Saturday, 16 February 2013

Is the woman ever to blame if raped?


This morning I woke up on a high after an amazing night participating in the global initiative of ‘One billion rising’.  A group of ladies here in Bingley West Yorkshire, heard stories from courageous ladies who had suffered abuse at the hands of men and relatives in their lives. We then danced to the song ‘Breakthe chain’ and aligned ourselves with our sisters across the world. When I took to twitter I was incredibly saddened to see the breaking furore over a controversial tweet from @daybreak
"Controversial question - can women who are drunk or flirty ever be blamed for being attacked? Some viewers said yes in survey, yr thoughts?"

This tweet came on the back of the Sun newspaper with a front cover of the model Reeva Steenkamp tragically shot this week by her boyfriend the famous paralympian Oscar Pistorious. They used a photo of her in a bikini and the headlines ‘3 shots, Silence and 3 more shots. Twitter was again aghast with the crassness of this inappropriate treatment of a woman and the hash tag her name is Reeva  Steenkamp highlighting the fact that they did not even name this beautiful woman, but commoditised her to sell their paper.
I was soon brought back to the reality and I spent the day thinking about both these stories and what they mean for women in our world.
I have four beautiful daughters and like any mum I have watched them  go out looking very beautiful (my bias but def true) knowing they were going to have a few drinks and a good laugh with their mates and yes when younger pre-husband and partner days maybe even find a date.  
And yes their hemlines are short as is the fashion today but I think we can safely say rape has always been around even when the hemlines touched the floor. We also know that women are raped in countries where the clothes cover almost every inch of their flesh and they never have one drink of alcohol so we can establish rape is not about what women wear or if she has had a few alcoholic drinks.
No this is lazy and disingenuous reporting and treatment of a subject that as highlighted by ‘One Billion Rising’ is and has been a plague to women over many millennia.


Why is it seen as acceptable to let the rapist off the hook by even posing this question?

‘Can women who are drunk or flirty ever be blamed for being attacked?’

Is this rape acceptable because we could see why that young attractive woman was raped, after all she was a ‘looker’?  How does the word ‘blame’ sit comfortably or at all in this conversation?
So yet again we are forced to debate the subject that Daybreak has highlighted and that some have answered ‘yes’ too. ‘Yes women can be to blame if they are raped, if too drunk or dressed too sexily’ you obviously ‘asked for it’.  If we use this line of thought with other subjects then if your lovely new car is stolen it must be your fault for having something worth stealing.
Why is it that we so easily fall into the trap of thinking that rape is about sex, it just isn’t; but it is about the control and power. The rapist clearly fails to see the humanity in the person and they become an object there to be used and abused.
What are we to think of the rapists who choose the elderly or children?  
We find this action easier to condemn after all the term ‘drunk and flirty’ cannot be used here. We struggle to understand these perverts after all ‘what’s that all about’? It’s just sick!
But as I see it the young woman, the elderly woman, the girl, all of them are vulnerable to a man who would rape.
I also think that if I was a man I would be offended with this question, after all it places all men in the role of a potential rapist if all it takes is sexy attire or too many drinks. Are we not educating males to understand about boundaries and of course, No meaning No?
My hope is that we can see changes to how we think about this issue; the United Nation statistic that 1 in 3 women will be raped or abused in her lifetime has got to be addressed at the highest levels.
The blame culture towards women has to stop we need to recognise that rape is an act of violence and leaves many women across the world badly emotionally wrecked. As the song ‘Break the chains’ says, ‘this body is holy’, let us educate our young men to respect this thought and please can we leave behind this ‘blame mentality’.