Victim shaming: What’s up with that?



Recently, I’ve been interested in writing about the silly things I read on the internet. Lately, I noticed a trend of people writing blog posts or comments within articles that make it clear they blame victims of bullying or rape. Normally, I ignore the stupid that is The Internet. *But today, I decided, “What the hell, let’s expose the stupid!”

[*DISCLAIMER: My blog post is in no way stating that the First Amendment should limit hateful comments. I noticed a blog post in response to my post What’s with all the hate, and there was the misunderstanding that I claimed people shouldn’t be allowed to say what they want. Trust me, that’s not what I’m saying. If you want to stupid, go ahead and stupid. Just know that your stupid may or may not be blogged about.]

There are two specific examples of stupid that I want to focus on. Here is the first:

1. A blogger posted about model Hannah Davis’ scandalous Sports Illustrated magazine cover. She’s in a bikini, and posing provocatively, like all the models of the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated do.

What conclusions does this blogger draw from a woman posing in a bikini for a swimsuit edition of a magazine? Not something I would have thought of:

“I might also point out that this is part of the reason girls get date-raped.  I know some feminists don’t want to hear this, but it’s unavoidable.  Our culture is constantly sending men the message that women/girls want sex all the time, getting men all charged up.  So, then when men try to give women/girls what they seem to want, what happens?  It gets reported as rape because it turns out they didn’t really want it all along.  That’s really confusing (and very unfortunate for everyone involved).  Whores and their greedy, corporate pimps are ruining it for the rest of us.”

All I can say is that this blogger is so very, very confused about rape, consent, and women in general. Let’s enlighten the poor guy. I’ll respond to his quote line-by-line:

“I might also point out that this is part of the reason girls get date-raped.”

No. Just no. A woman posing on the cover of a magazine has nothing to do with women all over the world being raped. Absolutely nada. You don’t hear men claiming that Abercrombie models are responsible for men having tons of sex, do you?

“I know some feminists don’t want to hear this, but it’s unavoidable.”

Actually, no one wants to hear this, because it’s incorrect. Next.

“Our culture is constantly sending men the message that women/girls want sex all the time, getting men all charged up.”

The fact that women have sex or want to gets men horny? Whatever you say. Our culture also sends the message that men want sex all the time (more so than women), but it doesn’t get women “all charged up.” Whatever that means.

“So, then when men try to give women/girls what they seem to want, what happens?”

That depends. If you’re raping some girl on the street because you think she wants it, you better be penalized (I was about to say your ass better be in prison, but when I thought about it, I realized that you don’t often hear about rapists being imprisoned. Why? Because 97% of rapists receive no punishment. Yet another reason why I need feminism.). So when you ask, “What happens?,” unfortunately, if you rape a woman, not much may actually happen to you.

But the blogger seems to believe otherwise:

“It gets reported as rape because it turns out they didn’t really want it all along.”

WHAT?!? Would you honestly be in shock if you raped a woman and she, in fact, reported that rape? This guy seriously needs to read this post about consent and educate himself. It’s really not that complicated to figure out if someone wants sex or not. But he makes it clear that he’s uneducated in Consent 101:

“That’s really confusing (and very unfortunate for everyone involved).”

Confusing to figure out if you’re about to have consensual sex? No, not confusing at all. Confusing that you were accused of rape when you raped someone? Nope, not confusing. Unfortunate? For the woman who was raped, hell yeah that’s unfortunate. But unfortunate to the man who raped her? He’d be getting what he deserved. Then, onto the wonderful conclusion:

“Whores and their greedy, corporate pimps are ruining it for the rest of us.”

Wait a minute. What do “whores” and their “greedy, corporate pimps” have anything to do with you figuring out what is rape and what is consensual sex? Nothing. It makes absolutely no sense to blame a woman posing on the cover of a magazine for men raping women. The two do not correlate at all.

It sounds to me like the author is just horny and that maybe he feels guilty for that? I can’t think of why else he would blame a girl on a magazine for rape. I can’t figure out why he would claim that men should be able to thrust themselves aggressively onto women, even when it’s unwanted. My assumption is that he clearly doesn’t understand what consent is.

Now, onto the second stupid Internet situation:

2. While perusing iFunny (an app with usually humorous pictures), I saw a photo saying that in order for cyber bullying to stop, the victims just have to shut down their computers. While it obviously isn’t just that simple to erase cyber bullying, I wasn’t offended by the picture itself. But I saw a comment (yes, I know, the dreaded comments section) that was quite heavy on the stupid:

“So funny these idiots say shit like ‘punish the bully’s, not the victims’ GUESS WHAT!!! Bullying in ALL forms exists ONLY because victims exist..How the hell you gonna force teach a bully not to be a bully. Easier to teach a victim not to be a victim and bully’s will CEASE to exist. GUARANTEED [sic].”

For real? Okay, Mr. Smartypants, how are we going to teach victims not to be victims? The fault in his thinking is that he’s assuming that victims are choosing to be victims, which is flat-out wrong. No one wants to be bullied, just like no one wants to be raped. Furthermore, just because people are taking precautions doesn’t mean that bullies and rapists are going to “knock it off.” They’ll just keep assaulting them, and then find other victims. Shaming the victims will only magnify the issues.

The problem with both of these writings I saw is that they both shame rape victims and victims of bullying. Both of these people are saying either, “Women are whores who want sex and rape is confusing!” or “Just teach victims to stop it!” In both cases, they are excusing the actual perpetrators, and completely blaming the ones who have been physically, emotionally, and mentally damaged. Like these victims need anymore shit in their lives.

While the phrase “Live and let live” is a blissful idea to live by so that we can ignore the negativity in the world, it can be difficult to do that when these ideas travel from the internet to the government. There are politicians who have voiced their completely idiotic opinions on rape, and it’s horrifying that these people are actually in positions of power. For example:



Seriously. He seriously said that. Oh God help us.

Sure, we can live and let live, but that’s not going to erase stupidity, or even hate. I’d rather voice my concerns with society than ignore them and pretend that the problems don’t exist. What’s the harm in speaking out?

79 thoughts on “Victim shaming: What’s up with that?

  1. Oh gosh I loved this. When I see ‘stupid’ I usually loose interest half way through my frustrated thoughts. Somethings are just beyond me. So I enjoyed reading that you actually followed through :-). Good points raised as well – I would like to make note that I have heard all of them before, which shows me that what you are saying is actually just common sense. Interesting then that the people who write the quotes labelled stupid in the first place do not see that.
    I like to hope that people say things like ‘she asked for it’ or ‘stop dressing your child that way and they wont get teased’ just say it because they don’t know what to say – surely people can’t actually believe this stuff that come out of their mouths?

    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. A lot of the stupidity on the internet baffles me, too. I can’t fathom the things that people think sometimes. I sure hope that people say those things because they are just misguided and don’t really understand how rape and bullying culture continues to happen in a society.

  2. I’m as disturbed with the victim-shaming. I was writing this post about Artemisia, a talented Italian painter from 4 centuries ago who was raped, and how rape trials were done in her time. They had to “inspect” her during the court trial for evidence. The burden of proof lies with the victim. And somehow there’s still a trace of that now. The focus is still on the victim, not on the perpetrator. The gut reaction is usually, did she provoke the rape, did she imply consent, etc? I don’t understand how violence can ever be justified. Another equally disturbing trend is the gender-based online harassment, recent one was with Ashley Judd’s case, which I also wrote about in the same post. There’s still so much to be done in terms of proper education on this topic, esp rape. It’s encouraging whenever I read blog posts like this one, because there needs to be more awareness on the topic.

    • I’ll have to read your post on that topic. It’s disturbing to me as well that these misunderstandings about rape and bullying still exist in this world. You’re right that the questions are always about the victim. “Where was she?” “How late was it?” “Was she alone?” “What was she wearing?” “Did she say ‘no’?” The answers to these questions shouldn’t even matter, let alone be asked, because they all blame the victim. I completely agree that there needs to be more education on these issues. Instead of society telling women what not to do, men should be also taught what they shouldn’t do.

      I’m glad you feel that reading my blog post is encouraging. I believe that voicing my thoughts will hopefully help in having a dialogue about the things that need to change in our society.

  3. My opinion, Rebecca: Some people never make the distinction between wanting sex in general and wanting to make love with one particular person. They argue as if it’s the same thing. Dopes.

  4. Absolutely no harm in speaking out. There is a difference between addressing issues and sewing negativity. “If you want to stupid, go ahead and stupid. Just know that your stupid may or may not be blogged about.]” is one of the funniest lines I have read, anywhere. I get really offended at men who can’t control their hormones speaking for me. I’ve evolved a reasoning brain, thank you. I have the power to override my biological urges. Does looking at partially clothed women sometimes cause a biological response? Sure. Can we keep it in our pants unless asked for? We better.

  5. I enjoyed reading this post, and I especially liked how you blended your thoughts together on bullying and rape issues. Additionally, the comment you quoted about rape is quite disheartening. Consent does not have anything to do with attire.

    And I agree that the Internet is filled with silly and stupid. I know in your disclaimer that you said you’re not for limiting speech. However, do you think that there might be areas where speech should not be protected with regards to these victim shaming issues?

    • Thank you, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed my post. I completely agree that the quote I used for this post is disheartening. The author’s misconceptions about rape were quite disturbing to me. He seemed to think there a link between a woman’s clothing and rape. There is no link whatsoever. It’s just used as a way to blame the women who were raped and take the blame away from the men who did it.

      That’s a good question. While I do think that a lot of these victim shaming issues can turn into hateful language, which can then turn into threatening hate speech or violence, I don’t know how the government would limit it. I’m glad that some states in America have put laws in place to make cyber bullying illegal. However, the internet is a place that’s so vast, it would be difficult for the government to control the horrible things people write online. It would cause a complicated situation and people would argue that their free speech was violated.

      For now, all we can do is voice our opinions and try to balance out the hate and stupid opinions of others and hope that it provides some insight for others.

  6. Becky, I can hear you pounding your head against the wall in frustration all the way here in Maine. You make excellent points, and I agree with you completely, but maybe the best thing for your sanity (and your forehead!) is to just ignore the idiots. I know that’s difficult with so many of them out there, but you just can’t let all the stupid get to you… Thankfully, internet stupidity is not yet contagious. 🙂

  7. *sigh* It is stupid, but– in my experience, these mixed messages about sex, sexuality, power and control (that is, bullying)… they remain. Too many persist in believing them, if only subconsciously. I wish it were not so. Why?

    1. Because I was sexually abused/bullied… by women, primarily, although men were responsible too
    2. I know from my own experience that it’s not so simple as “stand up for yourself”. I was bullied MERCILESSLY a lot… more so the guys when you take the sexual aspect out of it. I mean, honestly, boys bullied me more for not conforming to expected male gender stereotypes rather than how much sexual attention I was or was not getting.

    Bullying needs a GROUP effort, from what I can see– bystanders need to speak up, too. Of course it’s unfair to pile blame on the bullied.

    My last blog post was on bullying, actually. Coincidental, that.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you were bullied. I can’t imagine how painful that must have been.

      I completely agree that there needs to be a group effort to decrease bullying. When people say, “Stand up for yourself,” “Just ignore them,” or “Turn off your computer,” they are all ways of subtly blaming the victim and saying he or she is the one who should be changing he or her behavior, not the bully.

      You are absolutely right that bystanders need to speak up, too. In a lot of situations, it seems like there were witnesses who were too afraid to stand up for the person being bullied. If more people speak up and make an effort, hopefully the instances of bullying will decrease.

      I’ll have to go take a look at your post on bullying. That’s quite a coincidence!

  8. I’m from India…. and I guess this entire article, it’s just so relatable to daily life here, be it the 16 December, 2012 incident… or any incident across the globe for that matter. This is quite interesting for me, as “Victim Shaming” it’s something that happens around me everyday and HAS to be changed!

    • I completely agree that it has to change. It’s a dangerous trend that happens all over the world. Hopefully speaking out about it will make people realize that we need to stop blaming victims.

      • In fact, the first time I’d heard ’bout it, I was literally like, “Is this a joke”. And idk if you’ve seen that Documentary, India’s Daughter, in that the rapist is blaming the victim….. Just watch it, if you can sometime, it’s just disgusting to hear such people and even think that they share this world with us!

      • I’ve heard a lot about it, but I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll have to watch it. I agree that people who blame rape victims like that are disgusting. It’s so sad how much hate we still have in the world.

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  10. It won’t surprise you to hear that I agree totally with the premise of your post. Victim shaming and blaming really is unacceptable and in itself is bullying. I mean, seriously, why would any woman ask to be raped by invariably some ugly uncouth total stranger? The blog post on consent was extremely good, i’d have left a comment but I saw she’d got more than 700! I couldn’t have added anything extra, but it really summed it up so well, as did some of the comments. I’ve got a post part drafted on having sex when people are drunk, which looks at that supposedly grey area. Only grey to some people mind.

    • Thank you, I’m so glad you agree with this premise. I also believe that victim shaming or blaming is a form of bullying. It’s basically saying, “Get over it. We think it’s your fault. We want to make you feel worse than you already do about your trauma.” It’s horrific, unnecessary, and just plain stupid in my opinion.

      I’m so happy that the blog post on consent has gotten the readership that it did because I think it’s such an important read. It seems like even today, sadly, there are people out in the world who just don’t understand what consent is. They are uneducated, and it may not be their fault that they don’t have that education, but it’s important for them to learn.

      I can’t wait to read your upcoming blog post. It sounds like an interesting topic.

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