Okay, so there’s a fuckton of shit surrounding things that Carrie Fletcher have supposedly said ‘victim blaming’, and I think it’s something I need to talk about. First of all, if there were someone that irresponsible, who would be pro-victim blaming, then they would NOT have the audience Carrie…
That analogy is BANG ON! Bravo!
I have a few problems with this.
1) How large someone’s audience is has nothing to do with their ability to be responsible or not victim blame. Given that so many of the abusers have/had large audiences, I feel it should be obvious that number of followers does not equal moral high ground.
2) Saying that people should learn to protect themselves and that responsibility is a two-way street, discussing this in terms of not putting yourselves into bad situations…that is victim blaming. That is what you are doing. “If s/he hadn’t been drunk,” “if s/he hadn’t worn that,” “if s/he hadn’t been alone at night,” are all victim blaming. Doing this says, “Well, it’s not your *fault*, but you didn’t *stop* it.” Which implies that you could have.
Yes, people should be educated about what sexual assault is, what rape is, what abuse is, what they can do when they find themselves in those situations. These are useful things to know. However, acting like people won’t be raped or assaulted simply by doing The Right Thing is so grossly incorrect I can’t really wrap my head around it. People can do everything “right” and still get hurt. To use your plane analogy: what if the oxygen mask fails? What if your life jacket doesn’t inflate? To use your car analogy: what if one of the drivers is drunk and runs onto the sidewalk?
On another note, knowing what you should do doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do it. When you’re safe, you can easily imagine yelling, or fighting, or running, or any number of things. But when it’s actually happening, all that can fly out of your head in a second. You’re so frightened you don’t remember what to do, you’re so stunned you can’t move, and if you know the person - well, it can be hard to imagine hurting them. It can be hard to accept that they’re actually doing the things they are.
Abusers, especially emotional abusers, make a habit of confusing their victims. In retrospect, or from the outside, their abuse can be very easy to see. From the front lines, not so much. Before you can react, you have to know what’s happening - and for many victims, you don’t know. Or you know, but you don’t want to admit it. You might love the person. You might fear them. You might have a sense of pride about it. “Oh, I would never get involved with someone who’d do something like that. I’m too smart. I know too much about it.”
Guess what? Shit happens. Horrible things happen to wonderful people. There is no one “type” of victim. There’s no cookie cutter profile. Acting as though there’s a step-by-step system for avoiding being a victim implies that only some people count - those that did exactly what society said would work, and then got hurt anyway. And that is simply not the case.
You’re right, it would be wonderful to live in a world where the people who are actually responsible for abuse - the abusers - would not do what they’re doing. That would be great. It would also be amazing to live in the world you suggest, where “taking responsibility,” as you put it, meant automatic safety.
Unfortunately, we live in neither world, and suggesting that we do is judgmental, unfair, and deeply damaging to victims. I guarantee you that they have thought of each and every thing they could have possibly done to protect themselves (even if they were not actually feasible), feel guilty already, and that all you’re doing is making someone already suffering from trauma feel worse.
You are victim blaming. You don’t want to admit it, because it’s not a nice thing to do, but that is what you’re doing.
A victim who’d rather you not.