There is a fine line between victim blaming & being my sisters keeper.

Dec 16, 2011 @ 1:38 pm | By TheFeministGriote | 5 Comments

Editor’s Note:

This PSA ad which was the brain-child of Pennsylvania liquor control board has caused quite a stir especially among various feminist camps. This ad which is suppose to remind us all of the various dangers of binge drinking has been labeled as a ‘victim blaming’ ad. I recently read an article by Keli Goff who wrote about this ad for the Loop21 and who viewed this ad much differently. I agree with everything that Goff stated in her article, but the weird thing is that many feminist seem to have missed the larger point the ad was trying to make.

Earlier this year, I read Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti,which I wrote about, in this article: My beef with the Ivory Tower of Feminism (I had my issues with the book, but I think it a decent beginners guide to feminism) in that book, I learned an important phrase that will forever be in my lexicon as a feminist  and as a woman. The phrase is “rape schedule.” As women we all live by a “rape schedule” whether we realize it or not. As women we navigate the world under a different more stressful and often times more dangerous circumstances than our male counterparts. As women we must be leery of walking late at night alone in certain areas, we must mentally brace ourselves to combat street harassment, if you are like me you don’t smile at every man who smiles at you, for fear this will invite unwanted attention to your femaleness that will make you uncomfortable. As women we are always thinking about safety and how we can better ensure our safety.

Women live under the constant fear of how can I avoid being raped? That is the sad and disgusting truth of the matter. Men (who can also be victims of rape) don’t have to worry about all the aforementioned things above at least not in the same way. If having breast and a uterus makes me  prone to having breast cancer, cervical cancer, and possibly being a victim of a sexual crime -then the same way, I must keep up with my pap smears and do my self breast exams, that also means I need to be more careful in avoiding dangerous situations.

Rape is real and it happens. We warn people all the time about the dangers of texting and driving drinking and driving so why can’t we warn others especially those who are at greater risk of being victims of sexual violence, about the dangers of binge drinking? I agree with Keli Goff the ad missed the mark visually, but the overall point was not missed at least not on me. Alcohol impairs your judgment period. point blank. bottom line. If my judgement is impaired, I can’t give consent and we all know if you are drunk and passed out you definitely can’t give consent. Binge drinking is not good for anyone’s health, but if we are honest binge drinking raises your chances of a douche bag taking sexual advantage of you. It does not mean that if a woman is passed out drunk and becomes a victim of a sex crime that it is her fault that is not the case, but one must always err on the side of safety.

There seems to be a belief held by many feminist that by warning a woman you are somehow taking away her agency and blaming her if she is indeed ever victimized. As a feminist it is my duty to be my sisters keeper. That means holding her hand while she cries after she made the hard decision of having an abortion, supporting her in achieving her dreams, tell her when she is wearing the wrong foundation color, and warning her about the dangers of binge drinking. Women like all other adults over the age of 21 should be allowed to drink, but like every other adult who is over the age of 21 understands we all must drink responsibly.

Until this society stops breeding rapist the notion of rape will always permeate the daily activities of women. Warning women against the dangers of binge drinking is not disempowering them its in fact empowering them to make a better and wiser decisions.

What do you think ? Is warning women against binge drinking really a form of victim blaming? Weigh in below…

5 Responses to “ There is a fine line between victim blaming & being my sisters keeper. ”

  1. This is very well written. How can you be victim blaming if you are telling a person to be aware? I agree with both your article and Keli Goff’s.

  2. HashtagTheBoo | December 16, 2011 6:18 pm

    I do believe there is a fine line. I do not believe she crossed it. Nor do I believe you crossed it. The opposition reprimanded readers/citizens for being under the assumption that most rape is perpetrated by strangers is incorrect. Well then, if that is the case and 77% of rape is acquaintance rape, then we have to look at how acquaintance rape is carried out. One of the more popular ways would, at least to me, seem to be based off of intoxication. If popular music can celebrate getting women drunk so that their “defenses are down” or up-to-and-beyond the point that they are “trashed” (are unable/not in the right mind to say no), then we can warn women about the predatory behavior. And in that warning we can say be careful sis, there are folks out there who don’t want you to have the ability to say “no.” At no point is that victim blaming.

  3. This well-meaning “advice” is indeed victim blaming and it does not in fact make anyone safer. The message on the poster (and in this post) promotes the idea that “bad” victims are asking for it, shames and discourages victims from coming forward, and teaches rapists who they should target so the victim won’t be believed. This leaves rapists roaming free, making us all LESS safe.

    What would really prevent rape is a society that truly condemns rape and punishes rapists. Few rapes are ever reported, and fewer still result in a conviction, because our culture too often puts the burden on victims to resist rather than on rapists to obtain consent. We should be restricting rapists’ freedom and condemning rapists’ behavior, not victims!

    Rapists are just as likely to be drunk when they commit their crimes as their victims. A similar poster could have been made warning of the risks of getting drunk and committing crimes like rape and violence. That would have at least put the blame where it belongs. Blaming the victim is at best worthless and at worst harmful.

  4. No other crime places such a burden on the victim. Victims of burglary are not accused of getting drunk and stupidly giving their property away. You’d never see a PSA warning people of the risks of getting drunk and then getting shot and killed. From mugging to murder, victims are not typically treated as guilty until proven innocent, unless they are rape victims.

    Women of the world are never going to collectively stop drinking altogether, and even if they did, it would not stop rape from ever happening again. There will always be people who get too drunk, whether by on purpose or by accident (or even by someone poisoning them). It has happened to most people and most people do not end up raped as a result. If a rapist wants to rape a drunk woman and I’m not drunk, he will just find some other, drunk woman to rape. It’s senseless to keep judging and blaming the victims instead of the rapists. Rape happens because rapists go free instead of being locked up. Blaming victims does nothing to solve that problem.

  5. […] I failed to put my own philosophy and words into praxis.On December 16, I wrote a blog titled There is a fine line between victim blaming & being my sister’s keeper which I published on my blog site. What prompted this particular blog was a piece I read on […]

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