Nov 23, 2014
Victim Blaming and the Assumption of Rape
Of all the victim blaming I've been hearing since the Bill Cosby rape case blew up on social media, what infuriates me the most is where the women are blamed for just being with Bill Cosby --- they shouldn't have been with him especially because he was a married man and they were unmarried women. Many of the alleged victims had a business relationship with Cosby. For some, Cosby had promised to mentor them in their careers. One victim, a comedy writer, had been invited to work on a comedy routine with Cosby. But even though these women had a business relationship with Cosby, the women are still blamed for being alone with him.
The people who say things like this must think this is Saudi Arabia and not the United States of America. In Saudi Arabia the law is set up with the expectation that a woman alone with a man or men who are not close relatives will be raped by them, because the men in Saudi Arabia cannot control their sexual urges (which is also why the women have to be covered from head to toe). Yet I've known a number of Saudi men and they could control themselves in this country even with all our female flesh exposed. But perhaps that's because here in the United States of America we expect men to control themselves and not go around raping any non-related woman they have access to.
See, here in America, we women assume that men are not rapists. So we act accordingly.
Let me illustrate with some events from my life..............
A large group of us (both male and female) were sent by the company to attend a conference. The conference, as they so often are, was held in a fun location --- in this case Disney World. We decided to extend our business trip into the weekend, paying for the additional expenses out of our own pockets. For that night, we booked several suites each with multiple bedrooms. The sleeping arrangements were set up in advance. I don't know what went wrong, but something certainly did. Because when I arrived at the suite there was one bedroom left and me and two married men needing somewhere to sleep. What didn't happen was rape. It never crossed my mind, and I'm sure it never crossed the minds of my co-workers (one of whom I only knew slightly). Let me tell you what did happen ------ The two married men took the bedroom and I slept on the couch in the living room. They also insisted on paying for my share of the suite.
On another occasion one of my co-workers was retiring. The men in the group used it as an excuse to get a charter boat fishing trip which everyone would have to pay for. Even split among us all the cost of the charter boat was many times the usual donation amount for a retirement gift. But, what are you going to do? You can't say you won't pay for a retirement gift. So charter boat fishing it was. As I was helping to pay for it, I went on the fishing trip. Me and maybe eight men isolated on a boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. It never occurred to me that I would get raped. And, you know what? I didn't. At one point, overcome with sea sickness, I went below deck and went to sleep. I still wasn't attacked. I did wake up with three men sleeping with me. One was sharing the bench I was sleeping on while the other two were on the bench on the opposite side of the room. They'd gotten sea sick and come below deck to sleep, not to rape. The only time a man even touched me on the trip was one co-worker who held out his hand to help me on the boat.
Both of those events happened many years ago. This next event happened earlier this month.
I'd been asked to help in a political campaign. After the election, I spent the day with the candidate, just the two of us. His wife even knew that he was planning on spending the day alone with me. Again, nothing happened. No rape. Not even any sex. Just conversation and the pulling up of a lot of yard signs.
About five years ago at the beach on a Saturday night I met a young, male Navy ensign. (Well, Navy ensigns are all young.) He was concerned because his designated driver was drunk and he, of course, had been drinking. And apparently the Navy takes it very seriously if any of the trainee pilots drive drunk ---- to the point where you can get dropped from the flight training program for that. I understand. We're going to be trusting these people with multimillion dollar equipment and the ability to kill. If they can't drink and drive responsibly, they don't belong in the program. The upshot of that evening was I ended up driving three male Navy ensigns to their apartment building that Saturday night. I was not raped, even though that first Navy ensign had tried to pick me up (something I could only put down to beer goggles due to the age difference between us). No, what happened was the young men passed out in my car.
As women in America, we do not assume that men are rapists. As long as there aren't any warning signals, we assume that the men we work with, the men we socialize with, the men we know and the men we meet are not rapists. And the vast majority of the time, we're correct in that assumption. That is why on the occasions where that assumption proves to be incorrect, I think the full force of the law should come down on the rapist who violated the assumption. In Bill Cosby's case, it's too late for the law, either criminal or civil. But it's not too late for the full force of social censure to come down on him. Because Bill Cosby's being convicted in the court of public opinion, not the court of law. As many of those accusations seem credible to me, I think he deserves it and worse, because Cosby engaged in appalling behavior, especially for a father of four daughters.
To the men who blame the victims for being alone with Cosby ---------- It is you who are assuming that all men are rapists if given the chance, not us. It's you who assume that a women should not be alone with a man, not us. Logically, if that's what you believe about your own sex, then no woman should be alone with you (even when it's work related) because you're a man (if only technically). And to the one man who said that these women shouldn't have been with Bill Cosby without his wife being there, welcome to having a very boring and quiet life having to spend it attached to your wife............if you ever get one.
Because, yes, we women assume we're safe with a man -- especially if it's a professional relationship. Yet when we're not safe, when we're attacked, then that attack is often followed by additional attacks as is clearly demonstrated in the Cosby case. All the people who ask why the victims didn't come forward at the time? At least part of the answer to that question is because of people like you.
Read "Hollywood's Bizarre Take on Rape."
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