Few things in this world make me as angry as victim blaming does, and unfortunately, it’s also something I see all over the Internet. Victim blaming happens when the victim of a crime is held either partially or entirely responsible for the wrong act that happened, even if the logic behind that reasoning makes very little sense. We’ve talked about quite a few instances of victim blaming here. One example is when people say that rape victims who were intoxicated during the time of sexual assault are partly to blame because they were so intoxicated, like what happened in the Steubenville rape case.
Other examples of victim blaming include rape victims being told that they should have worn more clothing during their time of attack, fans claiming that Rihanna must have done something bad to “deserve” the beating she got from ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, and even when schools enforce strict dress codes because they’re acting like it’s the girl’s fault if a guy can’t focus on anything other than the female body.
Another example of victim blaming? This absolutely awful article that was published on The Washington Post website yesterday. The article was originally titled, “One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married,” with a subtitle that read, “The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer hitched to their baby daddies.” These have both been tweaked since yesterday, probably because of all of the outraged responses they have received. Both the original and revised titles were terrible enough, but the article goes on to basically say that the best way to end violence against women is for women to stop sleeping around, and start getting married.
What’s the actual best way to end violence against women? How about if men stopped attacking and assaulting women? I feel like that’s the best way to end it. But I guess it’s too difficult to say that, because that would mean someone other then woman would be taking the full blame and responsibility for something terrible.
This entire article reeks of victim blaming. Instead of putting the focus on what men should be doing differently to end violence against women (which is where the focus should be), the authors are putting the focus on what women should be doing differently. The truth is that women shouldn’t have to change what they’re doing in order to get men to stop being violent against them. It’s completely unfair and disgusting for two people to make the argument that a violent act could be a woman’s fault because she’s not married. And for it to appear in a publication like The Washington Post? I know this is a crowdsourced section of the site (meaning a WP employee didn’t write this), but it was still edited, and it’s just unacceptable.
The first thing that will make you angry about this article? The two opening paragraphs, where the authors talk about the recent #yesallwomen hashtag. They make sure to point out that only some men are violent, not all men. Great! I don’t think anyone ever said that every male out there is a threat. However, rushing to point out that not every guy is violent is downplaying the serious issue of violence against women in general. It’s like saying, “Relax! You don’t have to worry about every guy! Just some!”
Moving on. Using studies and research, the authors of this article say that girls who grow up in stable family homes with a dad who is always around are less likely to be victims of violence. That’s great – it’s also something that a girl has no control over. The authors use these statistics to say that a woman who has kids shouldn’t be dating – they should be married! Because, according to these authors, marriage solves everything. They claim that marriage makes men better, thus lessening the risk of violence against their daughters or wives.
They go on to say that women who are part of stable marriages are less likely to be abused as well. So, basically, marriage is the way to solve violence against women. What? Oh, that makes no sense? Yeah, I know. First of all, women who are married still have to deal with the threat of domestic abuse – there are way too many cases of husbands physically and/or sexually abusing their wives and daughters out there to act like marriage is some miracle cure against violence. Second, as Jezebel points out, wealthy people are more likely to get married, and wealthy people also are more likely to live in areas that experience less crime. So, saying that married women are less likely to be victims of violence is not a fair argument.
To make readers even more furious, this is the last sentence of the article: “So, women: if you’re the product of a good marriage, and feel safer as a consequence, lift a glass to dear old dad this Sunday.” Really? REALLY?
Listen up, ladies: you are not responsible for ending violence against women. Men are. Men need to learn to not be violent against women. Articles and opinions like this tell us that women need to start doing things differently in order for men to stop being violent. That is not true. I’m not saying that every male out there is a threat. I’m saying that men who are violent need to step up and change their behavior. Also? Getting married or having a great dad does not guarantee protection against violence. It’s terrible that that even needs to be said. I hope that one day we can live in a world where victim blaming isn’t so common, but unfortunately, that just isn’t today.
What did you think about this Washington Post article? What do you think about victim blaming? Do you agree or disagree with me? Tell me in the comments.