She didn’t ask for it. She didn’t want it. She didn’t have it coming to her.
So goes the thinking in this great article in Salon, covering an ad campaign in Scotland – Ad campaign: She didn’t ask for it
It starts with a familiar scenario: Pretty girl in a bar wearing a short skirt. Continuing the generic vibe of the scene, a guy catches a glimpse of her and exclaims to his buddy: “Check out that skirt — she’s asking for it!” Cut to the same girl earlier that day looking at skirts in a department store. The saleslady asks if she could use some help. The girl replies matter-of-factly: “Yeah, thanks, I’m going out tonight and I want to get raped. I need a skirt that will encourage a guy to have sex with me against my will.” The clerk excitedly coos: ”The blue one. Definitely the blue one.”
Feel a wee bit unsettled? Aye, you should. Women don’t flirt, drink or dress their way into rape, and the ad highlights the absolute absurdity, and basic inhumanity, of the “asked for it” attitude. As the Scots would say, the spot is pure dead brilliant.
Very sadly, if you read the comments on this article, you’ll see that readers still “don’t get it.” They liken women dressing sexy to leaving a Mercedes Benz ulocked. Following this logic, why is it that women on the beach in bikinis don’t get raped? Aren’t they just like a fleet of unlocked Mercedes? How about strippers? Are they asking for it? (OH! You say there are rules to follow at these clubs? And, if they’re not enforced, the guy can get tossed out? Oh, I see! )This guy’s logic just doesn’t add up. And it’s very, very sad.
Here’s the video on YouTube: Not Ever
Here’s research that might help explain all those misogynist comments we find on rape-related articles:
Men lack sympathy for rape victims
The results showed that men had less sympathy for rape victims overall and tended to blame the victim more than women did. In particular men were blamed for not fighting back.
The men questioned in the study classed assaults on gay men as the least serious especially if the victim was conscious.
Attribution of blame in cases of rape: An analysis of participant gender, type of rape and perceived similarity to the victim
This paper reviews studies exploring the effects of a variety of factors on participants’ judgments of hypothetical depictions of rape within an experimental setting. The focus is on attribution of responsibility or fault to the victim or attacker and related judgments. Three aspects have been reviewed: the effect of participant gender, the type of rape depicted (stranger rape, date rape or acquaintance rape) and perceived similarity with the victim/perpetrator in line with the defensive attribution theory. There are limits to generalization due to populations studied and methods used, and the observed effects of several factors are either minimal or inconsistent. However, some factors have consistent effects on judgments. Findings indicate that men engage in victim blaming more readily than women; victims who are acquainted with their attacker tend to be assigned more responsibility for a rape; and participants who view themselves as similar to the victim attribute more blame to the perpetrator of the rape, demonstrating the effects of “harm avoidance” and “blame avoidance.”
A situational model of sexual assault prevention through bystander intervention
Bystander intervention is a potentially potent tool in the primary prevention of sexual assault but more information is needed to guide prevention programs (Banyard 2008). Undergraduates (378 women and 210 men, primarily White) at a central coast California university completed an anonymous questionnaire measuring five barriers identified by the situational model of bystander intervention (Latane and Darley 1970) and bystander intervention behavior. As expected, the barriers were negatively correlated with intervention, were greater for men than for women, and intervention likelihood was affected by perceptions of victim worthiness, especially for men. Hypotheses predicting a positive relationship between having a relationship with the potential victim or perpetrator and intervention were supported. Implications for sexual assault bystander intervention programming are provided.
And, finally, here’s a study that looked at the media:
Media attributions of blame and sympathy in ten rape cases
This study builds upon previous research investigating the nature of magazine coverage of rape cases between 1980 and 1996. The previous research examined the low versus high visibility cases vis-a `-vis case characteristics. The present examination explores condemnation in rape cases in light of case characteristics. A total of 123 articles have been compiled from national magazines. Ten rape cases are included in this study. Concerns pivot around media attribution of rape culpability. The research questions whether the victim’s/offender’s race and/or class affects the media’s exculpation or vilification of the rape victim and/or offender. In other words, the study investigates whether there is a perpetuation of the victim blaming ideology by the media as it pertains to certain rape cases. The research goes on to explore whether the rape scenario, e.g. stranger, acquaintance, single offender or multiple offenders impacts media attributions in rape cases. The findings of this content analysis are viewed in the context of the backlash against feminism and the ‘feminist’ rape reform movement. It is important to understand the phenomena of beliefs about rape in the present era of the backlash that continues to erode gains of the feminist and the rape reform movements.
Understanding the backlash against feminism and the rights we’ve worked so hard to protect – in both sexual assault and domestic violence – is extremely important in understanding attitudes. Also, understanding that there’s been backlash against the Civil Rights Movement, the LGBT community, being PC, etc. is important because we see that the backlash is not just intended for women & their allies but rather is a wide net, including progressive issues that bring about change.
For us, the backlash is mainly from men (and some women) protecting the privileges that patriarchy affords them – status, respect, promotion, entrance into networks, public presence (representation), etc. This includes the “right” to abuse – silence protected that “right” until the 1970s, when the Victims Rights Movement started. Exposing these abuses has not been made without a fight. There’s been “false memory syndromes,” “false allegations” propaganda, and the “Fathers Rights” guise that are uses as tools to fight back. (The Fathers Rights people stopped domestic violence victims from getting free legal aid; they want to limit restraining orders; they sue domestic violence shelters; and, they believe domestic violence is mutual, just a “mistake,” and can be resolved in couples counseling, even battering.)
We have to recognize backlash and fight to preserve the gains we’ve made. Progress – egalitarian beliefs and marriages - offer men a chance to have healthier and longer lives (the bread winner status is stressful) and healthier relationships with their wives and children. Healthy relationships benefit us all - this is worth resisting the backlash and forging ahead.