Wednesday, July 28, 2010

City of Brotherly you shouldn't have been walking alone

There has been a lot of crime recently... like a lot, especially in the neighborhood I work in (and I'm sure plenty in other areas... this just happens to be the neighborhood I hear about all the time). From the totally horrendous Sabina Rose O'Donnell Case to another young girl who went missing and was found dead having been murdered by her boyfriend, to shootings and muggings, and to flash mob beatings. It's intense and it's scary and it's talked about a lot at the bar I work at... and I think it should be talked about. I think it's important to know what's going on in your community. The one thing that really gets to me, though, is the amount of victim blaming I hear. It makes me so angry I want to hit someone in the head and tell them they were asking for it. But I don't, because ultimately it wouldn't be their fault if I hit them because I could have resolved my anger in another way.

So let's talk about victim blaming, shall we? Victim blaming is when people hold the victim partially or fully responsible for the crime or accident committed against them. Written down like this makes it seem silly doesn't it? Like, who would do that?!? Who would blame someone for a crime committed against them? right? People do it all the time and it's gross.

It happens mostly to women, but I'm sure it happens to guys too. I've just only ever heard it when talking about women as victims of a crime. Women are constantly blamed for the crimes against them. Especially when it comes to rape and sexual assault... "she shouldn't have been wearing those heels/skirt," "she was drunk," "she shouldn't have gone to that party alone," insert a million other things people say. Then there are the women who are in abusive domestic situations: "Why didn't she just leave him." Sex workers "shouldn't be sex workers if they don't be raped or killed." THIS IS ALL BULLSHIT! This sort of rationalization trickles down. "She shouldn't have been in that neighborhood at night." (even though she might live in that neighborhood... just like lots of other people... but that's a whole other thing I think). Then there's when guys like to blame women for even being female. "Well, you're a girl,you shouldn't be out at night alone." Am I supposed to stay at home with my shades drawn? Should curfews be placed on women? Is that what you're suggesting? People are always saying things that victims shouldn't have done. But this needs to stop. IT IS NEVER THE VICTIMS FAULT. It doesn't matter what she was wearing. It doesn't matter where she was walking. No one is "asking" for a crime to be committed against them.

I wish I knew why people blame the victims. I don't know if they're just trying prove to themselves that it could never happen to them. "She shouldn't have been walking down that street alone at that hour (insert: I would never do that, so I will never be killed). I really don't know why people do it.. I'm sure someone does. I'm sure there have been books written about it.... but it blows my mind how easily people just say these phrases and don't see how they're blaming the victim. It's so ingrained into society that I've even found myself doing it to some extent. Which is totally fucked. When I found out about how Sabina was raped and murdered, I was terrified because the crime was so random and so violent. She did not know her attacker and that scared the shit out of me. However, I remember thinking when Piazza murders happened the year before "well she had like kilos of cocaine and millions of dollars (insert, I don't have kilos of cocaine and millions of dollars, so I'm safe). That's victim blaming too. She didn't "have it coming to her." She didn't "deserve what she got."

Victim blaming is incredibly harmful to everyone. It's so internalized in our society that 50% of women believe that rape is partially the fault of the victim. Wrap your brains around THAT article! I can't!

This being said, friends, try to travel in groups and take cabs. Be aware of your surroundings. Phone your friends and let them know that you got home o.k. "Safe" doesn't exist but there are things we can do to try to be "safer." And listen, if something does happen to you, it's not your fault and I'm never going to make you feel like it is... and I'll be damned if I let anyone else do that either.