Each time we blame the victim, we’re supporting a system and culture which nurtures violence.
We’re still stuck, on many levels, in hunter-gatherer mode.
Typically it is the fairer sex who reports rape, which means we’re trying to resolve big non-gender-specific issues like consent and violence from within the singular, thick lens of a dichotomy that has deep, deep roots in a power imbalance.
At its best, the power imbalance looks like a sick symbiotic relationship:
‘Hey, darlin’, you can’t be alone in the wild. I want to protect you.’
‘Oh, thank you, I don’t want to be scammed or thieved or raped or tortured or murdered and chopped into pieces. But what can I offer in return?’
Wink. ‘We’ll think of something.’
And then we’re on our hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor with bleach and a toothbrush.
The power imbalance is not biological. It does not come from different needs or physical strength or socioeconomic potential.
It springs from a belief that women are less than men.
Because when there is a natural imbalance (physical strength, for example) that’s not exploited, its not violent.
People who exploit others do so because they feel superior.
This lens of men holding more value than women is having a great impact on how rape cases are tried.
I’m going to guess, based on logical extension, that convicting a (valued) man based on allegations (regardless of whether they are true) made by people considerably less valuable than him is terribly distressing because of all he has to offer.
Plus, that whole ‘omg that could have been me in college and I can’t imagine my life now if I had to go to jail for that one time I pushed it’ sympathetic response.
So, because of this imbalance, when we have victims (women) on the stand, they better be the most credible as fuck upright citizens in the world. And if that woman has a history of having sex, or of being date raped and not reporting it, or has ever posed for a questionable photo online, forget it.
We won’t ruin a valued man’s whole fucking life for some soiled woman.
We won’t label a valued man violent or savage, which will haunt him for the rest of his life, unless there’s no other option.
Because of these fears, rape was believed to be about taboo sexual mishaps between two consenting adults. Rape wasn’t labeled violent in Canadian law until 1982. But the belief about rape not being assault is quite rooted.
We’re just now starting to discuss consent in an informed way, which goes a long way toward support for victims.
But who is impacted by creating a culture of support toward victims?
I guess if you want to maintain an edge, the upper hand of a power imbalance where, for example, you can coerce or manipulate a woman into a sexual act to avoid the potential embarrassment of rejection, then you have to stick with the belief that rape isn’t violent. Or, oh boy, there would be serious cognitive dissonance.
When rape is viewed from a greater perspective, leaving behind the thick lens of gender inequality, it’s easier to see that rape is not about sex.
It’s not an oops, singular moment of putting sexual ‘needs’ before the human rights of a female non violent minor incident.
It’s an, omg, we need to preserve this delusion that men and sexual deviants are not capable of controlling their sexual urges. Like their dicks rule their brains. Like men are not capable of rising above the hunter-gatherer brain. (I’d be offended if you told me I couldn’t do that, but that’s just me.)
It’s a we need to preserve this hands in the air, ‘I can’t help it’ attitude when it comes to rape.
Instead of just plainly stating the truth, which, no matter what level of assault, is that the perpetrator put his or her needs (sexual or otherwise) above the victim’s needs to the detriment of the victim. Always. That’s violence.
The horrible truth is that a physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually violated woman just does not threaten the status quo of a male dominated society the way a rape conviction does.
The cost of collusion, which starts with the opposite of supporting rape victims, reaches far and wide.
It undermines any lip service that violence is wrong (this includes anti bullying messages to school aged children).
When we collude in perpetuating the myth that rape is about sex, child molesters have a better chance of convincing groomed victims to keep quiet out of shame and fear that the biological response to physical pleasure means s/he wanted it, and therefore somehow became a conspirator, instead of a victim.
And when the way we perceive rape helps child molesters, it’s a good enough reason for me to do the heavy lifting of helping men accept responsibility for controlling their sexual desires instead of blaming the female victim for wearing that dress or for flirting or for drinking.
Anything less than telling a victim of assault that it’s not his or her fault is blaming the victim, which becomes a win for the perpetrator of each violent crime.