Rape-splaining: 10 Examples of Victim Blaming

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TRIGGER WARNING: discussions of rape, abusive and offensive language.

The tragic case in December of 2012 of a 12-year-old girl raped at gunpoint by three teenage boys in Chicago sparked outrage and horror. This month, after Cook County prosecutors announced the boys will face charges as adults, many in the public have spoken out in support of the victim—but social media is unfortunately also rife with victim blaming and slut shaming.

This is “rape-splaining”—attempting to explain away cases of rape and assault. Rape-splaining is an all-too-common phenomenon that perpetuates a rape culture that excuses sexual misconduct.

Here’s a list of the top 10 examples of rape-splaining, as exemplified by comments made on blogs, social media sites and other forums. When you hear one of these excuses, don’t let it just pass: speak out.

1. The victim was asking for it.

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2. Men get these biological urges to rape, they just can’t help themselves.

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3. The victim might have made it up.

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4. The victim is ruining the life of the rapist; the rapist had so many prospects.

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5. The victim should not have been in that situation/known that person/lived in that neighborhood/walked down that street/gone to that  bar, etc., etc.

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6. People of certain races/ages/classes/backgrounds are just more prone to violent behavior.

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7.  The victim didn’t say no.

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8. In cases of underage perpetrators: The rapist is only a child him/herself.

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9. The victim should have known what he/she was getting him/herself into.

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10. The victim’s parents should have taught him/her warning signs.

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Photo from Flickr user ctrouper under license from Creative Commons 2.0

 

Comments

  1. Pam Foley says:

    This term, ‘rape-splaining’, deserves to be exposed to a wider audience. Discussion on this topic is sorely needed. Once again, MS leads the way!

  2. Dawn MxcInnes says:

    Comment 1. Rape occurs when someone forces someone else to have sex when they do not choose to .How can there be any consent to that. The only defense for a rape charge is to prove the person agreed to have sex . Her/his clothes do not speak for her/him , nor does her/his race , her/his social background or anything but her/mouth mouth. If she drank alcohol they gave her that is yet another crime against a
    minor.
    Comment 2. This one kills me. We are supposed ,and argued , to be slaves to our hormones etc. I consider the comment to be a terrible insult to hundreds of males that I know. The guy who made that comment should disabuse himself of his delusion that his reaction is in anyway normal. He is a deviant male. One could go on but it’s too depressing but I will say those YOUNG MEN are old enough to know right from wrong and need to be taught that their pleasure is sick and certainly not worth ruining another human beings life. They are not the centre of the universe.

  3. The real issue with Steubenville is that we’re not raising our boys to understand what counts as rape, sexual assault, or battery. Of course they’re going to behave like this. We’re showing them in nearly every way possible that a woman’s sexuality is fair game. They were guilty, and the law should hold these boys accountable. But if you don’t like it, and you don’t like the idea of their “young lives” being “ruined”, then do your damn part and educate your sons on what rape is.

    • Agreed, anonya. I’m teaching my boys (13 and 11) what I call “explicit consent,” meaning that she must explicitly indicate that she wants sex and reserves the right to withdraw consent at any time regardless of circumstances. If the woman/girl is incapacitated in any way (drunk, passed out, wev) she is off limits.

      Do you folks think this covers all the bases?

  4. Maybe it’s just me.. but it kind of blows my mind that anyone should ever have to be TAUGHT that you should not have sex or attempt to have sex with someone that is sleeping or not consious…. I would think this would be one of those obvious things…..
    I went to a party years ago and a girl passed out on a couch. Some guy said he wanted to “get with that tonight”
    I said “umm..she’s passed out”
    He said “oh, it’s not a big deal”
    I think my brain almost exploded at that moment.. Not a big deal???????!
    I kept an eye on her the rest of the night so no one touched her.
    What is wrong with the males in this world that they have to be TAUGHT not to rape????
    I guess it just blows my mind that this is even confusing for some people in the first place…. *sigh*

  5. Prudence says:

    1) She could have been a loose drunk slut, but it’s still rape.
    2) Other people would have done the same thing in that situation? Sure, okay, but it’s still rape.
    3) If you’re drunk at a party, you’re impaired and hey, guess what, it’s still rape.
    4) The boy’s futures are gone– cause they raped a girl, yes. Legit reason to lose a future.
    5) Was drunk and should have been aware of their surroundings? Yes, it’s always nice to know if there are rapists in the room, alas, that still doesn’t mean there was consent, and that means it was rape.
    6) Maybe they did all grow up in single parent houses, but there are tons of rapists who came from every other kind of home: adopted, happy family, two dads, abusive parents. Still rape.
    7) If she didn’t say yes, it’s rape. He doesn’t have to read her mind, he shouldn’t touch her until she gives consent, and without it, guess what– it’s rape.
    8) They were apparently old enough to put their dick somewhere it didn’t belong, so they’re old enough to face the consequences. The emotional trauma for her doesn’t change if they’re 16 or 60, and hey, did I mention that they raped her?
    9) Going into someone’s home doesn’t give them a right to your body. Sure, she could have not gone and therefore wouldn’t have been raped, but she did go and hey– they raped her. They took liberties that were not theirs to take, and now they’re being punished. She shouldn’t have to ‘learn’ anything because she walked into a house, they should learn to keep their hands to their own fucking selves.
    10) Parents should definitely teach their children important lessons. But they still raped her, and that was a choice they made, not one their parent’s made.

    • Sohi Sotari says:

      I love this comment so much ! So true and deep !

    • This is the best comment I’ve ever seen on one of these stories. Exactly how many ways do we have to get that point across… It’s more than “no means no.” It’s “anything other than an explicit yes is no.”

    • I’m a playwright and I’d like to use this COMMENT in my documentary theatre play based on victim blaming re rape which is currently in development. Please respond.

  6. Elizabeth M. says:

    And now, sad to say, we can add the comments of tennis great Serena Williams to the list of examples of victim blaming. In talking to Rolling Stone (http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/serena-williams-the-great-one-20130618?page=4) about the Steubenville rape case, Serena said: “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.” How in the world is being raped “lucky”?! And whether she’s a virgin or not is completely irrelevant. I’m horrified by Serena’s comments.

  7. The girl may be a victin, but she is still partially responsible. Just like when you leave your car with the keys attached and it gets stolen.
    At least half of those blog comments were legitimate.
    They weren’t blaming the girl for being a victim, but for being careless.
    I will teach my son not to rape and my daughter not to be raped.

  8. Not to compare rape to car theft, but rather to analogize one “risk” with another: when I had my car stolen, I blamed the thief, and rightfully so. But when I got my car back, all I could think about was what I could have done differently. Despite my anger, I treated the whole ordeal pragmatically, and decided to take personal responsibility. I didn’t blame myself, it just motivated me to take action and be more conscious of my belongings. I got a car alarm and always kept my laptop in the trunk. Obviously, there is still a chance it could get stolen. I could fly my car to the moon and there would still be a 0.00001% chance a thief would fly to the moon and steal it. It’s not the random, uncontrollable events I’m worried about; personal responsibility is controlling what you can. A woman has the right to walk in a dark alley alone, but I, too, have the right to walk in a dark forest alone. If I get eaten by a wolf, my last thought might be of the great risk I took. In the perfect world, I shouldn’t have to worry about such dangers, but to change the behavior of every single wolf would be a monumental task akin to changing the weather. It could be done, but not in our lifetime. I am a risk management professional, and I see taking personal action to secure oneself as a superior and empowering objective, and accepting that threats always exist in ALL aspects of life is realistic. Is there a flaw in my reasoning?

  9. Then I suggest you not go outside because there is a risk of being murdered….. What a stupid thing to say. No one is not saying to be careful – there are dangers everywhere (whether right or wrong) but no one – absolutely no one should be blaming the rape victim I mean come on. Rapists have something wrong with their brains (who else continues to have a boner whilst a girl is crying/unconscious/scared to death) which leads me to believe that if a person goes around to their friends house/on their way home/or anywhere for that matter and a mentally unstable person murders them then your saying its the murder victims fault for not being cautious!? What an idiot!

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