Victim Blaming and Shaming vs. Information

Posted by Nadine Johnson on

Victim blaming and shaming has been overused to the point were good information is being discredited and undervalued. We need to give the words “shaming" and "blaming” a rest and replace it with information. When we are given information, we are more likely to assess it and decide whether to take it or leave it without being impeded by an emotional roadblock.

If two people die in a car accident and it’s reported that they would have survived had they worn their seatbelts, is that victim blaming and shaming? No. If someone dies in a motorcycle accident and it’s reported that they would have survived had they worn a helmet, is that victim blaming and shaming? No. The information is collected to help people in the future make better decisions. We can talk about people slowing down, driving more carefully, not texting or drinking and driving, but it’s very difficult to curb the behavior of millions of people at the same time. So in the mean time, it would be safer to wear a helmet or seatbelt.

Can you wear your seatbelt and still die in a car accident? Yes.
Do you have a better chance of surviving a car accident if you wear your seatbelt? Yes.
What information can you deduce? It might be wise to wear my seatbelt in a car.

When it comes to sexual harassment and assault, there is a notion that women don’t have any power to deflect the negative actions of others. And the minute someone suggests ways that women can protect themselves, they are immediately charged with victim blaming and shaming. It is very difficult to change the culture and actions of millions of men at the same time. So in the meantime, we need to educate and empower women on ways to stay safer. A celebrity recently said that we can’t educate ourselves out of sexual assault. I can’t believe she meant it the way I took it so I won’t mention her name. But educating young women is one of the ways we can help.

Here’s the deal, in a perfect world, men and women should be able to walk down the street buck-naked without a look from a soul. However we do not live in a perfect world. As a matter of fact, our world is so imperfect that it’s scary. This is why we need to give our young women actionable steps and information that may keep them safer today in the real world.

Appearance: Discussing how a woman dresses is commonly seen as victim blaming and shaming. However, the way a person is dress is used throughout our society to quickly assess what that person is about. If I wear jeans to a job interview (no matter how qualified I am) I probably won’t get the job. If I have blue extensions in my hair and I’m applying for a front office corporate job, I probably won’t be hired no matter how qualified I am. The fact is how we present ourselves DOES impact how we are treated and to disregard that fact is absurd. People make assumptions about who we are, what we can do, and what we are willing to do based on how we look.

Should the way we are dressed affect how we are treated? No.
Are we treated differently based on the way we are dress? Yes.
Can a woman be sexually harassed and assaulted covered from head to toe? Yes.
Are women who are dressed more provocatively seen in a more sexualized way? Yes.
What information can you deduce? Dress according to how you want to be treated.

Alcohol: Alcohol plays a big part in sexual assault cases especially on college campuses. More young women are drinking regularly and getting drunk while in the presence of people they don’t know. Understand that there is always someone lurking around willing to take advantage of you. Therefore, you need to be in control of your faculties at all times. If you are at a party and you need to get drunk in order to have a good time, that is your soul and intuition telling you that you don’t need to be there.

Should you be able to get drunk or pass out without someone taking advantage of you? Yes.
Do some men prey on women who are drunk? Yes. 

What information can you deduce? It might be safer to stay sober.

Exercise: In a perfect world we should be able to go jogging on a trail at night by ourselves without any angst, but that is not the world we live in. We have to be aware of our surroundings and take precautions like: Don’t jog the same route everyday or at the same time—mix it up. Don’t jog in dense trails by yourself day or night. Carry mace.

Can you be assaulted in the middle of the day while jogging in an open field? Yes.
Does jogging alone at night increase your chances of being assaulted? Yes.
What information can you deduce? It might be safer to jog in the open during the day.

Dating: Don’t be so enamored by someone that you will do whatever they say without examining what they are asking you to do. 3 o’clock in the morning in someone’s hotel room is not the time to find out if their public persona is the same as their private one. When going on dates, drive your own car; meet at a public place; don’t be so quick to trust what is said; don’t be too quick to tell someone where you live and work; watch his actions; and examine his friends.

Parents of Underage Children: We have a duty to make decisions that enable our children to have the safest possible outcomes. Do we always get it right? No. There are some areas where we can be a little more vigilant especially in the entertainment/sports sector. We shouldn’t leave our children in the hands of people just because they have the words coach, director, professor, agent, teacher, instructor, photographer, or producer before or after their names. We shouldn’t be so quick to have our children meet singers, athletes, or actors because they may be total perverts. We have to teach our children to admire people who they know not people they see on a screen. They need to learn that a person’s true quality is determined overtime through close interaction.

There are many other things we can do like learn self-defense or use a buddy system when going out. No one is a 100% safe at any given moment. We can, however, take steps to increase our chances of being safe.


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