The Shame of Victim Blame

***TRIGGER WARNING***

As many of you may recall, last year a surge of activism against sexual assault in India came to light after a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi. The student, frequently referred to as “Nirbhaya” (meaning “fearless” in Hindi) died of her injuries. Protests in Delhi made way for stricter punishment for sex crimes.

In a recent meeting, Asha Mirje, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader in western Maharashtra state, answered questions about why the rape occurred. Mirje made startling comments like:

“Did Nirbhaya really have go to watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend?”  

and 

“Rapes take place also because of a woman’s clothes, her behavior and her presence at inappropriate places.”

Mirje further went on to warn women about being cautious of enticing assault onto themselves. 

Let’s go ahead and cut the bullshit right now. First, the question “why does rape happen?” should have never been asked, to a politician no less. Rape occurs because of rapists. While that’s pretty straightforward, the complexities of it are too much for Mirje. The questions should have been

“What are the next steps to taking on India’s high rate of sex crimes?”

“How are police revising investigation procedures to better accommodate survivors?”

“Will there be consequences placed on those who obstruct investigations, such as the common dismissal of cases attributed to ‘fabricated events’?”

“What other legislation is in the works to help combat against sexual assault?”

Second, victim blaming is part of the problem. In rape culture around the world, survivors of assault are constantly scrutinized as if to find the cause for rape. Frequent comments are:

Well, maybe she was wearing something provocative.

She’s a tease.

If you’re going to drink that much, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get what’s coming.

She just has buyer’s regret.

He’s a sexual deviant, he probably liked it.

They’ve always been a slut.

 

She’s from the ghetto anyway, who cares?

Why would you walk alone at night, are you stupid?

She can’t just start and expect him to stop right in the middle!

You could have taken better precautions.

If you don’t see what’s wrong with these statements, you’ve probably made them before, about yourself or someone else.

It’s almost the same mentality of Nazi extremists who believed Jews brought the Holocaust onto themselves  (and by mentality, I mean severe, inexcusable stupidity).

Rapists are the ones that cause rape. Here’s a pie chart if you don’t quite get it. 

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I honestly don’t understand why there’s so much blame put onto survivors. Before coming to college, I was frequently told to never walk alone at night, keep my pepper spray on hand, go to parties in groups, never accept a drink from someone, and the proverbial phrase “keep your wits about you.” Let me just say, that if I, like so many other women in this world, am taught how to be precautious about rape (despite all of these “precautions” not being even close to 100% effective), men should in turn be taught not to rape. It’s only fair.

Here’s another post for you. 

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XOXO,

Martyr Mouth

DISCLAIMER: Please know that victim blaming happens in all cultures, societies, and countries around the world to every gender, sexual orientation, sex, race, religion, ethnicity, class, ability, and every other demographic you can think of. Men are victims of rape and there’s a startling amount of violence against trans-women of color. I wrote this with the intention of addressing the perverse amount of sexual violence against women, though anyone can be a survivor of rape. Second, I am not against safety measures people take. If you feel comfortable taking a self-defense class, buying a stun-gun, or keeping a buddy system with friends, this is perfectly fine and I strongly encourage it. I just want you to know that even if these precautions fail, no one is at fault except the assaulter. Third, while men are not the only ones who rape, the staggering amount of male offenders in sex crimes needs to be addressed. 

 

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Not Your Mother’s Roe v. Wade

Upon dicing through the typical newsposts online, I came across this interesting article about Roe v. Wade opinions. In case the media hasn’t bombarded you with a reminder, today is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And for those of you who live under a rock, Roe v. Wade was the case that made abortion legal in the United States. The article stated that opinions on abortion haven’t changed since 1975, despite the media and Congress’s constant coverage of the topic. According to a Gallup poll, only 1% of Americans believe abortion is our number one problem. About 54% of Americans (a consistent percentage that has stayed true since 1975) believe abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, but the article went on about our moral debacle with the issue. While many believe abortion should be a choice for women who are victims of rape or whose lives are in jeopardy during pregnancy, the tables turn when the subject becomes a “careless woman” or one who’s void of parental responsibility. Not to mention most still consider it murder, but would rather not talk about the issue in detail. Let me go ahead and say that as a pro-choicer, feminist, and a cisgender woman, I believe abortion should be legalized and thank the corrupt justice system for being able to crank out a law that allows women to make decisions about their own bodies. I’ll be brave and speak for a majority of us when I say that abortion, in general, remains a difficult topic. But I can tell you, there is no comparison to the plight of the legal justifications compared to the harboring decision a woman has to face when confronted with an unwanted pregnancy. I’ll borrow some words from Frederica Mathewes-Green: “A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche, but rather like an animal caught in a trap who gnaws off its own leg.” Last summer, a friend and I watched in horror on my laptop as Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ eleven hour filibuster against extreme, unnecessary closings of several abortion clinics in the state failed. Restrictions on abortion have been stacking up this past year, in fact, marking a record on abortion restrictions with twenty-two states passing over seventy different laws. So despite the warped perception we’ve held on the public’s opinion on abortion, our government has spent more time than ever in history slapping red tape on a law that has been legal for 41 years. I can’t say we’re headed in the right direction.

Yours truly,

Martyr Mouth

Combating the flu and catching up on Shameless

So Thursday night at around 10:40 p.m. I felt like I had gotten slammed by the sick train. My head throbbed and gave off enormous heat, my body felt chilled to the bone to the point that my teeth chattered, and every muscle in my body felt worn out. The next day, after battling a fever all night long, I walked to my school’s health center to get an appointment at the walk-in clinic. They made me wear a surgical mask because of the symptoms I had, which was downright embarrassing because every person who saw me would act like I had Ebola. Turns out I had caught the flu, or a flu like illness, and they sent me home with a bunch of ibuprofen, Mucinex, and some sinus relief pills. When I got back to the dorm, my amazing roommate hitched a ride to Target to fetch me some Sprite Zero, blue Powerade, and saltines. Basically, my entire three day weekend has been devoted to sleeping, trying to stomach food, scarfing down pills, and watching one of my favorite tv shows, Shameless. For those of you unfamiliar with Shameless, it revolves around a family of six children living chaotically on the southside of Chicago. The oldest child, Fiona, parents the children in place of their alcoholic/addict father and bipolar, frequently absent mother. Not one episode is boring, cliche, or even what I like to call “plot filler” because every moment of their lives is struggling to keep moving forward. I highly recommend it to anyone who thinks their family can stir up a little drama. Anyway, I’ve got a couple more episodes to catch up on.

See you on the flipside!

Martyr Mouth

P.S. I also caught a job at my university’s newspaper and will be working there after I attend an orientation in the next couple of days. 

Feminine Hygiene Ads: Are they even different from back when?

So yesterday I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a recent post on the BitchMedia page for an article about vintage feminine hygiene ads from the 1930s through the 1950s.  A woman by the name of Cynthia Petrovic has established the hobby of collecting the most sexist vintage ads she can find. She’s established a blog, Do I Offend? that features ads about body odor to fat shaming. I particularly noticed the Lysol ads and other “feminine hygiene” ads that basically said “The reason your marriage is failing is because your coochie smells”. Now, I know what the go to thought is here: it’s in the past, during a racist, homophobic, misogynist part of our history where women were basically indentured slaves in their homes. But my question is, has the blatant sexism of “feminine hygiene” products really changed all that much? The answer is no, and the reason I keep putting “feminine hygiene” in quotations is because I simply don’t believe in it. Yes, I am completely aware that women and others with vulvas use things like pads, tampons, and diva cups for their menstrual cycles, and that’s all fine and dandy. When I say “feminine hygiene”, I’m referring to the products targeted to us vulva-possessing-folk on the selling point that we stink and our bodies are naturally disgusting. There is no benefit from douching, vaginal soaps, or anything else that advertises “a fresh, clean feeling”. Even the  words “feminine hygiene” piss me off. Why isn’t there “male hygiene”? I’m sure certain people with penises in the world would benefit from a good ball sweat wipe. But no, the reason those with vulvas are treated in such a manner is because our sexist society wants us to shame our bodies. You are made to feel inherently dirty because of a natural process. Anyone with a vulva can ask their gynecologist the best way to clean their genitals and they suggest running water between your folds or using a scentless, mild soap. The vulva itself produces a natural smell due to pheromones, not because you don’t bathe often enough. And if it starts to itch, create different discharge, or there is a pungent smell, you should turn to your gyno, because it’s probably a minor infection that can easily be treated by antibiotics. So let me draw back to my main point–has “feminine hygiene” changed that much? On the left is a striking vintage ad promoting Lysol douches for a woman who only regains her husband’s love after she’s used the product. On the right is a recent ad from Summer’s Eve giving a list of how to get a raise in the workforce and placed at the top of that list is “showering with Summer’s Eve Feminine Wash”. Because everyone knows, you can’t hold a decent job if you have yucky vagina smells. I’ll let you determine if we’ve really made a difference over the years.

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Love,

Martyr Mouth

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