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The Issue of Normalization of Victim Blaming in Our Society

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Women. We’re taught to not walk alone when it’s dark instead of men being taught to not prey on lone women. We are taught to cover our skin more and pull our skirts down as the slightest nudity simply could make a man too ravenous, he won’t be able to resist us. According to 40 percent of Belgians, sex without permission can be justified in some situations. Outright disturbing numbers. Moreover, these days a perpetrator of a rape can be given suspension of punishment, because the facts have taken place within a context in which sexual assault can occur. In these cases condescending yet common questions such as “What was she wearing?” are proposed by the public. They are the living proof that society makes the assumption that women who become visibly intoxicated, dress provocatively, build up tension or allow themselves to be misguided by men are the ones at fault. Absolutely ridiculous. 

Rape has nothing to do with a victim’s manner of dress or behavior. Shifting the blame to the victim appears to be deeply rooted in our society. Rape is a traumatic experience and painful enough, finding the courage to talk about it to then receive responses like this, holding the victim responsible for the event are just as bad, if not worse. It breaks a person’s self-image because she feels stupid and especially stands in the way of good processing. And most of all it will leave the victim mentally damaged for eternity! NO, I do not accept this victim blaming. I do not accept that victims are sacrificed by the outside world – by men or by women. Sex without permission is violence. Sex without permission is rape. It is brutal, manipulative and vicious. Thus we women are not the ones that should feel responsible because we were drunk or dressed provocatively or not yelling loud enough. We could literally be standing in a man’s room in lingerie, drunk, and still say no. Just because of our state of mind or what is on our body doesn’t give ANYBODY the right to do what they want with it. And the only thing I wanna ask society is: “Why isn’t there a bit more sympathy for the woman who was violated, who will eternally carry the bruises and the unwarranted fingerprints? How dare you normalize victim blaming? How dare you make it a culture?” 

We cannot normalize the fact we live in a rape-prone society or else making change will never be possible. Society should know by now that this is a crime driven by a blatant act of objectification and sexualization, not by the way we’re dressed. This expectation of modesty has been placed on women for way too long and has solely been used against them to minimize, rationalize and excuse horrific acts of violence. However, the problem with suppressing the way women dress in an effort to control the predatory responses is that clothing itself is not the problem. The level of modesty we are perceived to have in clothing choices is totally irrelevant. If we, as a society, are serious about the requirement of equality and freedom of men and women, then our indignation about this victim blaming must be equal and even bigger. We have to go the other way. 

When we talk about the fundamental values of our society, we should not let any veil of mist hang over them. This is the right time to stop our culture that is saturated with victim blaming. Abolish it. Destroy it. End it because a little dress does not represent “yes”, because the amount of skin the victim reveals shouldn’t be a critical factor associated with rape. End it because we should not be accused of being attention-seeking or even deserving of the assault. End it because a woman’s body doesn’t exist to please anyone, to dress for or cater to what society wants them to be. End it because rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time under any circumstances. End it because this illusion of safety created by victim blaming only creates a more dangerous society in which predators are rarely held accountable and victims are fearful of speaking out. End it because sexual violence and sexism are not dormant problems or small by-products of our society. They are alive and kicking. 

Therefore no chance should be missed to despise them aloud. Only that way we clearly mark the outlines of an open society: one where men and women are equal, one where everyone is boss over their own body. Dear society: Women do not get raped because they were drinking or dressed too sexy. Women do not get raped because they weren’t cautious enough. Women get raped because someone raped them. Rape happens because rapists rape, period.

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