Every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
And almost every single time this happens, someone either publicly or privately blames the victim for not doing more to prevent the assault.
One person tired of this blame game is Kate Harding whose new Tumblr Don’t Get Raped points out how absurd and offensive victim blaming is.
The simple blog features attention-grabbing headlines like “Don’t go to the gynecologist” and “Don’t bum an Advil when you’ve got a headache” drawn from real life stories of women being assaulted under those circumstances. The posts are meant to show how quickly our society is to tell victims not to do ordinary things in order to avoid assault.
“I hope everyone can look at this blog and see the absurdity of telling women over and over that if they don’t drink, don’t wear ‘slutty’ clothes, don’t walk alone at night, do learn self-defense, etcetera, they’ll be safe,” Harding told the Daily Dot. “The list of situations to avoid could go on forever, and trying to keep up with it would eventually mean holing up in a cabin off the grid somewhere and growing your own food.”
While there are thousands of victim blaming stories that Harding has read about or seen, it was the most recent case involving Arizona Judge Jacqueline Hatch that put the Chicago-based writer over the edge.
Earlier this summer a woman was groped in a Coconino County, Ariz. bar by former Arizona Department of Public Safety officer Robb Gary Evans. Evans was convicted of sexual abuse on July 2 and sentenced to two years of probation. After the sentencing Hatch shared the following statement to the victim in the courtroom:
“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you. I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it. You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.”
The statement caused an uproar around the country and inspired a Change.org petition to have Hatch removed. It currently has 16,500 digital signatures. Hatch has stood up against the calls for her resignation but did issue a public statement apologizing to the victim Saturday.
It’s stories like that in Arizona, and the countless more involving rape, which prove that as a society we have a long way to go in terms of respecting victims.
“It can happen because you married the wrong guy, went to the wrong doctor, walked down the wrong street, or hung out in the wrong dorm room. It can happen because you trusted the wrong police officer or football coach or teacher or priest or pastor or guru or plumber or or friend,” Harding said. “Bottom line, we as a culture have to stop acting like by changing their behavior, women can eliminate the threat of rape on an individual level. That’s dangerous and delusional thinking.”
Photo by Patty Michels