Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blaming the Victim

"It's society that needs to change, not the length of my skirt."

Sooo, regarding the crime of rape, I think it's fairly accepted these days that the civil approach is not to blame the victim. That is, if a girl dresses in provocative clothing, or if she acts in a flirty manner, or what have you, this is not an invitation for sexual assault. I am fully behind this approach. In fact, it's the only humane approach; which places the responsibility for rape in the hands of the rapist himself, while allowing for the rest of us the full range of free expression. In other words, I can express myself in a sexual manner if I like, and that does not constitute an excuse to be sexually assaulted. (Thank you very much.)

But I think this approach can be expanded a little bit further. Some so-called feminists have a bit of a misandrist streak and love nothing more than to define expressions of male sexuality as being inherently misogynistic and degrading of women. You hear this a lot from the anti-pornography camp. Well, here's the way I look at it. If I feel compelled to create artistic renditions of girls as viewed in a sexual light through the gaze of the horny male, I don't see how any part of that involves my supporting the rape and degradation of women. If somebody looks at pictures and goes out and rapes a woman, the rapist is to blame, not the pictures, and not the person who created those pictures. If women aren't to be blamed for being raped because they dressed provocatively, then neither should I be blamed for encouraging the rape of women by taking provocative pictures of them.

Because you see, thinking that a picture depicting a girl in a sexualized manner invites rape is no different from thinking that a girl presenting herself in a provocative manner (by way of dress or behavior) invites rape. It would be absolutely ridiculous to suggest that women ought to be allowed to contextualize themselves as sexual agents, but that men should simultaneously be barred from viewing them that way. Even were it possible, it would completely disrupt the sexual chemistry between males and females. You simply cannot write off all male appreciation of female sexuality as the degradation of women, and proof of their support of rape. The key to preventing sexual assault is having a clear understanding of the line between sex and rape. Defining all sexual attention as assault doesn't accomplish that.

So please, place the responsibility where it belongs; don't treat people who express themselves sexually (and that includes pornographers) as if they were inviting or supporting sexual abuse.

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