This is so insidious, this double-think, of acknowledging discrimination whilst demanding that the victims of this discrimination take responsibility for stopping it, and it shows up in all sorts of ways. Almost the worst thing about it is the way it presents itself, as a sort of double victimisation, as in “Yes, you are being discriminated against, but it’s all your fault for allowing it, you know” whilst remaining, on the surface, entirely reasonable, so that the feeling of not doing as well as the men is internalised by women and turned into a suspicion that they, because they are female, are somehow not as good.
I’ve mentioned instances of this victim-blaming on many previous occasions during this series of posts, but let’s have a look again at some of them.
Rape. The classic victim-blaming scenario, in which the person who is assaulted is blamed for somehow “getting themselves raped”, by going to bars, wearing “inappropriate” clothing, behaving in “inappropriate” ways, drinking, and so forth. If you have any doubt whether this double standard is alive and extremely well, then have a look at the coverage of the Stanford rape case, and particularly the statement of the woman who was attacked. According to the perpetrator, the problem isn’t rape, it’s drinking and “promiscuity”.
As you will doubtless be well aware, rape isn’t caused by drinking and promiscuity, it’s caused by rapists. And yet still, every Christmas, some police force somewhere brings out a poster campaign urging women to take good care during the festive season to avoid being raped. If this doesn’t strike you as laughably inappropriate, may I urge you to consider how we would respond to a Christmas drink-driving campaign which concentrated on advising the victims of drink driving on how to avoid being knocked down by a drunk driver, rather than on telling drivers not to drink.
For a further take on this subject, have a look at this advice for men on how not to commit rape, which admittedly is a spoof written by the wonderful Sarah Silverman, but is based on real advice for women on how not to get raped. The Buddy System? Really? In this day and age, are we are seriously saying that women still need a chaperone?