I have seen a number of memes recently suggesting that when it comes to sexual violence, the victim is not to blame.
They are absolutely right. I could not agree more. But…
If I tell you not to walk down a dark alley in a bad part of town late at night wearing expensive jewellery, I am not suggesting that it’s your fault if you get robbed. I am simply advocating common sense.
If I tell you not to leave your house’s front door wide open when you go on a vacation, I am not suggesting that it’s your fault if your house is burglarized. I am simply advocating common sense.
Yes, it is sad that there are parts of town where you should not feel safe. Yes, it is sad that you cannot leave your front door wide open and trust strangers not to loot your home. And yes, it is especially sad that if you are attractive, dress accordingly, and find yourself in the wrong company, you are more likely to get sexually assaulted. You are absolutely right: These things simply should not happen in a civilized society.
But they do happen. And smart people make note of this fact and act accordingly. Not because the victim is to blame, but because smart people don’t like becoming victims in the first place. This does not mean taking the side of common criminals or sexual predators. It does not mean that this situation is normal or acceptable. And to reiterate, it does not mean that the victim is to blame.
It simply means not confusing the world in which we hope to live with the world in which we actually live. Yes, we should all do our part to ensure that the hoped-for world one day becomes reality. In the meantime, though, smart people plan their present-day actions according to their knowledge of the real, imperfect world of today. So… you are right, the victim is not to blame. But that’s no reason not to be smart.