Victim-Shaming, Slut Shaming, and Other Things That Make Me Angry

11:06 PM

Seriously, I will smack the next person who makes a joke about sexual assault, suicide, mental illness, etc. Just no, I can't handle it. There is no need for it.

I mean hasn't your mother ever taught you if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all?

The reason I decided to rant about this topic is because I am currently volunteering at the Sexual Assault Centre and my position requires 54 hours of training. This training teaches you everything about, around, and involved in sexual assault. I've learnt legal issues, trauma, suicide intervention, stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, media and sexual violence, and so forth. I feel like I am literally bursting with knowledge right now, and that by the end of this training course, I may just end up hating men. Maybe not all men, but certain men out there.

Sexual assault is such a broad term and touches on so many issues, but it is illegal for a reason. So it literally blows my mind how some people take it as a joke. Even worse, how so many people blame the victim.

I'm sorry what?

You're right it was totally her fault because she went out and got too drunk. It's definitely her fault because she was clearly asking for it with her "revealing outfit". What was she thinking sending that picture to a guy, it's her fault it's all over the internet.

NO.

It's not the victim's fault. Why? Something called consent, learn about it.

It's simple really and it legally outlined crystal clear so there's no misunderstandings. When has consent not been given?

  1. If it has been given by someone else- we can only consent for ourselves (over the legal age of 16)
  2. If it has been obtained through the abuse of power, trust, or authority
  3. The person has said no, or implied no, through words or actions. YOU DON'T JUST NEED TO SAY NO
  4. The person is incapable of giving consent (influence of alcohol, a disability, drugs, etc.)
  5. Person withdraws consent or changes their mind- even if you said yes before, you are allowed to change your mind.
It's a pretty clear outline, so I really can't understand how people can say they didn't know it was considered sexual assault if the girl was drunk and you took advantage of her. Nor do I understand how it was her fault it happened, she shouldn't have drank because then it would never happen. No. Stop and think about what you're saying. First of all if she wants to drink, she is allowed to drink. That should not have anything to do with someone else's actions. Second of all, blaming her takes away the responsibility of the individual who decided to take advantage of her. If she was drunk and passed out, she could not legally give consent. Therefore, they had no legal or moral right to take advantage of her. By blaming her, you are stating that it is okay that the "rapist" disrespected HER boundaries, disrespected HER body, and disrespected her as a human being. By blaming her you are a part of the problem we see in rape culture and I have no respect for you. She is responsible for her actions, not the actions of the people around her. 

Think of it like this if you're still not getting it: If someone stuck their foot out on purpose and you tripped on that person's foot, is it your fault? Well clearly the answer is no. You're not responsible for someone making the deliberate choice to stick out their foot. So why is a girl who decides to drink and who passes out or is not thinking rationally because she is under the influence responsible for someone else's deliberate choice to take advantage of someone who they know is not in the right mind to consent to something. 

As for all this slut shaming via media- I also have no respect for you. "Sexting" and sending sexualized pictures is a big part of sexual exploration, especially for youth and young adults. It's a new way of sexual exploration. A lot of people engage in it, whether they want to admit it or not, especially with the invention of Snap Chat. I feel like it's a normal process and a normal way to sexually explore. Sexual exploration is NORMAL. Not taboo, at least not anymore. I mean even Shakespeare was a highly sexualized man if you've ever read some of his plays, and he was alive how many years ago?

"Sexting" or sending the pictures is not the problem. This is also not just a "girl phenomenon". If you've ever done you're research you will find that men and women send almost equally as many sexual photos. Shocker right? So why is it just women who are getting slut shamed and why are they to be blamed.

Growing up is hard in this world and fitting in is all people want to do. Someone people might send a person a nude photo because they are in a relationship, the individual persistently asked for the photo and they gave in because "everyone is doing it", black mailed into doing it, peer pressure, the list can go on. But the main point is when someone shares that photo to the other individual there is a mutual consent there. As soon as someone else shares that photo with another person, and the individual in the photo has not consent to this, we get a problem. The mutual consent that was once there has now been broken.

But why are we so quick to point the finger at for example the girl who sent the photo? Why are we now going to call her a slut for doing that? Why does this legitimize harassing her to sometimes the point of contemplating suicide? Wouldn't it be better to address where the problem started? Wouldn't it be better to shame the person who shared the photo with everyone else? To make that person realize what they did is wrong and they broke the consent. It's so easy to say "well you shouldn't have taken that photo in the first place, you were asking for it." but no one ever really says "well why would you share that photo with everyone else, when that individual consented to only you seeing the picture?" In the Amanda Todd case no one seemed to question or scold the boys who screen shotted her video of her flashing them. No one really scolded the boy who black mailed this girl into sending more photos, only to share them on social media even though she followed his instructions. Instead people blamed her, shamed her, physically assaulted her, told her to kill herself while sending pictures of bleach. Do you know what it feels like to literally feel like you have no one by your side? To wake up every morning with not one, but THOUSANDS of people shaming her? To have to switch towns, schools, etc and never escape it? To be told it's your fault? Not the kid who shared the picture and disrespected and violated your trust? Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? That awkward stage where you struggled with self-confidence, struggled to find your place in the world, to ground your feet. Where you were willing to do what it took to fit in, sometimes not even questioning the cost? I can't imagine what that poor girl went through, but clearly it was more than she could handle because she was willing to take her own life than live on this earth and face another day. 

Boys, girl, adults, etc., all engaged in shaming her. Thats horrific. Blaming a teenager and persistently harassing her. People who engaged in that should be ashamed to know they played a part in her death.

Rape culture disgusts me. Remember the rape chant at a Nova Scotia University?  University students who should no better chanted "Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent, G is for grab that ass." Hundreds of students chanting that.

I literally could go on and on about this, but I feel like I got enough off my chest so far. I'm not saying that I have never engaged in shaming or things like that, but these past few years I have definitely opened my eyes and am ashamed at how some people view these things. Training to work with these individuals has shown me first hand the damage some of these people go through. Everyone deserves to be happy and my heart bleeds for these people. I just want to hug them all and promise them it will all be okay. But I could never promise them that, not in this world. 

Think before you speak, before you blame, and before you act. Victim-blamming is never okay and sexual assault is not a joke. 

I will leave you with this quote that moved me and really made me think:

"Since when is it more shameful to be raped than to be a rapist"

Until next time,

-Bee

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