Joe Biden compares GOP to rape apologists

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Now WAIT JUST A MINUTE: People still blame rape victims?!

Joe. What are you doing, Joe?:

The vice president, known for speaking his mind and at times putting his foot in his mouth, said that Republicans who want to cut spending while at the same time cutting taxes for the wealthy are similar to rape apologists.

In setting up his comparison, the vice president explained to the audience that before the Violence Against Women Act that he championed was passed into law, “there was this attitude in our society of blaming the victim,” according to a press pool account of the event.

“When a woman got raped, blame her because she was wearing a skirt too short, she looked the wrong way or she wasn’t home in time to make the dinner,” Biden said.

“We’ve gotten by that,” he said. “But it’s amazing how these Republicans, the right wing of this party – whose philosophy threw us into this God-awful hole we’re in, gave us the tremendous deficit we’ve inherited – that they’re  now using, now attempting to use, the very economic condition they have created to blame the victim – whether it’s organized labor or ordinary middle-class working men and women. It’s bizarre. It’s bizarre.”

Of course right-wingers are jumping all over the inappropriateness of this comparison – but I’m actually disturbed by the fact that he talks about victim-blaming as some sort of pastime, especially considering the most recent, very public example by the New York Times and Rep. Kathleen Passidomo. Yes, we love you for leading the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but um, you didn’t eliminate victim-blaming or rape apologizing. Sorry, dude – wish ya did!

Secondly, no need for a comparison; many GOP folks are rape apologists – remember their attempts to redefine rape in anti-choice bill HR3? Would have loved to hear from you on that gem of victim-blaming bullshit. But this…this is just bad, Joe.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted March 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I see what he was trying to accomplish with this.. Reps ARE huge victim blamers. As you pointed out many actually are rape apologists and they love kicking people while they’re down- especially when someone else kicked them to the ground to begin with. The biggest problem with the statement that I see is obviously that he doesn’t believe victim blaming still happens or is still mainstream.. he’s probably a little out of touch with common people problems and I doubt he goes browsing reddit every day and reading blogs like most of us do. He needs to be made aware of the fact that it still happens every single day.. but his original comparison seems pretty accurate- blaming the victim is a regular conservative pastime.

  2. Posted March 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Well, I usually compare them to such (or outright call them it) based on the way they attempt to redefine rape or restrict women’s free will over their personal autonomy, but I can see his metaphor too. I disagree with him that society has gotten past victim blaming in cases of rape though. Joe Biden, I give you Cleveland, Texas.

    I guess it comes down to whether or not one feels it’s appropriate to use rape as a metaphor for other things at all, for example, environmentalists may use the phrase “raping the planet” to describe depleting it of it’s resources.

  3. Posted March 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    While I agree that his use of the comparison was tactless, and his almost oblivious statement that rape apologists are no longer an issue was flat out wrong and harmful to women as a whole, the one upside to this is that he accurately expressed what a rape apologist is, and how it has been an issue.

    I really, really wish he hadn’t said it was no longer a problem, but in some attempt to find a glimmer of an upside, at the very least the term is being used. I know too many people who don’t even know what the concept of rape apology IS. Maybe the few people being exposed to this, conservatives and all, will be driven to do a bit more research on the subject, and see how it’s still an issue? Who knows.

  4. Posted March 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    In defense of Joe: He definitely got close to the cultural shorthand that allows for Godwins law. His victim blaming comparison was different because 1.) unlike most nazi analogies, the parallels he expressed show significant overlap (the techniques to blame victims of rape and poverty are similar) , and 2.) he has a background of demonstrably giving half of a shit about women’s rights.

    The major critique across the feminist blogosphere seems to be “Why pretend that victim blaming is a thing of the past?” There are a couple of mitigating reasons that have gone unmentioned.
    1.) He brought up a subject as sensitive as rape in a verbal attack on the republicans, so to mitigate the crassness of the assault, he has to firmly entrench the system on his side of the argument: blaming victims is wrong, the government thinks so as well. By making victim blaming past tense, he puts the government on his side of the moral reasoning. It is a technique that is used in persuasion all of the time.
    2.) Victim blaming may not have changed much, but it was an UNQUESTIONED and highly effective tactic in the past. Whereas today, there are support systems (media backlash, victims advocates, mandated police training) that lead people, like Joe, to think that we are on the right track and its the rare “bad eggs” that continue this sort of logic. He hasn’t been underprivelaged or dating the underprivelaged for a long time; his perspective is different, and thus it’s our chance to confront him with how common those “bad eggs” are.
    3.) Rather than setting rape into a little “special interests” venue, Joe took a horrendous American cultural problem and draws it into national discourse. I celebrate any time that a person in high office brings up what is usually a “women’s issue” and stipulates its cost as a human issue. Especially because he is calling out how shitty the logic behind it is.
    4.) He got “GOP” and “rape apologist” in the same headline, which is necessary considering the current attack on women, their privacy, and their mental/social/physical health which is lead almost entirely by folks claiming to be republican.

    It seems that Biden is reflective on the patterns of rape in America, which is awesome. And when he saw those patterns somewhere else, he called it out. which is also awesome.

  5. Posted March 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Wait, victim blaming isn’t an American pastime? I thought it was right up their with baseball.

  6. Posted March 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    “But this…this is just bad, Joe.”

    What? Biden called out victim blaming. This is GOOD. Biden said the GOP are similar to rape apologists. This is accurate! It’s not a gaffe, it’s the truth! Rape apologists are victim blamers. So’s the GOP.

    This is a guy who’s calling a spade a spade. Or calling a spade like a spade, which is not enough of a semantic difference for me to get on board with his statements being labeled “bad”. He’s genuinely working for women, and asking him to call out the GOP as actual rapists in a statement that tries to communicate the concept of victim blaming is a derail at best and a huge strategic mistake at worst.

    (P.S. The language nerd in me is absolutely compelled to tell you: pastime means hobby, not something that is a thing of the past.)

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