Trigger Warning for rape
In case you haven’t heard, on Wednesday, a woman was raped. This particular woman was 73. She was bird watching in New York’s Central Park at noon when the attack happened. Fortunately, the police have a suspect in custody, and I for one hope that this poor woman’s ordeal will be over soon.
This brings up an additional point, however. Whenever a rape case hits the public spotlight, people will invariably blame the victim. People will comment that perhaps if the victim didn’t wear such revealing clothing, she wouldn’t have gotten raped. If only the victim wasn’t in such a place, or wasn’t walking in a dark place at night, or always went out with a friend, then nothing would have happened. That if the victim did these things, they shouldn’t be surprised when they receive unwanted sexual attention, as if wearing a halter top or a miniskirt is an open invitation for rape.
But rape can happen anywhere, at any time. Rape doesn’t just happen to “sluts,” it can happen to anyone. And even a person who does everything “right” still can (and does) get raped. People get raped in their own homes. People get raped by strangers, and by people they know intimately. People get raped while wearing revealing clothing, and they get raped while wearing burkas. People get raped alone, and they get raped in groups. People get raped in dimly lit alleyways, and they get raped in Central Park at noon.
People get raped every day, and they get raped in all manner of circumstances. Victim blaming does not help victims, and further stigmatizes rape, making the process of convicting rapists that much more difficult. As an aside, I have to wonder what proponents of victim blaming would say in the case of that woman. Would they try to search for something she did wrong, or would they be forced to conclude that her rape was, in the end, “legitimate?”