should have been more careful"

37 replies

Valpollicella · 25/05/2012 23:41

I just need to vent and think here would be the best place.

On the news earlier was a story about a rapist who has recently been convicted. He met two of his victims through internet dating. My mothers commentary to the report was "well maybe she should have been more careful"

I swear I have never neen more shocked at something she has said. Ive told her she is essentially blaming the victims. Her counter argument was that"well she shouldnt have gone off with him without telling anyone" and "well she should have been more careful"

bangs head against nearest wall

Im so so annoyed that someone who is such a feminist in so many ways can think this way.

OP posts:
Valpollicella · 25/05/2012 23:43

And it makes me really think. Should it ever happen to me, whst would her reaction be? Sorry for the rar. Just so pissed off right now

OP posts:
Valpollicella · 25/05/2012 23:43

Rar? Rant

OP posts:
KRITIQ · 25/05/2012 23:54

I know what you mean. Sometimes, I think this kind of reaction is almost a self-protection mechanism. You kind of trick your mind into thinking that something awful won't happen to you because you are different from the victim. You wouldn't go where they did. They weren't careful, but I would be.

Sometimes it's easier to try and pin part of the blame on someone you don't know than acknowledge that you could be vulnerable.

Just a thought.

Valpollicella · 26/05/2012 00:13

Thanks Kritiq. Youre absolutely right with her mentality and 'ir wouldnylt happen to me because 'I wouldnt go in an alley'. I pointed out to her that victims dpnt het the choie and that she has an alley next to her house!

OP posts:
teaaddict2012 · 26/05/2012 09:52

I don't actually think she is trying to blame the victim maybe just shocked that someone would be stupid enough to go off in a intimate way with someone they barely know. That doesn't make the rapist any less guilty or the girls any less stupid.

I'm guessing your mother didnt grow up in the internet age. The idea of talking to someone online and then choosing to meet them fills her with shock and horror as it goes against most peoples basic instincts.

teaaddict2012 · 26/05/2012 09:52
  • didn't
QueenEdith · 26/05/2012 10:16

That the initial contact was online is irrelevant, and as we don't know much about the actual circumstances of their meetings, so she has made a sweeping over-generalisation.

But there is an important truth in the regular security advice that you cannot know whether someone is what they seem from how they portray themselves on line, and that you should meet initially in well-frequented public places and you should not go off alone with someone you barely know.

SardineQueen · 26/05/2012 15:49

Oh parents.

When I was about 17 a girl was raped near our house and the police came door door.

My mum said "what sort of girl is out at 2am by herself anyway" and my dad and brother nodded and agreed and I said "Well I am, someone like me" and that made them stop and think a bit.

IAmBooybilee · 26/05/2012 15:55

"And it makes me really think. Should it ever happen to me, whst would her reaction be?"

this is exactly why i will never tell my parents about any of the abuse/assaults that have happened to me.

my mum would say exactly the same as yours "she shoud have been more careful/silly girl/what did she expect?" it drives me up teh wall when something comes on the news and this is her reaction.

SardineQueen · 26/05/2012 18:24


I would certainly not tell my parents anything, and especially after that comment.

beansmum · 27/05/2012 22:25

Is she blaming the victims though? Thinking someone should not have gone off with a strange man without telling anyone is not the same as thinking it is their fault if they then get raped. I don't know the details of the case, the victims might have told people and met the man in public places and still been raped. The rapist is equally to blame whatever the situation.

Maybe your mum is just pointing out that it is stupid to meet a stranger without taking steps to protect yourself. But, the rapist is still a rapist, and completely to blame, however stupid his victim might be.

havingabath · 28/05/2012 07:09

'Stupid' is a horrible word to use beansmum, it isn't stupid to meet a stranger without telling anyone. It isn't mainly strangers who rape and the women who have been assaulted by strangers are attack victims not anything else.

One way or another we spend our lives meeting strangers. I have met, dated, got drunk with, gone home with, shared beds with, got naked with strange men and haven't in these circumstances been raped or assaulted. It wasn't luck. Normal men don't do this, their behaviour doesn't change when faced with a woman alone, naked or drunk.

I don't believe the attacks that I have suffered were much influenced by luck more by predatory attackers and without them we would all be fine.

havingabath · 28/05/2012 07:12

and Val am sorry your mother articulates this:( Mine probably would too, I think she believes that 'good' girs can keep themselves safe. Grrrrrr

teaaddict2012 · 28/05/2012 09:03

I Agree with beansmum, the internet age has created another way for people with poor instincts and low protection to lured to meet predators.

Thumbwitch · 28/05/2012 09:13

I battle with this. Because while I don't in any way condone victim blaming, and fully understand that the only one to blame for rape is the rapist, there is enough info out there that gives you hints on how to try to keep yourself safe.
And yes, none of this would be a problem if there weren't predatory men out there - but there are and it's futile to pretend (or even hope) otherwise.
So - accepting that they exist, and that there is a chance you might be unlucky enough to meet one, it makes sense to let someone know when you're meeting an unknown quantity, doesn't it?
That still doesn't guarantee your safety, of course not - but it might help if something did go wrong.

thechairmanmeow · 28/05/2012 09:25

it's an incredibly sensitive situation, as soon as anyone suggests any steps women can take to avoid rape the ritious army wade in with accusations of victim blaming.
if you dont fit better locks on your house and you get burgled, if the police suggest that you do indeed fit better locks you wouldnt assume the police thought you had it comming.

rapists dont have 'rapist' tatooed on their foreheads we dont know who they are, only that we dont want the women close to us to get raped by one ( or any women for that matter).

"One way or another we spend our lives meeting strangers. I have met, dated, got drunk with, gone home with, shared beds with, got naked with strange men and haven't in these circumstances been raped or assaulted. It wasn't luck. Normal men don't do this, their behaviour doesn't change when faced with a woman alone, naked or drunk."

this is what having a bath said, i agree with this also, when i think back to 'one night stands' i had when i was young, the girls were taking a hell of a risk really, i mean they diddnt really know who i was. but in that heady hormone fulled world of teenage and 20's dateing girls and boys will end up in the same place some nights, so risks will be taken.
it is something of a minefield, dateing, and so on, a woman shouldnt have to email a freind to tell them where there going and with who, if say it's a first date, but unfortunatly thats the world we live in, probobly better to stay safe.

as for "what kind of girl is out at 2am" this is incredible, as though if your out late you deserve to be raped, most good parties dont finish until much later than 2 am, when your young anyway. of course young people will be walking home after that.

rape victims are never to blame.

AliceHurled · 28/05/2012 11:24

Right. So I am most likely to be raped by someone I know. What steps would you like me to take to keep me safe? Logically that would involve not spending too much time with people I know. Or maybe I could wear some kind of chastity belt.

That is why such advice is victim blaming nonsense. And why an analogy to burglary is pointless.

havingabath · 28/05/2012 11:25

Telling someone where you are does nothing to keep you safe other than in cases of moutainering, orienteering etc.

thechairmanmeow · 28/05/2012 12:15

telling someone where you are doesnt keep yopu safe in it'self but it would help a criminal case.

havingabath · 28/05/2012 14:52

No it wouldn't, it is irrelevant.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius · 28/05/2012 15:17

I think that there is a difference between taking a sensible amount of care for one's own personal safety (regardless of gender), and victim blaming. For example, I have told my boys that excessive alchohol consumption can lead to you making bad decisions, and sometimes those can cause you harm or cause someone else harm. So it is sensible to moderate your alchohol intake, so you can make safer decisions. But if someone who is very drunk is attacked by someone else, it is still the attacker who is at fault, not the victim.

I used to be part of the fetish community, and members from that community used to meet up with people who they'd met online, for sexual/fetish 'play' sessions - and the website I belonged to was red hot on informing people how to be as safe as possible when meeting someone who was, essentially, a stranger, one-to-one. The advice was to let someone else know where you are going, who you are meeting etc, to meet for the first time in a public place, and with no expectation of 'play' happening at that first meeting, and to set up a 'safe call' - so at a particular time you had to ring the friend and let them know you were OK. This advice wasn't aimed at women in particular - it was aimed at anyone who was meeting a stranger with the intention, eventually, of being in a very intimate situation with them - and the basis of the advice was caution - and I think that that is spot on.

Everyone should take sensible precautions to care for their own safety - we owe that to ourselves.

wamster · 28/05/2012 15:42

I've considered this a lot and the conclusion I have reached is this:
It doesn't make much difference what women do to protect themselves from rapists. If there was any connection to being raped and getting drunk, women would be raped by every man they came into contact with when drunk. Most men don't rape a drunk woman because they are not rapists. Yet women who go out covered in head to foot still get raped.
This may sound fatalistic, but it is the truth: the situations may vary, but it is the rapist who will find a way to rape whatever the situation and circumstance.

The 'what was she thinking?!' argument needs to be knocked down whenever it is said/implied. Because I don't care what anybody says about this, it is victim-blaming to say such things.

havingabath · 28/05/2012 16:17

I agree wamster, absolutely. Also and without any reference to the case Val's mother commented on, how a person chooses to 'take sensible precautions' is an entirely personal decision.

As women we can make our own decisions about how we behave, I have never had a one night stand but a great friend has had plenty. By definition she usually would meet the man, hang out and if she wanted to would go to his house and have sex. This is almost certainly 'riskier' than my take out on the sofa but both are equally valid decisions that doesn't make either of us culpable should either of our evenings end in rape. She enjoys the benefits of the no strings sex, takes her phone, doesn't get too drunk and would consider her own safe guards adequate. I enjoy the benefits of a fine curry and open my front door to a transient member of staff, paid cash in hand and possibly with no legal right to be here (they have had their kitchen staff depleted after a few raids) and I don't think either of us is likely to meet a rapist and if we do isn't because of a lack of self care.

It is victim blaming to even explore whether it was the victim's stupidity that caused the rape. Progress was made when it became legally explicit that husbands can rape, that children can be raped, that prostitutes can be raped, that drunk women can be raped and that clothing is irrelevant. These principles aren't assured either in prosecution or public support but they should be as rapists rape and believing that you can or anyone can prevent your own rape by sensible decision making is naive. I think Krittiq makes a good point on this up thread.

AThingInYourLife · 28/05/2012 16:29

"If there was any connection to being raped and getting drunk, women would be raped by every man they came into contact with when drunk."

Sorry, but that is illogical bullshit.

There is a connection between being drunk and getting a hangover, but that doesn't mean that any time someone gets drunk they will definitely get a hangover.

People who are drunk are more vulnerable. That's why some would-be rapists try to get women (or young girls) pissed before they take advantage of them.

The problem with the "she was stupid" response is not that there is never any truth in it, but that it is the first thing many (good, decent, thinking) people think or say when they hear about a rape.

The first response is to think about how the woman could have avoided being raped, rather than to feel sympathy with her ordeal, or anger at her attacker.

The cultural assumption that it is up to women to stop men raping them is still very much alive and well, even in people who think they know better.

I had this argument with DH last night. He tried to insist that it wasn't victim blaming to think it was silly of a young girl to go to a "party"'with a man she knew only vaguely.

But it was - she did what plenty of young people do every weekend. She wasn't being stupid, just naive and young and trusting.

PrematurelyAirconditioned · 28/05/2012 16:51

I'm with Thumbwitch, there's a distinction between the awful "what kind of girl is out at 2am?"/"well she probably led him on"/"did you see what she was wearing" classic victim blaming, where the victim is seen to have literally created the rape and the "mum's eye view" which is that evil rapist bastards, like drink drivers and dogs with rabies on holiday, are inevitable facts of life which you need to be aware of when deciding whether to, eg jump in a random "minicab" at the end of the night. Maybe they won't always be facts of life, maybe they'll be eliminated along with rabies, but I plan to warn my DD that such things exist.

OP's mum was BVU, because for all she knows the victims could have taken all reasonable precautions.

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