Outrage at Blaming Rapists, Not Women

Zerlina-Maxwell---HannityA proposal: “Blame the criminal, not the victim.” And there’s an uproar?

Last week rape survivor, Zerlina Maxwell, went on Fox’s “Hannity” to discuss rape and guns. But instead of saying women should drink less, dress modestly, arm themselves and learn self-defense, like she “should have,” she told Hannity:

I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there… If you train men not to grow up to become rapists, you prevent rape.

And all hell breaks loose. The Blaze calls her words “bizarre.” Blogs and tweets say she should get raped.

“Thanks for the feedback, Internet dopes. Why would anybody think that you need some sensitivity training?” responds Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon.

Maxwell tells Salon that, “We need to teach (men) to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy.” Williams points out that when you do, things change:

After Canada launched a “Don’t be that guy” consent awareness campaign in 2011, the sexual assault rate dropped for the first time in years — by 10 percent.

In fact, violence against women is much lower in non-patriarchal cultures that respect women. Both rape and battering were pretty much nonexistent among American Indians before Europeans arrived. Rape and battering have also dropped in the U.S. with a rise in feminism, according to Justice Bureau surveys of victims.

But why the rage when the focus of rape prevention turns from women to men?

Actually, the outrage hasn’t come from everywhere. It comes from right-wing groups — Fox News viewers and the like — who bolster the haves over the have-nots: typically whites, the rich, heteros and in this case, men, over everyone else.

Here, the matter relates to who is free and who is not. Do not even think about asking men to limit themselves. Women, on the other hand, should limit themselves: what they wear, what they drink, what time of day they leave the house… They must prepare themselves for defense against men who refuse to limit themselves. And continuing the right-wing rant, women must be stripped of freedom over their reproductive lives, entirely. No right to your own body in any way.

In this worldview even if rapists ACT, responsibility for the act must fall on the victim. Because men must be free, but women must not.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on March 13, 2013, in feminism, men, psychology, rape and sexual assault, reproductive rights, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. I am OUTRAGED by CONTINUALLY being tarred with THAT ‘Brush’, even though I am BOTH a Wheelchair User & also a Bisexual.

  2. …and yet, it does not matter what we wear, what we drink, what time we leave the house, how old or young we are. I recall, back in the mid-90s, a man was telling me (with outrage) that he could not believe he did not feel comfortable walking around his neighborhood at night. I told him that was not news to any woman. We feel that way when we walk anywhere alone at night all the time.

    • Here’s what one of my male friends wrote me:

      It’s kind of bizarre; can Hannity not see how arrogant he is being when he’s talking over his guest (a rape survivor), shaking his finger at her, and lecturing her about how women should prevent rape — telling them what to do, telling them that they need to get guns — while dismissing her suggestion that men need to take responsibility, that society should educate men and boys to respect women’s autonomy?

  3. Clearly, Mr Hannity couldn’t care less as to HOW arrogant he might appear.

    I agree that his ‘finger wagging’ & lecturing of the lady in question is just WAY, WAY out of order.

    I personally cite the fact that I have been a Wheelchair User since Birth, (via Spina Bifida), for my empathy towards Women.

  4. Thanks for this post and the conversation we all need to have. Spending time telling we women what we must do to protect ourselves against the constant threat of male attacks is an act of terrorism against women. The message is clear. I should be afraid and watchful every day all day of men who cannot and will not be restrained.

  5. What utterly baffles me about the victim-blaming culture is just how can a victim be to blame for the perpetrator’s actions?
    Millions of men and women go out to bars and clubs, a small minority choose to rape and therefore degrade another human being.

    Would a murder victim be blamed for provoking the killer, I wonder?
    Absolutely not.

    • “How can a victim be to blame for the perpetrator’s actions?”

      That’s what always confuses me. And yet those who have more control of ideas can seem to turn things around. For a lot of people, if you hear it enough it must be true – even if it makes no sense.

  6. Coincidentally I have in front of me an article from the new York times Sunday edition back in February called a debate over the legal semantics of rape; I will let be a companion piece to your exposé.

  7. To BroadBlogs – In relation to my previous Comment, Thank You for your showing of empathy in relation to mine. MUCH Appreciated. :)

  8. I watched this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr9yNiHz9Zc about a female ani rape-condom. I was shocked by the comments. Some of those with the most pluses where suggestion that anal sex(sex!) was the solution and that if a man is hurt that way, he would kill the woman. So a man can tear a woman, and nothing will happen, but if she does the same to him in defence, she is dead. This was said with some kind of content. There was even a commenter, who said that men weren’t sympathetic to women, because women weren’t sympathetic to men when it comes to men rape and false accusations of rape.

    I don’t know who is more apologetic racially, but I don’t think it’s always white men who are the most sexist and homophobic, so I’m sick and tired with that: “male, white”.

    • Thanks for the link. The comments are both sad and mystifying.

      I agree that white males aren’t always sexist or racist. I know plenty who aren’t. And where your sexism and racism comes from depends on the medium. So if you are looking at right wing media it tends to be white males (which was where the sexism was coming from in this case). But you can also get sexist and racist white women in right-wing media. But if you’re looking at something like gangsta rap you can get plenty of sexism there, too. So I agree that it’s not always white males with the problem. It just was in this case.

  9. Im completely speechless no matter how women dress and drink that does not mean men are free do to as they wish. Women who dress in sweats and are sober get raped and trying to say we should change the way we live to accommodate men’s dirty mind is beyond stupid. Any person who gets raped whether it may be men or women or children they are the victum and why would they have to change for the abusers horrible morals!!!

  10. There is one issue with the argument that we must “teach men not to rape” is that it almost implies us men are rapists by nature, who must be taught not to follow our natural instincts. It may be semantics, but I think we need to “not teach men to rape”. This would involve examining the elements of our culture that tell men that we have the right to sexual gratification whenever we like, from whomever we choose.

    • I agree with your critique about her specific wording and how it comes across.

      At the same time, to the extent that the culture becomes egalitarian and teaches us all, men and women, to respect women, men (and women) are both taught. Because 99% of rape is committed by men, it’s just more important that men learn.

  11. Thank you for bringing up this very important issue.
    A woman can never blame themselves regardless of the circumstances, or be blamed by others. It does not matter if she is wearing provocative clothing or not, goes home alone through town late one night, or if she is drunk. When someone, decides to use force and take what is not given to them voluntarily, there can never be any excuses for doing that.
    I have had conversations with male friends that thinks that the woman, in some situations may blame herself, especially if she is wearing provocative clothes or are walking late in an unsafe neighbourhood. They think that she must be aware of the risk of exposing herself. What they were saying is that it is not entirely the rapist responsibility, but also the woman who got raped. I was shocked to hear this from my own male friends, and that made me realize that we still have not come so far in regard to women´s rights and their freedom.

  12. Reblogged this on Loss For Words and commented:
    Instead of placing blame on victims we should be exploring ways to change this rape culture we live in. Excellent post.

  13. The outrage in response to Zerlina Maxwell is hideous. She is one of the few brave enough to endure rape and be brave enough to speak out against it, on fox news let alone. I think her words are very wise and are the future of preventing rape and they should be listened to. However patriarchy takes over and she is attacked. Free speech is what makes America, America but to respond to a women who is speaking the truth opposed to what “should be” by saying that she “should be raped” and other ignorant responses is the complete opposite of the purpose of free speech and is definitely no where near encouraging for young women who are rape victims.

  14. i completely agree with what Maxwell proposed I don’t think women should be blamed if they get raped because they were to “sexy” or as they mention for drinking to much. I believe both men and women should have the same rights so why should women stop doing things that men also do because men are walking around raping them. women should have the same right to feel safe so men should be the ones being blamed and being taught that women are not just sexual objects

  15. LOL. This is why I love Fox news. The people who work there say ridiculous and terrible things and we, the audience, gets to laugh at their stupidity. In all seriousness though, it’s so terrible that “whites, the rich, heteros and in this case, men” still think this way. Why can’t they accept that the majority is at fault? America should follow Canada’s lead to ending rape!

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