By Rayiah Ross, originally published by the Benicia Paw
Victim blaming is seen in the criminal justice system all the time, whether it’s racial discrimination or sexual assault. Victim blaming is everywhere in our judicial system today. The phrase that angers me the most is, “She asked for it,” because these four words have way more power than they should. When it comes to sexual assault, these words take away from the fact that the predator did the crime, causing justice to often not be served.
As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had completed rape and females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. These rates are constantly increasing and justice is not being served. I believe it is completely unfair that women are accused of being the problem when someone else took advantage of THEIR body. Typical accusations are that she was walking alone at night, wearing tight clothing, drinking, and being promiscuous. Because of these accusations girls are taught at a young age to walking in groups and to keep are guard up around men. Girls are taught that ‘men can’t control themselves’ and that women should protect themselves. Instead, we should be teaching boys how to properly treat a women and that rape and sexual assault are not okay.
“She asked for it,” is a cowardice saying that gets women to blame themselves from something that was not their choice but someone else’s. Continuing from that I would like to point out the fact that rape is a choice just like theft and other crimes. It is not something the predator is unaware of, it is a malicious act that leaves trauma and regret. 94% of women who are raped experience PTSD after they are raped. And through all of this trauma and pain, many rape victims feel alone or haven’t told anyone about their assault for fear of being embarrassed and the fear of not being believed. This all leads to the sad statistic that 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. This victim blaming is causing the real problem, the predators, to walk free on the street waiting to assault another person.
Don’t get me wrong, men are raped too. A recent study shows that about 3% of american men have experienced an attempted or complete rape in their lifetime. Victim blaming does apply to them to, it’s just that because rape is rare in men, “HE asked for it,” isn’t as likely to be said. Male and child rape is something not spoken about very often. In fact, only 12% of child sexual abuse is reported about to the authorities. I am not degrading male rape nor am I ignoring the fact that it does happen, but no one can ignore the fact that double standards and rape in women is extremely prominent.
A woman’s clothing or circumstance has nothing to do with whether she is sexually available and saying that clothing carries this intent is not only wrong, it is offensive and unacceptable. No, she did not ask for it, and the fact that anyone has the audacity to say that phrase is sickening. We need to preach the fact that you cannot judge a person off of what they’re wearing and that consent does not lie in clothing. People should stop asking clothes and circumstance for consent and they should start asking girls.
Statistics by Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine