Rape-splaining: 10 Examples of Victim Blaming

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.

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

3. The victim might have made it up.

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

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.

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

7.  The victim didn’t say no.

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

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

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

Photo from Flickr user Charlotte Cooper under license from Creative Commons 2.0


Natasha Turner is a freelance journalist and editor based in London and a former Ms. editorial intern.