From harassment to assault. From angry men posting their ex-partners nudes online to hackers stealing celebrity nudes, women are constantly the target of this patriarchal society — both in attacks and in blame.
The Bella Thorne/Whoopi Goldberg situation is another example of people (even women) trying to make the female victim shoulder some or a majority of the blame.
The “it’s 2019 and you should know better than to take nude photos” is the latest in a long line of copouts that refuse to move past the surface to deal with the deeper issues crippling our society.
It’s Got Nothing To Do With Us
When dealing with a traumatic violation that we’ve reported to authorities and/or shared on social media we endure a crapshoot reception — a roll of the dice — and we are unable to determine the outcome.
Reason being the components used are— how people see us & what prejudices they harbor, as well as their subconscious desire to shy away from accountability.
How they see us is decided by what they can surmise based on our physical appearance and how they feel we present that appearance online. That is, are we a woman of color or Black. Do we have wear a hijab; thereby identifying our religion? Are our clothes form-fitting? Does our shirt show cleavage? Do we have tattoos, piercings?
As each piece of info is being processed they’re also attaching their racial, religious, sexist prejudices to each physical description.
Woman are hysterical.
They can be lying to get back at someone — a woman scorned.
She shouldn’t have gone to his apartment.
She should’ve fought back harder.
She shouldn’t have worn that short dress.
She shouldn’t have taken those pictures.
This, in turn affects where the majority of the blame is placed.
They’ll rationalize their decision (same as racists) because they need to be “likable” and not sexist. So, they’ll latch onto a common excuse used to shift blame to the victim.
What Am I?
The other reason woman accrue the larger portion of blame is because people’s desire to avoid accountability and their frustration rooted in what changes they consider “possible”.
The phrase “men will be men” is a problem. It implies they have no control in their behavior so of course they don’t deserve blame because they don’t know any better.
If we believe men can’t change — that they’re just doing what comes naturally to them, who then is to blame when they violate a woman?
Then for women we spout, “she should’ve known better” and voila! The mantle of responsibility has been taken off the perpetrator to wrap around the victim.
It’s a lazy method that doesn’t deal with the root problem.
If responsibility and fault is placed solely on entitled, toxic male behavior people would they have to reflect on voting for a president who bragged about molesting women.
And, like racism (created by the same white, male patriarchy), they would have to address the systemically rampant nature of sexism in this society — from laws to media portrayals to their own ingrained biases — and how they are complicit in its continuation.
This is why people hide their heads in the proverbial sand and will violently defend a man accused of violating a woman. Because after all, if it’s true about the man they support, what does that make those who support this monster?
No one likes to realize they are scum.
What Connects Them
Finally, this thought process of women shouldn’t do x, y and z does not solve the problem. Are the Goldberg’s of the world actually insinuating that women won’t be violated if they adhere to some archaic notion of “female etiquette”?
Sexism and racism are two sides of the same coin and these well-worn excuses continue to be tools to bludgeon us.
A woman is not in danger if she “dresses sexy”.
A woman is not in danger if she drinks alcohol.
A woman is not in danger if she takes nude photos.
The only time danger exists is when there is a disgusting, criminal man in the vicinity. If there is — all women are in danger.
There are women in other countries who are dressed from head to toe and still raped. So how is this still a plausible excuse employed to blame victims?
There are women who are sober when they’re raped. How is the fact that she consumed alcohol to blame?
There is no holy grail safeguard, no checklist that will automatically shield women from violent and dangerous men.
The only common thread between all these are the men, who all have similar toxic, “I take what I want” mentalities. We can’t deal with the problem if we are looking at everything but the actual problem.
Sure, it’s dangerous to take and save nudes. It’s dangerous to go outside at night. It’s dangerous to drink alcohol.
It’s dangerous for a women everywhere because they are women in a society that devalues women and concurrently uplifts and trivializes the threat— men.
We need to face this directly and not shy away from the enormity of the task in front of us. We need to actively fight for what we want this world to be — what we know it can be — and we need to do so in a steadfast, unflinching manner until we have arrived.