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Mace & Crown | May 25, 2017

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Who’s at Fault, the Victim or Rapist?

Jessica Miller | Contributing Writer

There is an ongoing argument about whether it is the victim’s fault or not. People argue that because of what women wear, they draw attention to themselves and “ask for it,” so to speak. The argument against this addresses that others need to be respectful towards women no matter what they are wearing.

In the case of a rape, there are many factors that can be observed, but are we observing the right ones?

Rape culture is filled with victim blaming. When a woman brings to attention that she has been raped, a common question asked is, “What were you wearing?” This implies to the victim that they had some culpability in their victimization. This kind of message to victims often lessens the chances of others coming forward about their victimization due to fear of being blamed.

In an interview with Debbie Evans, the Division Chief of the Sexual Assault Center and Domestic Violence Program in the City of Alexandria, she said, “Victims should feel comfortable coming forward and telling their stories without being blamed for being raped. This kind of treatment and blame from police or other peers can cause victims to develop syndromes such as Stockholm Syndrome or Munchausen Syndrome, especially if the victim is in a relationship with their abuser.”

Women should be able to wear what they want and feel confident without being victimized by their rapist, then victimized a second time by the criminal justice system.

There can often be a misconception between men and women when they interact in a social environment such as a bar or club. Men believe that if a woman smiles at him or he buys her a drink, then the woman owes the man something.

A female student from Scripps College said, “There’s definitely this idea that permeates hookup culture and sexual life in college–that if you go to a certain point and turn someone on, then you owe it to them to go all the way.” This stigma that women give off signals to men and that they owe men is absurd. A woman looking for a fun night should not have to worry about it possibly turning into the worst night of their life.

In cases of rape, these factors are the effects of ill-disposed decisions made by men. Women should have the right to wear what they want, while still respecting their bodies and staying trendy, without being criticized. Women should also be able to go out and have fun at a bar without a man getting the wrong idea. Women should by no means lead a man on but if a woman ever says “no” to a man, he should respect it.

Women can always mitigate their culpability in victimization situations and men can mitigate the situation by respecting a woman’s actions and knowing what is appropriate.