I started to watch a programme about British serial killer Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper) recently, & something that was shown in the archive footage at the beginning made my blood boil, & I turned it off in disgust. This woman (a local, I assume), said something to the effect of how a bad man is a bad man, but a bad woman is a bloody sight worse, & someone else (male) said that the victims were of dubious moral character, or words to that effect. Just because Sutcliffe’s victims were prostitutes, it doesn’t mean they deserved to be murdered. This is classic victim-blaming. What is it going to take for people to focus on the perpetrator rather than the victim?
My mum doesn’t believe that girls are sexually harassed on the way to school unless they “wear short skirts” and are “looking for attention”. This is why I could never tell her when I was harrassed by boys in my school because she would just blame me for their behaviour, when all I wanted was for them to leave me alone. I tried to explain that this happens to girls and women no matter what we are wearing and we don’t need to have done or said anything to attract unwanted attention, but I don’t think she believes me. I want to buy a copy of “Everyday Sexism” the book and leave it where she can read it.
I’ve been reading my local police force’s website recently (which is quite interesting, to be fair), & went onto the section about personal safety. In the section about staying safe while out for the night, there’s the usual implicit victim-blaming stuff along the lines of “remember that alcohol can affect your actions and reactions as well as reduce your ability to be alert – alcohol is the most common date rape drug”, “Don’t drink so much that you are unable to say NO!”, “consider very carefully whether you should leave the pub, club or party with someone you have only just met”, “If you look and act drunk you are more vulnerable – drink responsibly”, etc., etc. Instead of telling people to modify their behaviour to avoid ‘appearing vulnerable’ & therefore be in danger of being raped, how about telling rapists to modify theirs & not rape people?! The piece of ‘advice’ about considering very carefully whether you should leave a pub or wherever with someone you’ve only just met could also be quite triggering for someone who got raped/sexually assaulted on a night out by somebody they met in said establishment, & make them blame themselves even more than they do already for what happened to them. https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/advice/your-personal-safety/staying-safe-while-out-for-the-night/ In a similar vein, I was watching an episode of Crimes That Shook Britain recently, about murderer & rapist Angus Sinclair. He met his victims (2 teenage girls) in a pub, & they left the pub with him, after which he raped & murdered them. One of the policemen on the show talking about the case said that that was the worst decision they could’ve made. Victim-blaming much? Why not tell men not to rape & murder teenage girls, instead of criticising victims of rape & murder for leaving pubs with their killers/rapists, & berating them for making ‘bad choices/decisions’? I ask you! And we wonder why rape victims don’t come forward, & why conviction rates are crap. I’m really beginning to despair of the police, frankly.
I was watching a YouTube video entitled Top 15 Abuse Public Service Announcements recently, & felt as though a couple of them implicitly victim-blamed. One featured a man going up to a bar & chatting up a woman, & the voiceover woman said that we’ve just seen a rapist in action, then we see the man approaching the woman again & dropping a pill in her drink while he’s talking to her. The moral of that story is, apparently, ‘watch your drink’. Um, instead of telling women to watch their drinks, why not tell men not to approach random women in bars, drop pills in their drinks & take them off somewhere & rape them?! And there was another one about dodgy cabs in London, where there’s a male driver talking to camera about how he’s been in trouble with the law as he’s driving along, & says that having sexual assault convictions doesn’t stop him picking up women in his cab (or words to that effect), before stopping & picking a woman up. At the end, there is writing on the screen saying “know what you’re getting into?” & adjures women to get a black cab, a night bus or ring a number to find their local minicab office. Instead of doing that, why not do more to stop unlicensed minicab drivers plying their trade, & tell dodgy cab drivers not to pick up women with the intention of sexually assaulting them?! Although whether they’d listen is debatable. To be fair, there was an anti-rape one created by the Welsh Government, entitled ‘Stop Blaming The Victim’, where we see a man & a woman on a night out together (they met in a club), & the story of what happened that evening is told from both their points of view. Predictably, the man makes excuses for his behaviour- what the woman was wearing, the fact that she asked him to walk her home & invited him in, the fact that she’d had several shots in the club, etc., etc. (i.e. the usual victim-blaming twaddle that rapists come out with to justify their actions)- & saw nothing wrong with what he’d done because he thought that she was ‘asking for it’ on the aforementioned grounds, while the woman was shocked & upset about what had happened, & never thought it would go that far, or words to that effect. This ad obviously did NOT blame the victim, on the grounds that the general message in it was that we need to STOP doing that (agree!)!
I walked out of a bar with a man I’d been grinding with. He invites me to go home with him. I ask him where, then say no, because it’s far [I don’t have a car]. I invite him to my place, and say it’s only about ten/fifteen minutes walk. He wants to come, but would rather drive. Fine. I get in his car, and give him directions. He doesn’t turn when he’s supposed to. I tell him he missed the turn, and try to give new directions. It’s fine, he says. I’ll turn around at the intersection, he says. He doesn’t. I’m starting to panic. He tries to convince me to just go to his place. I say no, but he keeps driving toward it anyway. I tell him to let me out of his car, and he keeps trying to talk me into going to his place. I say no again, and he still doesn’t let me out. “Let me out right now or I am getting out of your moving car.” I’m holding my phone, ready to call 911. He slows down, and I don’t know if it was to let me out or to turn or for a stop sign or what. But it’s a safer chance to get out than I had 20 seconds ago, so I take it. The car is still moving, but I unlock the door and jump out, stumble, and run. The man is completely shocked at me. He yelled something after me, but I don’t remember what. Once I’m a couple blocks away, I see his car again, and he slows down to talk to me. He says something to try to get me to get back in. I yell no and run. He finally drives away. I call a friend and keep him on the phone, telling him where I am, until I’m back downtown again, where people are still up and around. I get home and lock the door, and let the friend know I’m home safe. I’m shaken, and it takes me a while, but eventually I calm down, and I think about how this is the world that I live in. This man refused to let me out of his car and yet thinks I’M the one whose behaviour is wrong for not still wanting to fuck him after he lied to me about where he was taking me, and for getting the hell away from him. I imagine him telling his friends about this encounter, only in his interpretation of it, I’m a crazy bitch who got out of a moving car, and worse, a tease. The next day I told one of the men I live with what happened – because we were friends or at least friendly, because I wanted to tell somewhat about what I could barely believe had happened, because he’s a man and I think men need to hear from women about how men hurt women (so that they won’t hurt women, and so they will call out other men). He criticized my judgement for going home with the man.
A couple days ago I wore an outfit I felt really cute in. It was a black, long sleeved Japanese school girl uniform with a cute red bow, black and white lace stockings covered with a leather jacket. Yesterday my mom saw a photo of my outfit and said word for word “If you wear that you’re asking to be raped.”
I was inappropriately touched at my brother’s wedding by an elderly relative of the bride. It was the reception, and we had just been introduced. He held his hand out for me to shake and I shook it. Instead of letting go of my hand, he held on and said ‘turn around’. I was confused for a moment, when he said ‘there’s sand on the back of your dress’. As I turned to look at the back of my dress, he grabbed by arm and turned me away so I couldn’t see it. I began to protest that I hadn’t sat in any sand, but he was already running his hand forcefully down my lower back and over my arse. He did this three times. The skirt of my dress was full and sat out quite a way from my body. He pressed so hard that the stiff fabric moved back against my body, and the force pushed my hips forward. As this was happening, I was looking my uncle straight in the eye. He did nothing. After the perpetrator finished, I glared at him. He responded with ‘oh, I told your dad about it.’ About a minute after the incident, I went to my uncle and said ‘you hold him, I’ll hit him’. He looked very uncomfortable and didn’t make eye contact. He said ‘yes, I could see you didn’t look…’ he didn’t finish his sentence and turned away awkwardly. I then went to find my father. I asked my father if the perpetrator had spoken to him about sand on the back of my dress. He said no. I told him what had happened, and my father said ‘yes, he’s a really sleazy old bastard’. I said I was aware of that, and repeated what had just happened. My father then said ‘don’t let it get to you, don’t let it spoil your night. Move on. There are plenty of men like that in the world.’ I replied that I was well aware of how many men there were like that in the world, but the conversation ended there and I was frustrated that, once again and as always, nothing was going to happen to the man who touched me inappropriately. I logged on my extremely restricted private Facebook page and posted a #MeToo post, briefly summarising what had happened, and in a response to a friend’s comment alluded to the identity of the perpetrator. The responses from my close friends got me through the rest of the night sitting so close to the old man who had touched me, and I felt supported. The next day, my mother received a text message from the bride demanding that I remove the post. My mother, father, the bride and her family began to blame me for ruining the wedding. According to my mother, my uncle denied any knowledge of the assault. My mother and father told me to take the post down and apologise to the bride and her family. I refused. My father offered to help me get justice, but only if I apologised to the bride and explained my actions. Again, I refused. For the next 20 hours I sheltered in my room in our shared accommodation while my father raged at me through the door. He said these things should be dealt with quietly and privately, not on social media for the whole world to see. He said I was a coward, and that perhaps that was why I experience sexual assault so often. When I asked if he honestly thought that was why I was repeatedly sexually assaulted as a 19/20 year old by someone twice my age at work (I provided graphic details which I do not feel comfortable sharing here), he told me I was stupid. I had never told my father of my experience of sexual assault before. His response was to call me ‘stupid’. With the help of a family member and friends I was able to exit the accommodation and return to my home in another state. I have not heard anything from my family since the incident. That my own family could victim-blame like this shocks and disgusts me more than I can articulate. In the scheme of my experiences, this was a minor incident, but and incident none the less. How badly does a family member need to be violated before you will not blame them for speaking out? Is it just when the incident occurs at a special event that we must stay quiet? Personally, I would have preferred to kick him to the ground and stand with my heel to his throat until he announced to the entire reception what he had just done. I didn’t do that. I didn’t create a scene. It was my brother’s wedding. I didn’t want to spoil the day. Is posting a #MeToo post on my private Facebook page after the fact really ruining the wedding? Of course not. This is just more pathetic victim-blaming.
I need feminism because when I was 4, we learned the colours. After class, a group of boys came up to me and asked what my favourite colour was. I said “blue” and and one of them replied, “you can’t like blue, it’s a boy colour”. Upon telling him that my dad’s favourite colour was purple, I was told, “your dad must be a girl then”. I didn’t tell my dad because I thought that being compared to a girl would upset him too much. My dad is a feminist. I need feminism because when I was 13, my class worked on a project with NATS AIS. In the final stage of the competition, I was transferred into a group with 6 boys ‘for representation’. As project manager of my last team, I assumed that I’d have some creative input and delegation opportunities. I was put on research with a guy who played 2048 the whole time but still took full credit for the work I did. One lesson, the project manager was away so I took it upon myself to show some initiative and start the PowerPoint presentation. The next day, it had been deleted without a thought and a new one was being made; it was exactly the same but grammatically incorrect. When I tried to argue, I was called bossy and told to ‘get back in the kitchen or wherever [I was] supposed to be’. I need feminism because I saw the bewildered look on Harvey’s face when I did better than him on a physics test., despite the fact that I had beaten him on every science test beforehand. He used to call me dumb every lesson, still does. He just can’t believe that a somewhat attractive girl has the capacity to be good at science. Or maybe his ego’s just big. I need feminism because a girl I go to school with got raped by a boy in our year. For three weeks leading up to the event, she had reported him to the school 6 times for touching her inappropriately in class, she even had witnesses. He got a ‘serious talking to’ and nothing more. He wasn’t even moved away from her in class. She came into school crying and she stopped talking for a few days. One of our mutual friends got really mad at her for ‘being over-dramatic and complaining too much’. When I got angry at this, she said “well if it had been me, I would’ve just told him to stop and kicked him in the balls’. I had no words.
told a close friend about my experience being harassed (actually jeered at and almost followed home for ignoring sexual advances) which made me very wary of interacting with men/male-aligned people for a period of time. select responses: “i knew there was another reason you weren’t chatting with me,” and, “yes i do benefit from male privilege but i never in my life have harassed women,” with the implication that my wariness/withdrawal was unfair to them. as opposed to being MY decision after facing a threatening situation.
I want to share my story without my last name so I’m not identifiable (or at least easily identifiable). When I was 17 y/o, three days before my birthday, I was in a pool party with my high school classmates. I was taking pills and irresponsibly mixed them with alcohol. I was aware of everything, but my body didn’t respond; I couldn’t move nor talk correctly, but I was aware of everything. My (then) best friend thought it was a perfect opportunity to rape me, so he did. People began talking about me being a slut and such, because they didn’t know I was raped, they just “saw me leaving with the dude” (he was carrying my indefensible body, I was not leaving willingly, anyway…). For two weeks aproximately (the time a gossip usually lasts in school), when people asked me what happened I’d say that it was all consensual with him, ’cause I was embarrassed and felt guilty for my rape; I felt it was my fault, so I’d say that it was consensual to avoid victim-blaming and maybe to trick my own brain into believing it didn’t happen. For years I lived with guilt (since I thought what happened was my fault), until recently (two years, a year and a half, maybe) when it really hit me. Feminism helped me realize it’s not my fault at all. And I began talking about it without that much shame. Now, the only thing I regret was not reporting my rapist with the authorities (or at least with the school) and telling everyone who he really was. Now, I conciously know that my rape was nobody’s fault but his. BUT, unconciously, I still blame myself. I hate it. I hate that I can’t change my unconsciousness. It harms my physical wellbeing, my sexual life with my loving, feminist boyfriend. It harms my interpersonal relationships in general. I don’t know what to say. I just feel a little bit better when I talk about it because I feel a physical relief from my shoulders. Thanks for the space. – María