In response to the recent uproar over Emily Yoffe’s victim-blaming advice to young women, the New York Times “Room for Debate” asks, “What’s wrong with asking women not to get blind drunk?” (As Jessica noted on Twitter, the image included in the piece of “headless shots of young women’s breasts & drinks sends a clear message before you even get to the ‘debate.’”) Thankfully, our own Alexandra and Mychal have some answers! They both offered their smart takes on sexual assault, drinking, and victim blaming.
Such victim blaming persists for the same reason rape persists: historically entrenched power imbalances along lines like gender, race and class allow rape to be tolerated, even encouraged, when perpetrated by members of dominant groups.
Star athletes at schools like Notre Dame see their rapist teammates let off scot-free and follow their example, confident in their impunity. Most trans people in the United States have been sexually assaulted, but police harassment discourages many from reporting their assailants. So bigotry protects the attackers from legal repercussions.
Yet in the face of this violence, we demand that the victimized sacrifice their freedom and adjust their behavior so we don’t have to disturb the status quo.
If the goal is to reduce or eliminate rape, getting men to stop raping would seem the logical solution. But this would involve an honest conversation about our devotion to a warped and toxic vision of masculinity, sex and power that would completely uproot the current social order. It’s easier to just tell women to stop drinking.
Our unwillingness to confront men lets this behavior, born of a sense of entitlement and misplaced ideas of what constitutes power, go unchecked. If we stopped blaming binge drinking (or short skirts, or too-high heels, etc.) we could concentrate on having men not just understand that “no means no,” and that all forms of sexual contact require consent, but also learn to reject that force, domination and coercion are natural markers of masculinity and manhood. Until we reckon with those concepts, women will continue being expected to prevent their own rapes.
Read the rest here. Or at least read the rest of Alexandra’s and Mychal’s pieces.