Victim Blaming… or Just Sound Advice?

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Victim Blaming

Last week I ranted about how I found myself screaming at my phone while listening to a podcast. The whole incident reminded me of a time a few years ago when I found myself yelling at the radio while driving along in my car listening to a discussion about victim blaming.

Ah, how I miss those days. Nowadays I work from home. I’m rarely ever in a car. When I’m in a car, I’m always with someone else, so I’m never just listening to a random talk radio show. They were fun. I got to hear varied perspectives. I had minimal control over the topics I listened to, which is good for my brain. I like the randomness. I like not knowing what’s coming.

And I enjoy talking about topics I could never have imagined talking about. I mean, I once listened to scores of people call in to speak about their irrational fear of clowns. It was so entertaining.

And I miss it.

The Radio and the Boiling Blood

Victim Blaming

But one time their inane commentary made my blood boil. And I uncharacteristically found myself banging the ceiling of my car wondering how people could be this naive and prone to making mistakes that could really hurt someone.

So what happened?

A major politician was speaking about his daughter in an interview. She had recently gone off to college, and he had some concerns about the experience she was about to have.

He had said that he would caution his daughter to be careful when going to a fraternity party or things like that. Especially one with copious amounts of alcohol being consumed. Men have a strong proclivity toward doing things that might be considered evil, alcohol heavily impairs judgment and the ability to make careful and thoughtful decisions, and he didn’t want his daughter making a foolish error and finding herself in a situation in which one night caused her a lifetime of regret.

Or God forbid, something far worse happened than a simple mistake.

An accusation of Victim Blaming

Victim Blaming

The folk on the radio mocked the politician’s words as being obviously wrong. And they accused him of victim blaming. And I found myself, alone in my car, yelling at the radio in frustration.

The world is a mighty complicated place. And more than one reality can be true at the same time. What if a young girl goes to a fraternity party and gets so drunk she can barely stand up, and wakes up the next morning realizing she’d been violated by one or even several men at the party? Whose fault was that?

There is a very clear answer: If there is non-consensual intercourse with another person, this is rape. It is illegal, immoral, and disgusting, and those who committed the act should be found and punished severely for their actions.

And the girl deserves immense sympathy for what happened to her. She’s going to need family and friends, lots of love, and probably a hefty amount of therapy.

Responsible Decisions

But that doesn’t change the fact that she could have made more responsible decisions. She chose to go to the party. She chose to plow her system with alcohol. And she chose to be in a setting not surrounded by people she knew and trusted. Absent of any one of those choices, her day would have likely taken a very different path.

And if I were her friend, mentor, or parent, and I knew she might be in that situation and I didn’t at the very minimum warn her what could happen, I’d carry that guilt around with me for the rest of my life.

My Attack. My Fault?

Victim Blaming

When I was younger, I was attacked by a group of six people. What happened to me was a crime, and it was 100% the fault of those who committed that crime.

It’s been nearly thirty years, and I still fully and completely understand that despite their wrongdoing, I could have made better decisions. I should not have been there that day. I should not have lied to my parents about my whereabouts. I should not have been a 15-year old child filling my body with can after can of crappy beer.

And if I had made more intelligent, responsible decisions that day, I would not have suffered that physical and emotional trauma. And I would not still stare at the scar on my palm that reminds me constantly of what happened that day.

So am I responsible for what happened to me? You can definitely say I share in the collective pool of the elements that came together to make that moment happen. I made a stupid mistake, and suffered as a result of that mistake.

Victim Blaming or Shared Responsibility?

The modern mind points out that I was a victim, and if I share any blame, even the smallest little bit, thus this is in effect “victim blaming”. But that phrase is just another string of words that are supposed to end a conversation without the parties actually considering what has been said.

It’s like when someone says “that’s racist”, and we’re all supposed to just stop talking immediately. Once the R-word was been tossed into the discussion, there’s nothing more to discuss. The one being accused of racism should hang his head in shame and cease and desist immediately from any further words, since they have been thoroughly defeated once their true inner racist tendencies have been revealed.

It’s anti-intellectual. And it’s a lazy way to look at the world.

Victim Blaming… or Sound Advice?

Victim Blaming

Sounds advice is sound advice, regardless of the implications it might mean toward the imagined future responsibility for the advice someone didn’t heed.

If this politician’s daughter ignores her father and something, God forbid, happens to her, that is tragic. Those who harm her are criminals. And she is 100% a victim.

But that never stopped the advice from being good. They were words that could have saved her massive pain and trauma.

And it’s his duty as a father to do whatever is in his power to keep his children safe, regardless of what some dope on the radio thinks of his efforts.

And if he didn’t because he feared some idiot accusing him of victim blaming, well now he and said idiot share some of the blame if something happens as well.

Sounds advice is sound advice, regardless of the implications it might mean toward the imagined future responsibility for the advice someone didn't heed. Click To Tweet


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Victim Blaming… or Just Sound Advice?

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