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Work conversations (TW victim blaming)

Posted by writer14 , 27 March 2014 · 151 views

I work in politics, and today me and a couple of women in the office were discussing some women's rights legislation. There were three of us, me (an intern), my boss, and someone on my boss's level. We started talking about gun control in relation to femicide, and then somehow got into the topic of rape and sexual assault. 
The things my boss was saying have me really upset. She argued that some of the blame should be put on the victim in cases where drinking or skimpy clothing are involved. The old "meat in front of a dog" argument. I just couldn't believe what she was saying. At one point she even almost said "asking for it", but then held herself back, because consciously she knows that no one asks to be raped. I was so surprised and disappointed to hear this from someone that I look up to. 
It was a very uncomfortable situation for me. On one hand I wanted to speak out and be angry, like I felt. On the other hand this is my boss, so I need to be extra respectful. I think I managed to do okay (thinking about it, I would have regretted anything I could do, so I think what I went with is acceptable). I brought up a few arguments and (blegh) assured her that I understood what she was talking about/her point was valid. I don't believe that at all, but this is my boss. I don't know. I just hope that what I DID say doesn't infringe on our relationship. At the same time, I don't think I spoke out enough.
I brought up that women are not food. I brought up the question of "where do you draw the line then?". I brought up that this type of victim blaming (didn't call it that) takes away from the blame on the rapist and allows him to go free and rape again. 
To me it looked like she was trying to validate a point that has been beat into us since anyone can remember. She may have felt that it was wrong but it is hard to fight against the inertia of society. It is easier to blame the victim than the rapist. It makes us feel like "well, if I don't do xyz, it won't happen to me". It makes us feel safer. But the victim blaming argument is UNTRUE and it ironically makes us all less safe as a society, because blaming victims or encouraging them to internalize some blame helps rapists go free and rape again. (rape culture)
I thought about saying, but thank goodness didn't, my story. That I was assaulted when I was drunk and dressed slutty. That the guy went on to assault one of my friends, too. And how difficult it is for me to deal with that, to fight it, to keep telling myself that it wasn't my fault. To try to be rid of the enormous guilt that I feel every day.
People like her really hurt. 

I'm sorry you had to face this. It's hard, when people start talking about something that they don't fully understand. I like the point about women being lulled into a false sense of security if they think by behaving a certain way, they will be "safe". As well is the victim blame culture exacerbating the problem. All true. Sometimes we still live in a very anti-woman society. Like WE should be responsible for the decisions and actions of a male predator. It makes me angry and upset too.

I had a similar issue at Christmas. People on a works do with me started discussing a high profile case in the uk and were talking about people claiming CSA 20yrs later. How "it can't have been that bad or they would have come out sooner". So clearly ignorant of how a child doesn't recognise what is happening or splits off so they don't remember. I had to walk away because I could feel myself getting angry and I was not going to reveal my own experience to a bunch of drunken colleagues!!!

Take gentle care. Mand.

People really don't understand who their audience is. 1 in 3 women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime. That means that if you are talking with 3 or more women, chances are one of them has personal experience with the issue. The issue is not like genocide, where the odds of you triggering someone is low from the average population (although it is till good to be mindful and respectful). It is so hard when people are insensitive and ignorant. 


You take care as well. 

There are a lot of people that speak before thinking how it will affect their listeners. I am sorry that you had to endure this. You are also correct that the assault was not your fault.
We started talking about gun control in relation to femicide



Candu's heart rate takes a sudden jump. (long painful story about gun control. Canada, not USA. But we won't go there)


It is easier to blame the victim than the rapist.




Of course. Because if it is not the victim's fault then it could happen to anyone. And that makes the world unsafe. And nobody likes an unsafe world. Easier making it the victim's fault. 

Exactly. But ultimately, making it the victim's fault hurts everyone... and revictimizes the victim which is just horrible. 


I don't know if you've heard the latest US Supreme Court ruling, but I believe they ruled that people convicted of domestic violence can't have firearms. That is so important. 

I am short on words right now- but I did want you to know that I am sorry that you went through this.  Really this topic is a sensitive one and in my mind falls under the political umbrella of shit you just don't talk about at work.  Your boss needs to take responsibility for putting you in an awkward situation and not providing you with a safe work environment. 

June 2016

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