Society blames rape on the victims

L. Elyse Quattlebaum

I graduated from a Christian school that told me to cover my shoulders, collarbone and kneecaps so that I didn’t cause the young men in the school to think sexual thoughts. I was told that viewing a woman’s skin causes a chemical reaction in men similar to the use of drugs.

Blaming young men’s sexual objectification of women on the women themselves and how they present themselves is not only prevalent in Christian circles, but in American culture. This extends beyond clothing choices to women’s choices to consume alcohol.

In March of this year two Ohio high school football players were charged with the rape of a 16-year-old girl. Many negative reactions condemned the girl’s decision to drink, rather than the boys’ decisions to take advantage of her while she was unconscious.

CNN even focused its coverage on the loss the boys would face following the trial.

The reporter said how hard it was to watch “as these two young men—who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students-literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”

These reactions echo multiple ads that promote the idea that if women get drunk, they are to blame for being taken advantage of.

One ad released by the Pennsylvania Board of Liquor Control in 2012 features a woman’s legs on a bathroom floor with her underwear at her ankles. It reads, “02:19 a.m./ She didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say no./when your friends drink, they can end up making bad decisions. Like going home with someone they don’t know very well. Decisions like that leave them vulnerable to dangers like date rape. Help your friends stay in control and stay safe.”

While I will not argue against responsible drinking, the blame that this mindset places on women and their friends in rape cases is unwarranted. These efforts could be more appropriately focused, as shown in an ad that features a woman pushing away from a man while his friend tries to convince her to stay in the public restroom. This ad reads, “It’s not sex. . . . When she’s wasted/sex with someone unable to consent=sexual assault.”

On Missouri Southern’s campus, girls are expected to share the responsibility of avoiding rape.

Police Chief Ken Kennedy instructs a rape aggression defense class that will be offered for four consecutive Thursdays beginning on Sept. 12.

In this class women learn how to physically defend against attackers as well as how to avoid dangerous situations by not drinking, returning home with a friend and being aware of surroundings.

Perhaps in addition to teaching young women to defend against rapists, we should educate young men so that they do not take advantage of women, no matter what the circumstances are.