Yesterday Keli Goff dedicated her column space at Loop 21 and screen time on The Dylan Ratigan Show to championing victim blaming. And she did so while claiming she wasn’t actually blaming the victim, which makes other people think their own victim blaming attitude is OK.
Goff felt the need to defend the PA Liquor Board’s terrible ad blaming people who drink for getting raped. Yes, that is what’s happening in this ad. The thin, smooth, white legs curled seductively say the woman sprawled on the bathroom floor is asking for it.
Goff’s argument is a conflation of two facts: binge drinking is dangerous, and rape happens. No, it’s not a great idea to poison yourself, impair your judgment, or become a greater threat to yourself and others (Which is why people who might commit rape in that situation should avoid drinking too much. Where’s that ad campaign?). If Goff wants to have a serious conversation about drinking culture that’s one thing. But this conversation keeps being super gendered, and tends to be about how women are putting themselves at risk.
Which, to be clear, is bullshit. Drinking too much doesn’t cause rape, just like a short skirt or sexy dancing or walking down the street or sweat pants don’t cause rape. Goff thinks she gets this. But when you say to someone well, if you don’t do that thing you might be able to prevent a rape? Guess what? You are blaming the victim. You are saying the person who did drink too much the night she got raped is responsible, because hey, could have been prevented.
There is a conversation to be had about drinking and rape culture. It’s about a culture that trains people who rape (mostly men, but let’s be clear that sexual violence doesn’t discriminate) to seek out people who can’t give consent – and the fact that many, many people think this is hook up culture, not rape culture (you don’t need me to OK hooking up if it’s consensual, do you?). Yes, people often don’t realize they’re committing rape. Or even that they’ve been raped. Putting the responsibility (read: blame) on the person who gets raped ignores what’s actually happening here, that someone doesn’t think they need consent.
We’re not even having that conversation in a big way in feminist spaces. We’re certainly not talking about it in the mainstream, where the victim blaming meme needs no help. There are a ton of unapproved comments on the original Community post about the ad parroting the same victim blaming line (the Feministing crew has no problem censoring victim blaming, and yes we do get to decide what victim blaming is on our own blog). Goff just used her microphone to give these people a voice and tell them their view is legitimate, that they really aren’t victim blamers. When what we so badly need is a different conversation.