Tag Archives: victim blaming

We Are Penn State: Victim-blamers and Apologists

In light of the horrible allegations of child sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky and the implications of Joe Paterno, Penn State University president Graham Spanier and the county police in covering up/ignoring reports of the abuse, there’s been a great deal of talk on my campus (Penn State Abington, about 3 hours away from main campus) about sexual abuse, victims, athlete privilege and so on.

Quite frankly (and unsurprisingly) I’m pretty disgusted with a lot of what I’m hearing coming from my fellow Penn State students.

Let me lay out the allegations for those who may be unaware: Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach was arrested on 40 counts of child sexual abuse. According to the allegations, Sandusky used his status as a Penn State coach to take advantage of young boys; he founded the Second Mile program to help underprivileged boys from troubled backgrounds–these are the boys it’s alleged that he abused. This abuse has supposedly gone on for the past 15 years and there are all kinds of implications that Joe Paterno (head coach of Penn State) and  Graham Spanier may have had a hand in keeping his crimes on the down-low–after being notified by an incident of sexual abuse they barred him from bringing children on the Penn State property but still allowed him to operate a summer camp. More and more details leak out every day–today a mother of one of the alleged survivors claimed that Sandusky admitted to her that he touched her son inappropriately in the shower.

So basically, there’s a lot of fucked up shit going on here. And there are a lot of high profile people involved. This has become big news, not just in Pennsylvania but nationwide. Penn State is a big name school in the U.S.; people know what you’re talking about when you say Penn State and it’s considered a Public Ivy university. There’s been tons of discussion on my campus (and other Penn State campuses too, I’m sure) about all of this and, while some of it has been interesting in-depth discussion, a lot of it has been nothing more than disgusting victim-blaming, apologist bullshit. I’ve talked about rape-culture, rape-apology, victim-blaming and even athlete privilege (which is at play here in a big way) an astounding number of times. So I think, to keep myself sane and my blood-pressure normal, I’ll just list some of the more horrible and/or ignorant things I’ve heard said on this campus in regards to these crimes.

  • There’s no reason why this should reflect badly on the school/affect the Penn State name.
  • I don’t see why this is such a big deal/why it’s national news
  • This is just like the Duke Lacrosse team case and I think it’s being blown out of proportion
  • The parents are just looking for attention/money
  • I don’t think Joe Paterno/Graham Spanier should be blamed for their actions

And possibly the worst of all….

  • Children lie.

I really don’t know what else to say other than I don’t have much Penn State pride right now. I refuse to blame these children, who may have gone through immense trauma and abuse–children who came from troubled or lower income backgrounds and were taken advantage of by someone in a position of power. I refuse to make excuses for people who may–in any fucking way–have aided in hiding these crimes. And I refuse to participate in shaming, the blaming, and the bullshit. Penn State: get your shit together.

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This post is for Britni

Tonight, I read a piece of vile, victim-blaming apologist bullshit in regards to something that happened to Britni. Britni is someone that I admire. I enjoy her blog a LOT. I look up to her brash, unapologetic sass and her cute sense of style and how she’s not afraid to call out a rape culture for what it is. Britni is not afraid to talk about when she is sexually assaulted or raped; she is giving a strong voice and face to sexual assault survivors everywhere and for that she is one of my heroes.  Britni gets a lot of shit heaped on her. And it makes me sad.

If I tell you no, stop. It doesn’t matter if I’ve said yes to 1, 2, and 3, if I say no to 4, you fucking stop. That’s called consent.

If I am wearing a piece of clothing that bears a fair amount of skin and I get sexually assaulted don’t you fucking dare blame it on what I was wearing. That is called victim blaming.

If I get raped in the dead of night while walking home from the bar by a group of men, don’t you fucking dare blame me for being out in the middle of the night after drinking. That is called rape apology.

How about we as a fucking society start blaming THE RAPISTS AND MOLESTERS for their own fucking actions? We always want the victim to take responsibility for their actions; why not the fucking criminal in the matter? I’ve quoted this before and I’ll quote it again, from Shakesville:

Quite literally, the only thing a person can do to avoid being raped is never be in the same room as a rapist. Since they don’t announce themselves or wear signs or glow purple, that’s not a very reasonable expectation, is it?

Enough victim blaming. Enough.

I’m sick of seeing rapes and sexual assaults being used as ammo as to why female sexuality is the thing that is so damned dangerous rather than all the rapists out there who are doing the goddamn raping. I’m sick of it. Britni doesn’t deserve to be blamed for her sexual assaults. When Britni felt uncomfortable with the situation she tried to leave as quickly as possible and then she was further violated; but it’s still her fault for not making enough of a scene. Because you know, making a scene always stops them in their tracks. Fuck that noise. Fuck that rape apologist bullshit. STFU, rape apologists.

Britni, this post is written entirely for you. For you and in defense of you. Because you don’t deserve that bullshit and even though you’re strong, sometimes everyone needs people standing behind them, giving them support. <3

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Rape-apology and fame privilege

You know what I’m sick of?

Rape apology.

Rape apology is everywhere, whether it’s judges deciding that sex workers cannot be raped (they’re just being robbed from, you know? ‘Cause they’re whores!), rape victims being blamed for their own assaults because they didn’t regulate their own behavior, to people just not caring enough about other human beings to give a shit about whether or not they’ve been violated in one of the worst ways possible.

That last one is something that I recently encountered at my job. I was on break with the other ladies (I’m the youngest person where I work; all the other women are from their mid-30s to mid-60s) and the conversation got around to football, not my favorite subject since I don’t follow sports. Two of the women are Steelers fans, and one of them remarked that their quarterback was ‘getting into some trouble’. This sparked something in my brain that I remembered hearing about so I said, “Didn’t he rape someone?” The response: a disheartening helping of rape-apology bullshit.

Both of the women, who are fine, lovely ladies that I enjoy working with, starting making excuses not only for his alleged behavior but for the behavior of all men anywhere who may possibly rape a woman. One immediately brushed it off by saying, quite dismissively that it was only alleged. To quote my other co-worker:

These women get around rich men for their money and you have to know that the one thing about a man is his sex drive. He’s only a human being.

So…if you’re a gold digging woman who is around a man for his money you HAVE to expect to get raped. Because that’s what men are: sex drives. So much so that they WILL rape you. I’m sorry, but aren’t men fucking tired of this shit just as much as women? Doesn’t it upset them that they’re basically equated to uncontrollable sex drives that will completely and totally violate another human being just for sex? Saying that it’s just normal human behavior to expect from a man is so insulting and places all of the blame squarely on the victim; it furthers the notion that it’s women who need to change their behavior and not that we need to teach people not to fucking rape other people.

But this reveals another kind of bullshit that we ALL see everywhere: fame privilege. Would these women be defending this man if he weren’t the quarterback of their favorite football team? We saw something similar back when Chris Brown beat the shit out of Rihanna. People (a huge number of them women, sadly) dismissing his behavior on the basis that he’s hot and singer that they love. We saw it when Roman Polanski, a man who after being accused of rape (the subsequent amount of bullshit that followed the accusation is all discussed a little more in depth here) fled the country and evaded prosecution (or indeed punishment of any kind) FOR THIRTY YEARS, was arrested; dozens of people and filmmakers cried out against it. I get so sick of hearing people defend heinous behavior just because someone is famous or talented. It’s difficult to accept that your favorite singer or sports player or what have you has done something that is so fucked up (as I’ve had to learn being a fan of Polanski’s films and also recently while coming to terms with the ableism in Evelyn Evelyn) but the victims of these crimes deserve to be acknowledged not judged. We as a society need to STOP placing blame on these people and further marginalizing them. Excusing famous people an a large scale makes it all the more acceptable to excuse it on a small, personal scale.

It makes it more acceptable to tell a girl she was asking for it by wearing a skirt and drinking a beer. It makes it more acceptable to judge a woman who hasn’t found the strength to leave a man who has systematically abused her to the point that her self-esteem is so low that she doesn’t believe that she deserves better and continues to stay with him. It makes it more acceptable to make light of and normalize rape, with horrible jokes like the one on Family Guy where Quagmire rapes Marge Simpson (who afterward claims to have enjoyed it; women love rape) and subsequently kills her (and her whole family). And all of it fosters a rape culture that glorifies and even fetishizes violence against women. A culture wherein high-end fashion uses gang rape imagery in their advertisement:

This is just one example of all the many, many, many, many examples of how normalized rape and violence against women is in our society.

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of rape-apology. I’m sick of being told that women need to regulate their behavior to avoid being raped. As if watching what you wear, how much you drink, this or that truly has any real factor in whether or not you are raped.

Let’s create a scenario. Let’s pretend that I’m in a room, a party maybe, with a rapist. How about instead of me watching what I drink or making sure my tits and legs are covered and I’m wearing appropriate clothing that will not incite this rapist’s desire for me, instead of me going to all these lengths to ensure that I’m not responsible for my own rape how about THAT FUCKING RAPIST JUST NOT FUCKING RAPE ME. How about having enough fucking respect for another human being to not sexually violate them? How about we start holding these fucking rapists accountable, completely fucking accountable, for their actions. No more of this roundabout language that misplaces the blame. No more victim blaming. To quote Melissa at Shakesville:

Quite literally, the only thing a person can do to avoid being raped is never be in the same room as a rapist. Since they don’t announce themselves or wear signs or glow purple, that’s not a very reasonable expectation, is it?

Enough victim blaming. Enough.

People get raped because rapists rape them. It is as simple as that. World, I have this to say to you: stop. Stop using rape as a way to control and regulate the way women live. As an excuse to try and force us back into traditional ideas about how women are “supposed to behave”.

I hate living in a world where I am always a potential rape victim simply because I have a vagina. I hate living in a world where rape has become expected and even, it would seem, acceptable male behavior. I hate that I know women who are afraid of speaking out for fear of being blamed for something that was done to them. I hate that there is a complete validity to that fear because we live in a victim-blaming society.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and I wanted to contribute to the fight against rape and rape culture. I have never been raped but I have experienced different forms of sexual assault, much of it a result of simply being a woman who talks openly about sex. I’ve been harassed to get on cam and flash my tits and, after repeatedly declining and giving my personal reasons why I’m declining, was told that I can retain my dignity ‘because no one else will know about it’. When I told him to go find porn to watch, of which there is a VAST amount of online, he said it’s different when it’s a girl you know. It’s more real. Apparently it’s better when you coerce a ‘real’ girl into doing something she doesn’t want to do. I’ve had people try to engage in cyber sex that I in no way invited (other than, again being a woman who talks openly about sexuality). I’ve been called a whore and a slut for my sexuality. I experience these things and so do countless other women. It is reality.

I won’t tolerate rape apology bullshit anymore. I’m sick of hearing it. I’ve made a decision that from now on, when I hear rape apology I will speak up against it. I hope that I can stick to this. In a world where women are routinely oppressed and shouted down when they try to counter fucked up shit, I know that it’ll be hard and I’m gonna be dismissed A LOT. But I can’t fucking handle hearing the shit anymore. The day my two co-workers started excusing the alleged rape by the Steeler’s quarterback I went on a tangent about rape and violence against women and the different ways women are conditioned to behave by our society. And while I know that neither of them really listened or believed what I said I still felt better than I would have if I had just sat there and said nothing. It’s hard. But speak up if you can. Fight the bullshit. And if you have a story, please tell it.

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