Victim blaming fail for anti-sexism news site
Posted on July 2, 2010
You may remember a couple of weeks ago I raised some concerns about this (now edited) piece, written by Phyllis Stephen, for the “daily online news and current affairs service aimed at women” Women’s Views on News.
“I would not like you to think that I have empathy or sympathy for the attacker in any way at all, but….
The 16 year-old girl was walking her dog along a path in Edinburgh which I use regularly as a cycle way. I would not actually be very comfortable cycling there on my own, nor would I do so at 10pm, when it is almost dark, even this far north. But this girl did. And she was attacked.
So what am I saying? I am merely making a tiny little suggestion that women should not put themselves in situations of danger. So an isolated path in the hours of near-darkness are not really the place for women of any age. And this is not actually a very dangerous city to live in. But it is common sense to protect yourself isn’t it?”
Wtf? I mean, where to even begin with this one.
Ok, first off I’ll admit to feeling a bit guilty about doing two posts in quick succession about Women’s Views on News, because let’s face it, it’s not the Daily Mail. In fact most of the time it’s a news site that I actually find really informative and useful. However, I suspect that’s part of the problem, in that it’s a site I go to regularly, and one which I’ve come to respect, especially when Alison Clarke is writing for it. So when pieces like this one go up it comes as a bit of shock – I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not what I’d expect to find on a news site written by women about women.
With that clarification out of the way then, let’s take a look at what Phyllis is saying here:
“I would not like you to think that I have empathy or sympathy for the attacker in any way at all, but….”
A big part of the problem is with that “but….” Phyllis may as well have ended the sentence “but I do”, because that’s the implication in the “….”
And then there’s this:
“I am merely making a tiny little suggestion that women should not put themselves in situations of danger”
Considering that the majority of rape victims are raped by men they know, partners, ex partners and so on, I’m curious as to how Phyllis would suggest we do that. Perhaps she thinks women should live separately from men or something, although I suspect not: she doesn’t really come across as a radical feminist separatist type.
“So an isolated path in the hours of near-darkness are not really the place for women of any age.”
No, indeed, women should all be curfewed and locked safely indoors during the hours of darkness, or even near-darkness, shouldn’t they Phyllis?
“But it is common sense to protect yourself isn’t it?”
Because if you don’t, you’ve only got yourself to blame…..
This is a classic case of victim blaming. Nowhere does Phyllis mention the rapist (apart from referring to him as the attacker who she doesn’t want us to think she has any sympathy for, but…) or his responsibility in perpetrating the rape. No, this is all about a silly young girl who put herself in danger by daring to go where no woman should in the hours of near-darkness. Phyllis even knows the area, and she wouldn’t go there at night. But this girl did, and look what happened to her.
Bet she’s learnt her lesson now though eh?
Well thanks for that contribution Phyllis, and WVoN. I’m sure rape victims up and down the country are wondering now why on earth they didn’t think of employing a bit of “common sense” before they went and got themselves raped.