Trigger warning: This article deals with the topic of rape/sexual assault.
There’s no doubt the media has a strong influence over public opinion. We consume media sources in our everyday life, consciously and subconsciously.
The media can shape the thoughts and views of a society, and when sources are publishing similar messages, we can be influenced to believe what they are saying is the only way to solve societal issues at hand.
How many news pieces do young women read or view, from columnists and reporters warning of the dangers of walking home alone, or wearing heels at night? How many times, are females told of the dangers of consuming too much alcohol while out, or dressing too provocatively, because in doing this we are increasing our chances of being assaulted in some way, by perpetrators? Why are we educated to believe it’s something that we’re doing, that puts us in line to being a victim?
Simply, this is total bullshit and needs to stop.
The idea of drilling into women to be vigilant or to be aware of their surroundings to lessen their chances of becoming a victim is bullshit. There’s not one single girl I know that is blissfully naive to the dangers that can lie out there. But why are we constantly putting blame back on the victim, rather than solely blaming the perpetrators? Whether it’s cases like the Steubenville rape case, where the victim was blamed for being ‘too drunk,’ or Jill Meagher, where many people admonished the fact that she was walking home alone; somehow, the victim still seems to be getting some of the blame for the crimes being committed against them.
Today I was walking home from the station, which is close to my house, in broad daylight. As I approached my apartment, a guy in a motorcycle pulled up beside me, and started trying to have a conversation with me. As I turned into the entry of my apartment building’s courtyard, he continued to follow me in, yelling out things like ‘Tell me ya name love!’ and ‘Can I take you for a ride?’
Apart from everything that is obviously wrong with this situation, the thing that I also found scary was when I got inside was that I immediately wondered if I had brought this on myself somehow. Why? Because I was wearing heels and I was walking alone. Because too many articles I read in the media have subconsciously crept into my thoughts, and made me think that if I’m doing something as minor as wearing heels, that I am therefore doing something wrong and have somehow brought it on myself to be harassed in some way. Even at 2pm in the afternoon.
Being drilled into us that what we’re wearing and how much we’re drinking can cause us to become victims, is wrong. It’s patronising, and it’s putting some of the responsibility of any random attacks, harassment or abuse, onto women. As a society, we need to stop questioning whether there’s any way a woman could have prevented an attack, and start putting the sole blame on perpetrators. Because newsflash: They are the only ones to blame.
A rape isn’t caused by a woman walking home alone at night. An attack isn’t caused because a woman was dressed too provocatively. A sexual assault isn’t caused because a woman was wearing shoes that clicked on the pavement as she walked. A rapist causes rape. The perpetrator causes an attack or an assault. It’s time to stop making up bullshit excuses as to why this is happening and who is to blame. The message to send out is not ‘don’t wear heels’ or ‘don’t walk home alone.’ The message to send out is ‘Don’t rape, attack or assault another individual.’
The victim blaming needs to stop. It’s as simple as that.
If this post or any of the comments bring up any issues for you, or if you need to speak to someone please call 1800-RESPECT or the NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017.