Debate Magazine

Slut Walks & Victim Blaming

Posted on the 31 May 2011 by Juliez

So recently the feminist community has been rallying around the SlutWalks. Personally, I’m beginning to feel a tad sorry for the poorly spoken police officer who instigated all of this as he’s probably (hopefully) feeling like an idiot right about now. But not too sorry.

Recently the topic was brought up in my calculus class, and although most students didn’t know about it, the ones that did all said the same thing: “Well, you wouldn’t leave your garage door open and expect someone not to steal your car, would you?” I was surprised that so many people thought this, as I was under some sort of impression that victim blaming was only for serious misogynists. I was clearly wrong; it’s more subtle and widespread than that.

I think the main reason people don’t support or get the SlutWalks is because they don’t truly understand victim blaming. Sure, running around naked in the middle of the night probably won’t do wonders for your personal safety, but if someone chooses to commit a violent crime against you, it’s still not your fault. Nothing you do surrenders your right to control your body, and nothing you do can cause other people’s actions (like rape) – they cause their OWN actions – and I think that’s what SlutWalkers are trying to get at.

a Slut Walker

a Slut Walker

If you handed someone a loaded gun and they shot you, maybe it wasn’t the best choice on your part, but the fact that they chose to shoot you is their fault alone. This is the same with rape. Putting yourself in a risky situation and being to blame are not the same thing. Although most rapes are committed by someone you know, walking around alone at night can increase your chances of being violently attacked. This goes for all violent crime. However, even if we’re walking down an alley at 4 am, drunk, and dressed like a “slut” it doesn’t give anyone the right to commit a crime. It’s as simple as that. Nothing you do can surrender or make irrelevant your right to consent.

Victim blaming comes in many different forms. Suggesting that it’s a woman’s responsibility to prevent rape, instead of putting the blame on the perpetrators, is a type of victim blaming. Women shouldn’t have to guard their drinks, bring a friend to the bathroom, or pay for a taxi instead of walking home. Not enough emphasis is put on finding these rapists and putting them behind bars; in fact, only about 5% of rapists will ever see a day in jail – 19 out of 20 rapists walk free.

Victim blaming needs to stop. And I mean all types of victim blaming, especially the subtle kinds that are far too abundant for my liking, and easy to miss. Although the SlutWalks have received some controversy for the word “slut” from non-feminists and feminists alike, I believe the message they are trying to get across is good: no matter what you wear, or do, nothing can make you to blame for being raped.

For a list of cities participating in Slut Walk and upcoming Slut Walks, click here.

For more resources about Slut Walk, I recommend Chloe from Feministing’s post and Jaclyn Friedman’s Boston Slut Walk Speech.


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