I want to compare two different scenarios. In scenario one, I lock up my home when I have to leave. When I return, I find out that someone has broken in and stolen my TV, PC, games consoles, and various other expensive pieces of property. In scenario two, I leave my front door wide open when I leave, and when I return, I find that a similar burglary has taken place. In neither situation is it justified that my property has been stolen, but in scenario two, I’m more likely to receive some criticism from others for not taking the precaution of locking my door, than I would in scenario one, were I did take precautions, but something bad happened anyway. The story behind scenario two could then potentially be used as a warning to others to take the kind of necessary precautions that I should have taken myself. This isn’t being done to shame me, or to “blame the victim”. It’s being done to hopefully prevent other people from experiencing something similar themselves, by informing them of the potential consequences of not taking the right precautions.
Lets give another example of these kinds of scenarios. In scenario one, I’m walking home at night and there are two routes home. One is a long walk around the block, and the other is a shortcut through a dark alley. Concerned for my safety, I choose the long route, but I end up getting attacked and mugged anyway. In scenario two, I choose to walk down the dark alley instead, holding a wad of cash in my hand while doing so, and the same thing happens. Once again, in neither situation is it justified that I was attacked and mugged, but in scenario two, it’s more likely that I’ll receive some criticism for being irresponsible, and my story could be used as a warning to others: “Don’t walk down a dark alley alone at night, with your money out. Keep your money hidden, and try to stay in well lit and open areas.” Once again, this isn’t being done to shame or “victim blame” me. It’s being done to prevent others from getting into a similar situation themselves by warning them of the potential dangers of doing what I did.
So now that that’s out of the way, let me get to the main point of this post. A few days ago, Irish radio host George Hook created a massive controversy when discussing a recent case in the UK, in which a 19 year old girl was allegedly raped. The girl in question, met a man at a bar, went off with him to have consensual sex, and claims that she was soon after, raped by one of his friends. Hook made it clear that the rapist is a scumbag, and he condemned his actions fully. However, he did also make a point of raising the issue of the girl’s own behaviour. To quote what he said:
“She was passed around went the story apparently. She went to bed with one guy and he went out and another guy comes in. She doesn’t want to have relations with the second guy but he forced himself upon her. Awful,
But when you then look deeper into the story you have to ask certain questions. Why does a girl who just meets a fella in a bar go back to a hotel room? She’s only just barely met him. She has no idea of his health conditions, she has no idea who he is, no idea what dangers he might pose.
But modern day social activity means that she goes back with him. Then is surprised when somebody else comes into the room and rapes her. Should she be raped? Course she shouldn’t. Is she entitled to say no? Absolutely. Is the guy who came in a scumbag? Certainly. Should he go to jail? Of Course. All of those things.
But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger? You then of course read that she passed out on the toilet and when she woke up the guy was trying to rape her. There is personal responsibility because it’s your daughter and my daughter. What determines the daughter who goes out, gets drunk, passes out and has strangers in her room or the daughter that stays out, stays halfway sober and comes home, I don’t know. I wish I knew what the secret of parenting is.
Is a point of responsibility the real issue?
There is a point of responsibility that young girls are taking for their own safety,”
Now I specifically bolded the parts where he condemns what happened, but none of this matters. What people are focusing on instead are the bits where he talks about personal responsibility. You see in an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any rapists, women wouldn’t have to ever feel unsafe, and there would be no need for taking any precautions, just like how in an ideal world, I should be able to leave my doors unlocked without getting burgled, or walk down a dark alley with a wad of cash in my hand, without getting mugged.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world with bad people, who do bad things. People are getting outraged at Hook, claiming that he’s victim blaming, and trying to tell young women what they can and cannot do. That’s not the impression that I get at all. I don’t think anyone is telling young women that they don’t have the right to get stupidly drunk, and go off with a stranger they’ve just met and know nothing about for sex. What he’s saying is that there are predators out there who will victimise vulnerable people if they get an opportunity to do so, and is trying to warn other young women to look after themselves so that they don’t end up becoming their victims. He just articulated in a very poor manner.
I’ve come across numerous quotes online from people suggesting that instead of teaching young women to take responsibility for their own safety, we should “teach men not to rape”. The fact is, men already know not to rape. Rapists don’t rape people out of ignorance that’s it wrong. They do it because they’re bad people, who simply don’t care. By the same logic, we may as well be saying that we should teach people not to murder or steal, in the ridiculous belief that when potential murderers and thieves find out that murder and stealing are wrong, they won’t do it anymore.
No, what I believe is that we should be teaching people about the very real risks and dangers that are out there, as a warning, rather than living in a fantasy world were people are free to do whatever they want, without any potential consequences. If a woman decides that she still wants to get extremely drunk and go off with a man that she just met, after being informed of the risks involved, then that should entirely be her right, and nobody should tell her otherwise. But lets not pretend that declaring something to be a “right” means that any dangers associated with it, suddenly stop existing.