“Slut Shaming” in Unexpected Places

By Lori Lawson

 

Foreword: If this offends you, I am sorry. I am sorry that you do not see the gravity of the issue of victim blaming, which is an issue that needs a voice. Today, that voice is my voice. Victims are victims. No one deserves to be raped, injured, or murdered, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, age, appearance, or any other factor that has even been used to excuse a guilty party.

While my blog post today may not be directly linked to leadership or community engagement, I think that we could all stand to take a moment and examine who we hold accountable for what actions and why. As a leader, or even community member, it is important to understand how important equality and removing bias are in creating a well-funcioning group. Today’s example is what is known today as “slut shaming.”

In a nutshell, slut shaming is blaming the victim of sexual assault for making themselves a target through the way they dress or act instead of assigning blame for the assault on the rapist. Essentially, this is a manifestation of the idea circulating that women need to be taught not to get raped rather than teaching people not to rape. Now, you may ask, where did I see this occur that was so shocking to me? An interview.

The scenario presented for the group to solve was clear enough: a cheating wife leaves her castle while her husband is away and finds herself face-to-face with a murderer that her friend, a boatman, and her lover do not help her escape from. The task for the group was to determine who was most and least responsible for the murder. Much to my surprise, a common theme of the woman being responsible for her own death over the actual murderer because she was violating a moral code that defines adultery as wrong.

Naturally, my reaction went something like “HELLO?! Since when did cheating on your husband suddenly mean that someone can stick a knife in you until you die without being held fully accountable for it?” As you can see, just like with slut shaming (because that is what this really boils down to), the woman who has violated traditionally socially accepted behavior suddenly takes on more responsibility for the misfortune that has befallen her than a woman who had not, when in reality the person who committed the crime is the guilty one.

Why should this decision make a difference? It shouldn’t. The person responsible for the murder is the person who committed the murder, not the victim. So my message to you is to always carefully evaluate you reasoning before blaming anyone. While I hope none of my peers are exhibiting this specific type of disassociation of blame, this does serve as an example of how sometimes you need to take a step back and examine the motivations behind behavior before simply continuing a trend or already existing, poorly grounded consensus. Look deeper, think more, and then act accordingly – it might just be the difference between letting someone get away with murder or holding them accountable.



4 Responses to ““Slut Shaming” in Unexpected Places”

  1.   lwaldron Says:

    Lori,

    I absolutely agree with your position. You stated valuable evidence backing your position as well, kudos. It is important for our society to be what America stands for- ethics- the difference between right and wrong. This is a sticky situation that most people have blurred positions on. In my hometown, Roanoke, there was a girl who made national news when she went missing back in 2008 and was found in Charlottesville. She was drunk at a Nirvanna concert and left the concert arena to later be murdered. Officials and friends say she was wearing a mini skirt and a little gothic, edgy looking outfit that was a bit revealing. I believe this is America, a country where we pride ourselves on eternal love and the betterment of our country. With that being said, who’s team are we really on? More importantly, I want to be on everyone’s team! That’s AMERICA!

  2.   ooladipu Says:

    I definitly agree with your standpoint. The fact that some of the people involved in the group interview associated the blame to the victim is shocking. It is, however, all too commonly seen and heard…which is disheartening.

  3.   Daedalus Says:

    ~Naturally, my reaction went something like “HELLO?! Since when did cheating on your husband suddenly mean that someone can stick a knife in you until you die without being held fully accountable for it?”~

    ‘There will always be assholes, they exist for good people exist!’

    Also

    ‘Some people just cannot think!’

    And

    ‘People tend to act on their first impulse!’

    Which means that people don’t usually think things through when they commit an action. It is so rare that slut shaming happens.

    If I were to be slut shamed I would punch the guy in the face and knock him out – one quick painful unexpected punch. Problem solved. Onlookers will responded ‘he was asking for it!’

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