Why Does Mayor Blame Assault Victims?

Henriette Reker, Mayor of Cologne, Germany

Henriette Reker, Mayor of Cologne, Germany

Why would Henriette Reker, the mayor of Cologne, Germany, blame women for being sexually assaulted?

You’ve probably heard about Cologne’s New Year’s Eve celebration, where groups of men — maybe more than 1,000 of them — surrounded individual women, groped them and stole their belongings. There were at least two rape accusations.

Yet the mayor merely told women to keep more than an arm’s length away from men? That’s hard to do in a congested square, where people are pushing to get in.

Or, maybe women should just avoid crowded festivities altogether?

But why should women bear the responsibility for the sins of others?

I agree with Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, who tweeted:

I don’t think much of tips for behavior for women, such as ‘an arm’s length.’ Not women are responsible, but the perpetrators.

What’s with the mayor?

So what’s with the mayor?

Some people blame victims because they have unconsciously internalized a way of seeing that protects perpetrators (who are usually men) at the expense of victims (who are usually women). And that’s because we tend to see the world through the eyes of the powerful (usually men) over the more powerless (more often women).

Cologne’s marred New Year's Eve celebration

Cologne’s marred New Year’s Eve celebration

Victims are also blamed when someone fears that accusing perpetrators will make themselves look bad.

The Cologne assailants were described as Arab, and Mayor Reker has been a strong proponent of accepting Syrian political refugees. But many worry that terrorists will filter through as wolves in sheep’s clothing, and are angry with her. (And certainly, refugees do need to be thoroughly screened.) So she may have been worried about adding fuel to that fire.

Ms. Reker may also worry about creating an “us versus them” mentality that plays into ISIL’s hands: make young Muslim men feel like everyone is against them, enrage them, and radicalize them, creating home-grown terrorists.

The problem is not Arabs nor Muslims nor men. The problem is patriarchy

I feel that anyone who commits crimes should pay for them. Regardless of ethnicity.

But we must be clear that the problem is not Arabs nor Muslims nor men. The problem is patriarchy: valuing and privileging men over women. As expressed here: intimidating and demeaning women through sexual assault.

Demonstration against violence against women at Cologne cathedral

Demonstration against violence against women at Cologne cathedral

Rabia Chaudhry is a Muslim woman who wrote an op-ed for the San Jose Mercury News, saying that US Muslims should rally around Islam’s true, peaceful, message. She explains,

True Islam rejects all forms of terrorism. It believes in nonviolent Jihad of the self and of the pen. It believes in the equality, education and empowerment of women.

The Quaran and early Islam, as explained by the Prophet Mohammed, actually had a rather feminist air.

Meanwhile, an average of 10 rapes are reported each Oktoberfest, usually perpetrated by non-Arabs. Karoline Beisel and Beate Wild wrote about the problem of sexual assault at festivities in the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

The way to the toilet alone is like running the gauntlet: within 50 feet, you can be sure to tally three hugs from drunken strangers, two pats on the ass, someone looking up your dirndl, and some beer purposely splashed right down your cleavage.

Whether you are Middle Eastern or have a long German family line (full disclosure, I’m mostly British and German), the problem is an attitude that devalues women.

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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 January 15, 2016, in feminism, psychology, rape and sexual assault, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.

  1. Dear Friend Happy New Year, you can have a good weekend,
    and a good new week, a big hug from Herluf.

  2. “True Islam rejects all forms of terrorism. It believes in nonviolent Jihad of the self and of the pen. It believes in the equality, education and empowerment of women.”

    This reminds me of the communists who argued that their countries were totally free and a workers paradise.

    All religions and religious practices/practitioners have their hypocrisy. But just what sense does it make for Ms. Chaudry to make such a statement when she cannot point to one single Islamic nation on earth where this is in fact true!

    Can you name a single Islamic nation where we ACTUALLY see equality, education, and empowerment of women?

    • We often judge whole communities by the actions of a few. Unfortunately, a teeny tiny minority of Muslims are doing everything they can to (as I said) create an “us versus them” mentality that plays into terrorist hands: make young Muslim men feel like everyone is against them, alienate them, enrage them, and radicalize them, creating home-grown terrorists — Which no wall erected by Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will stop.

      So blaming Islam as a whole, just plays into terrorist hands.

      It’s also wrong:

      I actually know a lot of Muslims. One lives across the street from me, and I have met some of her friends. I also have many Muslim students, and they are all peace-loving as well.

      And it’s not just me. The majority of Muslims are peaceful.

      Plus, Islamic scholars like Dr. Jamal Badawi work to support women’s rights.

      Meanwhile, large majorities of Muslims favor legal, political and professional freedoms for women in North Africa and many countries in the Middle East and the broader Muslim world, according to a 2007 Gallup poll.

      In fact, the Islamic culture of West Sumatra, Indonesia is one of the most peace-loving, egalitarian places on the planet.

      As I mentioned in the post, the Quaran and early Islam, as explained by the Prophet Mohammed, actually had a rather feminist air. Take a look at this post I wrote: Early Islam’s Feminist Air https://broadblogs.com/2010/09/02/early-islam%e2%80%99s-feminist-air/

      The Christian and Jewish scriptures also have versus with God telling his people to go into foreign lands and kill and take everyone’s stuff.

      Fortunately, the vast majority of Christians, Jews and Muslims ignore these sorts of scriptures.

      Once again, I don’t know what the point is in blaming Islam and creating an “us versus them” mentality that plays into terrorist hands: make young Muslim men feel like everyone is against them, enrage them, and radicalize them, creating home-grown terrorists.

      Donald Trump and Ted Cruz go around talking about how we are going to keep Muslims out. That will only backfire:

      The terrorists actually have no power that your average American mass murder doesn’t have — unless we create a mentality that divides and creates terrorists here at home. Trump and Cruz are leading the way on that.

      (Btw, I just might turn this into a blog post, So thanks. You are a treasure trove of ideas!)

      • You completely missed my point! Totally.

        Can you answer my question? Name me an Islamic country where equality, education, and empowerment exist for women? I can certainly name many in the Christian West.

        I happen to agree with what you are saying! But, I find it hard to believe Ms. Chaudry’s utterances.

        I am not blaming the religion. Why Christianity does not have a greatest history. But, there are Christian nations where equality, education, and empowerment does exist for women. Again, can you name a single Islamic nation where such exist?

        The vast majority of Muslims are as you say here in America. Maybe in the world. Indonesia is the world’s largest Islamic country. It has very few problems. It is a very peaceful nation.

        The problems with Islamic terrorism is a purely Arab issue.

      • Huggy, I always appreciate your comments because they are well written, well-thought-out and thought-provoking. And they do often give me ideas for more blog posts.

        Islamic fundamentalism has become widespread in the Middle East, so I cannot name an entire country that is anywhere near gender equal in the region. But Islamic fundamentalism and Islam are not the same thing. Any more than Christian fundamentalism is the same thing as Christianity. In fact, things have gone down hill for women in recent years in much of the Middle East. Iranian women had more freedom before the Ayatollah took over. And in Afghanistan before the Taliban, women often held high status careers. And they weren’t forced to cover themselves all up. In Taliban-occupied areas they do. Rape and sexual harassment have also risen in Egypt in recent years. Some Muslim feminists have stated that Islam needs to go back to its more feminist seventh century roots to move forward.

        But because Islam is not the same thing as Islamic fundamentalism, you can actually find many Muslims who are peaceloving and in favor of women’s rights. And the majority of Muslims are not terrorists or sexual harassers. That is the only point I was trying to make in my post.

        I always appreciate your questions.

      • Well said, Georgia. Seems many of us in the western nations forget that we are supposed to lead by example (assuming, of course, that folks like Trump and Cruz are not the examples) demonstrating universal empathy, education, and understanding).

      • And it will completely backfire if we don’t, won’t it?

  3. I’d check your facts. It appears that the initial New Year’s “complaints” may not have been real. The police reports for the evening do not support the assault and rape claims. There was a disturbance in the square, because some idiot set off fireworks–so the police had to clear the area briefly as a public safety issue. The alleged assaults and complaints by women for that time period do not appear to be any worse than any other event. The mayor of this town is supportive of the refugees, and the rumors of multiple rapes may be in intentional effort to foment racist tensions against Muslims.
    The mayors comments are inappropriate–never blame the victims. However, it would not appear that we have victims in this incident. While I deplore any attitude that devalues women, I am equally outraged at those who would make up crimes in order to create racial strife. It’s the oldest claim in the book (and equally as offensive to women’s autonomy–“They’re raping our women.”

    • I rechecked my facts and the sources I checked said what I said. Those sources include the New York Times, BBC, NPR, and HuffingtonPost. What is your source?

      • I’ll have to search for it. It was an interview with the Chief of Police–referring to the police blotter of complaints filed that evening. I’ll look. (I get my news from dozens of sources.)

      • Okay, but the police have been blamed, too, for not being quicker to act, and actually acting to cover over the crime. So it’s possible that the police chief was trying to cover his own sins, and using a common stereotype that women make up rape allegations — even though I’m not sure what good it would do women to make that sort of thing up.

      • The paper trail for reports is too scattered. And, one needs to be cognizant that there are right wing efforts to scapegoat the refugees. What is needed is a serious effort at investigating. Unfortunately, the messy business left by that first night, will only complicate the matter.

      • I think it’s important to neither let people off the hook, nor put people on the hook, for political purposes.

        And See this:

        Unlike other victims, whose complaints of attacks by foreigners of North African and Arab descent have ignited new debate about Germany’s ability to absorb migrants, Ms. (Caitlin) Duncan said she was rescued by a group of Syrian asylum seekers.
        Amid the swirl of criminal chaos, it seems, there were also acts of chivalry.

        As the crowd swelled and grew more unruly, Ms. Duncan said, a stranger came up and asked if she needed help. Both of them spoke broken German, so the stranger summoned a friend who spoke English. He was Hesham Ahmad Mohammad, from Aleppo, Syria, who had met up in Cologne for the holiday with six or seven other Syrian refugees scattered around Germany.

        The men offered Ms. Duncan money for a taxi to her boyfriend’s parents’ home: “the only address I knew,” she said. They would happily have called her boyfriend, Sebastian Samer, but Ms. Duncan had relied on speed-dial and could not remember the number. “I know there’s a lot of 7s,” she thought, “but that’s not helping me right now.”

        She persuaded the men to form a kind of cordon around her so they could move through the crowd. She described her boyfriend to them, and they eventually found him inside the station. She cried. “I was just so relieved,” she recalled later.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/16/world/europe/in-new-years-melee-in-cologne-a-migrant-was-one-womans-savior.html?emc=edit_tnt_20160116&nlid=41602665&tntemail0=y

      • The discrepancy may lie here: https://home.bt.com/news/world-news/german-police-probe-sex-assault-link-to-known-crime-gang-11364032186222

        Apparently the initial reports were not all made to the Cologne police–but to the victims’ home town authorities. The Police Chief–who initially said there had been no assaults, has now lost his position.

  4. THIS has EVERYTHING to do with unvetted immigration into Europe and we have a president who is content with allowing tens of 1000’s into the U.S despite the FBI’s warning to the contrary..All the political correctness goes the h#ll out the door when this kinda crap happens.This starts with Angela Merkel who allowed this influx and invasion to happen in the first place! This is NOT patriarchy this is a backwards middle eastern culture that truly does not respect women and treat them lower than cattle…lower than dung.
    .

    Oh and btw if this kinda mass assault ever happens here…America is a well armed populace and I can promise it will not go well for anyone who puts their hands on American women.

    • Patriarchy means that we value and privilege men over women. And patriarchy can be hostile or benevolent.

      “A backwards culture that truly does not respect women and treats them lower than cattle…lower than dung” fits well within the definition of hostile patriarchy. Women are treated that way because they’re less valued and less privileged than men.

      (btw, benevolent patriarchy finds ways to limit women by “protecting” them: we men, want you too be safe so we don’t want you to have any autonomy — limit where you go and what you wear, and don’t work outside the home in the cold harsh world…)

      I agree that it is important to vet immigrants.

      The other point you make seems to be related to gun control. I’m wondering why the GOP voted that it’s okay for terrorists to have guns? Don’t you think that we should have done regulations such that these people should not be allowed to have guns: terrorists, wife abusers, the mentally ill, people with long criminal records?

      Of course, the NRA makes more money if they can sell guns to everyone, and so they try to scare the public into thinking that any regulations will lead to taking everyone’s guns away.

      • “The other point you make seems to be related to gun control. I’m wondering why the GOP voted that it’s okay for terrorists to have guns? Don’t you think that we should have done regulations such that these people should not be allowed to have guns: terrorists, wife abusers, the mentally ill, people with long criminal records?

        Of course, the NRA makes more money if they can sell guns to everyone, and so they try to scare the public into thinking that any regulations will lead to taking everyone’s guns away.”

        What do you mean voted by the GOP to allow terrorists to have guns? You mean by not having more regulations or something? If that’s what you mean, well it’s fine to have regulations, but to some extent it can make it hard for law abiding citizens getting guns and not preventing criminals at the same time. All it does is make criminals have guns easier than innocent people. You think terrorists are getting guns legally? They are just like gangs. I’d say 90% of the guns acquired in America from the gangs in America are not bought legally.

        You think Isis and al queda and affiliates or such working for them are getting them legally? No, the black market and online and from each other. It’s not hard for criminals to get guns. As long as guns are being manufactured and sold and sold through the world, they will be able to be had but illegal means. To have terrorists and criminals to not have guns would be to not have guns made and sold at all. That will never happen, guns will always be sold, even if not legally.

      • Here’s an excerpt from the New York Daily News:

        Senate Republicans voted against barring suspected terrorists, felons, mentally ill from buying guns …
        http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/senate-gop-votes-terrorist-gun-bill-article-1.2454448

        They claim the reason is that such restrictions could keeps some innocent people from getting guns.

        Really? If we have evidence of someone as a terrorist we can’t do anything about it?

        Of course, the NRA will have way more sales this way.

        We should do everything in our power to keep terrorists from getting guns.

  5. The mayor’s victim blaming is disgraceful. Will she blame herself if she is ever the victim of a similar crime, for not keeping the correct distance?
    I am curious – does she still hold such a high level position if that is how she views the crimes?
    Great post, thanks 🙂

    • Thanks, I’m glad you liked the article.

      I haven’t heard anything about her being asked to step down, Or being pressured to step down. I think she’s still there.

  6. Not related but another thing that came to me, from unfortunately seeing news of a tragedy posted on fb side newsfeed. It’s a national news thing, and from a NY college. I know you’ve posted things about rape and domestic violence from different angles and different blogs. But while this is similar, it made me want to explore and just question what is up with this also.

    Here’s the link http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/us/college-double-murder-suicide/index.html?sr=fbCNN011916college-double-murder-suicide0333AMVODtopLink&linkId=20470584

    There was a double murder-suicide. There probably was previous physical abuse, but the reports didn’t bring it up or show anything of that. There can be verbal abuse in a relationship even if not physical abuse and controlling ways and such can be part of it too. But similar ingredients seem to show from this guy, such as obvious very low self esteem, but entitlement at the sametime, and I’d say self loathing, for needing such dependence and inability to cope with a break up. And obvious something not mentally right with him. I think a blog would be good exploring what the hell is going on with some men and why some men and it’s the male thing to be seen as “stronger than women”.

    Yet, it’s men often who are the one’s who “can’t cope” or coping issues and their issues of handling things is violence and retaliation. What is going on? It’s like this “If I can;t have you anymore, no man can or will” mentality.. A psychotic ego, and depressive ego that is so damn volatile. This dependence a man needs from a woman to feel of worth and like he’s worthless now and it’s gone and angry and wanting to get psychotic spiteful revenge from this hurt that he can’t cope with apparently and as a result feels his way of dealing with it is literally hurting people in his path. It’s related and I know the domestic abuse aspect of self esteem, but what’s up, or so many times with MEN actually not being able to handle break ups or it hits men harder, even though women are viewed as the more “emotional, weaker sex”. It’s kind of ironic, that it’s men or some men who can’t deal with break ups and resort to violence, stalking, harassing, etc. And I want to say that it’s not the ex girlfriend that was the victim, but a guy, i don’t know if boyfriend, but a guy with her who was stabbed to death too and then the man killed himself later that night. So it’s not just women that could be a victim but another man who the ex is jealous of too or in the path of his anger and will just kill whoever is in such man’s way or path. I’ll copy and paste some quotes in second post

  7. Here’s some from the link.

    “Colin Kingston, 24, of Geneseo was distraught because his girlfriend of three years, Kelsey Annese, had recently broken up with him, Geneseo Police Spokesman Jeffrey Szczesniak said at a press conference.”

    “When the phone call was terminated by Colin, shortly thereafter Colin Kingston took his own life,” Szczesniak said.

    Szczesniak said Kingston had “made some suicidal comments to several people, but there was no actual threats to harm Ms. Annese or anybody else.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/us/college-double-murder-suicide/index.html?sr=fbCNN011916college-double-murder-suicide0333AMVODtopLink&linkId=20470584

    It makes me sad for women being the victims and also said for men in the sense of society or something is going on, where, I don’t know some men are lost or something in their quest of masculinity or something, and in it, they are so troubled and self loathing, but also taught to feel entitled or tough at the same time? I don’t know, it’s just troubling and depressing at the sametime. I know I haven;t wrote anything new and this article is not new, with how you see similar stuff of ex boyfriends who can’t handle things and kill an ex or whatever. But I just wanted to write about it as it’s domestic violence related, but wanted to look at it in this specific part where some men could or might have never hit their girlfriends, before but showed controlling tendencies and then snap or can’t handle life anymore and go to an extreme length, probably knowing the whole time they plan on killing themselves after too. Though he went the easy way out and wish the POS get a lot of time in prison and get messed up a little by his friends in prison.

  8. I find a strong stance and chilly stare usually keeps men away – failing that, a knee in the groin works 100%… but I shouldn’t have to do that, should I?

    • No you shouldn’t. And as you say, the blame should be placed on the person who commits the crime, not the person who is victimized.

      But I would like to point out that correlation isn’t necessarily causal. A woman may take a strong stance or give a chilly stare and never be raped. Other women take on a pleasant demeanor and have also never been raped. Fortunately, most women aren’t raped. And fortunately, most men don’t commit any sort of sexual assault.

      While rapists tend to choose victims who look more vulnerable (and it’s not her fault if she is vulnerable and scared), there is no guarantee that anything a woman does will stop an attacker.

  9. Agreed. Women can devalue and blame women just as men can and some do. Unfortunately some people refuse to wake up from the spell cast by the patriarchy because they stand to lose something- whether it’s politically/personally/professionally. What that does is perpetuate a miserable status quo.

  10. It’s just so sad that this is the atmosphere that women must live in. The sexual assault is bad enough, but to have to be treated as if our behavior is the problem, not the behavior of the assaulters, is sickening. It’s not a woman’s responsibility to “keep away from men” (by the way, if women did take this advice and stay “an arms length” away from men, we’d probably then be bashed as being prudish and bitchy), it’s a man’s responsibility not to behave like a predator. Nothing in the world makes me angrier than victim blaming.

    So now women have to feel nervous about going to parades and festivals, missing out on fun events because of something we can’t control. I went to an outdoor music festival this summer and tried to drag my boyfriend around with me everywhere, but at one point, I had to go to the bathroom while he was in line for something. Walking across a crowded field at night full of drunken guys gave me the worst anxiety ever. Even today as I walked home alone from the library, I kept my eyes out for men walking too closely behind me. It’s just not fair that we have to deal with this fear on a daily basis. It’s time to switch the focus from “women not protecting themselves” to punishing the men who assault.

  11. In our society today you would think that people would me more thoughtful of what a woman has to go through, whether it’s festivals like Oktoberfest or just walking down the street.
    Regardless the excuses people want to say as to why women are being raped is nonsense. There are many things that leads to men thinking it’s okay or blame it on women: (not in any particular order by the way)
    – “they were wearing revealing clothes”… Women are entitled to wear what they feel like wearing (as are men) it’s their own body. No one is EVER asked to be raped. A couple of days ago I saw a picture on the internet where a girl holding up a sign saying something like “I was wearing this & still wasn’t asking for it” (referring to being raped) and what she was wearing was semi baggy pants & a loose band t-shirt. What was that girl’s reason for bein raped?
    – “boys will be boys”… Growing up I remember hearing if a boy is mean to you it’s because he secretly likes you, etc… so these boys never are really reprimanded for their actions, grow up thinking it’s okay to treat women however they please. So when they get in trouble for doing whatever they think it’s okay they blame it on the girl.
    A lot of boys are not taught to respect women as their equal. Because our society has accepted patriarchy as normal we have lost the sense of equality amongst all human beings.

  12. It took me a while to find it but this is the image I was referring to in my previous comment!

  13. It’s weird, I thought europe or some of europe was better than America in some ways with how women are treated or how the culture, or legal system. It’s weird in some european cultures women’s bodies aren’t as sexualized and toplessness is seen as more normal, so it seemed like women’s sexuality was better than in America. Yet, with that said, I see this and I’m like, well this is BS and in some ways like Germany, now I see denmark being ridiculous too. https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/why-teen-who-fended-off-attacker-now-faces-charges-205439785.html

    A girl fended off a man who basically sounds to be trying to rape her, as he was trying to take her clothes off. She had pepper spray and sprayed him and was able to get away, and went to police. The guy hasn’t been caught yet, but faces charges of using pepper spray which I guess is illegal in Denmark. It shouldn’t be as it is and this circumstance should override this BS rule with the fact it helped protect her.

    That’s why I brought up the US, I was surprised because I knew it was legal in America and I saw from the article, that this is in Denmark. Either way it’s such bullshit, the police and that justice system are fucktards for even charging her, $73 is not cheap. The good thing is people have rallied and are paying it for the girl and she has people backing her on the Bs. But more importantly, it’s the fact they are charging girl that was a victim and trying to protect herself and did thankfully, and they focus on this? How about these assholes do something worthwhile and be of worth and fucking,not charge the girl, which they never should have and go after the damn criminal who is still not caught. The second she came to them, the assholes first thought and action should be to get the criminal who tried to rape her. But apparently denmark and europe in some ways is not any better than america and other ways worse in different ways depending on what it is.

    • That’s crazy to charge someone for defending themselves. And pepper spray sounds a lot less harmful than bullets. Or the harm that is caused by sexual assault.

      On your other point I’ve noticed — because I’ve been trying to do some research on this — that it’s kind of hard to make distinctions between the US and Western Europe. In some ways the cultures are so close that it’s hard to make comparisons. And you get people with fundamentalist mentalities in both places. Or like I was reading about someone teaching a sex ed class in some country in Northern Europe and the students being kind of uncomfortable — which surprised me.

      It’s easier to see differences when the cultures are much more different. Like Indians of America’s East coast when Europeans first arrived versus the US now versus countries with high levels of gender inequality.

  14. At my university, I participated in training for our sexual abuse and domestic violence program called Safer where we learned a lot about victim blaming, especially on college campuses. I think the idea of an internalized victim blaming response is really revealing of our human nature. The fact that we can identify more with the powerful and show contempt for the powerless demonstrates how much we fear our own helplessness. I think for the general public, whether conscious or not, accepting the idea that the victim is truly blameless would mean accepting the fact that it could happen to anyone, including ourselves. It makes us feel better to place some blame on the victim because they MUST have been asking for it in some way. We think it would never happen to us because we would never be in the wrong, and this gives us a false sense of security that we so desperately hold on to.

  15. This idea that women should have “more than an arms length away from men” or even that “women ask for it” is simply outrages. It seems that in todays society we hear to often that in an assault it is the victims fault for what had happened. This portrays an image that any sexual assault is not taken seriously. When a person physically harms another person with a weapon there is never question of who is at fault. Also the fact that the ethnicity of the assailant may play a roll in why the mayor may feel a certain way and make such a comment would be outrages as well. No matter what the ethnicity, age, sex, or even sexual orientation of the assailant may be, they are still assaulting another human being and should be trialed for there actions. In todays society we are portraying an image especially for young men around the world that assaulting another person is acceptable when it is not. And many people in higher positions that are supposed to be protecting citizens are the ones portraying this image.

  16. I have another theory about victim-blaming and would like to get your opinion:
    I found that when talking about violence victim-blaming was much more common among those that were at risk of being a victim themselves or in some cases those that feared being accused of being a perpetrator.
    So, I noticed that in regions where violence was frequent people tended to blame it on the victim to a much higher extent than elsewhere. Similarly, woman that are afraid of sexual violence and men that are afraid of being wrongly accused (independently of the team likelihood) were prone to blame the victim.
    And I don’t find it illogical even though it perpetrates rape culture and should be questioned. But if I feel that I am at risk of being victimized without many real options to avoid it, then the easiest way to regain a subjective feeling of security is to blame the victim and telling myself that this could never happen because I would never behave like the victim.
    I had this theory for a couple of years and I am not sure whether that phenomenon might explain the mayor’s response at least partially – after all she was attacked in public with a knife just a couple of months ago and she had to be hospitalized so the perpetrator obviously wounded her and she wasn’t able to keep that distance that she now suggests women to keep.

    • It’s true that people who could be potential victims also can blame the victim’s for exactly the reason you suggest: it gives them a sense of security. “If I just don’t behave that way I will be safe.” don’t behave

      As to the likelihood that someone blames the victim, hoping to feel secure vs wanting to protect themselves in some other way, as happens with rape culture, for instance, I don’t know exact percentages of each group.

  17. It is so sad that something so terrible can happen to some and then that person being blamed for it! it is not right. All women should have to be able to say they dont want sex and be respected. There are lots of misinformed people out there who think of rape in a very stereotypical way. I do think there is allot of people who want to think so they can feel safe. the reality of it is that most rapes are a power thing. The perpetrator want to use his, or less likely, her, power to take something that is save for only a selected few. This intimate thing is held on to with and has a great deal respect around it. Taking that from someone can make you feel power and give people a rush much like a drug. This is not the fault of the victim but that of the person disrespecting and taking what is not theirs. You would blame a person if that took your car away from you if you let them barrow it, wouldn’t you? Then why is it the fault of the girls who kissed a man, and then get raped? It isn’t! We all need take responsibility for our action. A person should be able to stop sex at any point for any reason. Any infringement on that right should have a consequence! It causes so much harm to have it be anyway else. If you want that rush you should go do blow and mess your life up not someone else’s!

  18. Ajoy Thamattoor

    Blaming the victim is an old game. It has been played against many suppressed groups but the most against women. Women have been asked to dress modestly to hide from the male gaze, a gaze considered a biological given. Women have been asked to stay at home, and even not to talk to men, all to avoid “tempting” them. The Cologne Mayor’s remarks fit that pattern, which, coming from a liberal Western woman, is shocking. However an intersectional analysis clarifies the issue. The right-wing has used the issue to tar all Muslim refugees and to argue for closed borders. The Cologne Mayor has fallen into trap of defending one victimized group at the expense of another, forgetting that many injustices overlap or add across our various identities. It is true that many of the refugees in this case do come from societies far more patriarchal than today’s West. However there is no reason why they cannot be taught the ways of the West, perhaps through courses seeking to acculture them, and trained to shed these aspects of their original mores. To me the question of whether Islam is antifeminist is a moot one. Theology exists only in the framework of an interpretation by the adherents of the religion. Admittedly way too many interpretations of Islam today, by the Taliban and Iran and the Arab countries, are negative on women but there is no reason why other interpretations cannot eventually dominate with help from friendly forces.

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