A new UK study shows that most people still blame rape victims at least some of the time — and women are even more likely to victim-blame than men. I offer my analysis on these findings in my first ever piece for the Guardian.
A new survey by the Havens service for rape victims shows that most respondents blamed rape victims for their assailants’ assaults at least some of the time. In particular, well over half said that victims should take responsibility if they climbed into bed with someone who went on to rape them. While the widespread notion that getting into bed with another person equals consent to any and all sexual activities is certainly worthy of discussion and dismantling, the headlines are focusing on a different matter altogether – that more women than men held victims responsible.
This news will likely come as a shock to most. Some will inevitably use it to claim that if women blame victims in such large numbers – even though women constitute the vast majority of victims – victim-blaming can’t be too off-base after all. Others will use it to hold women primarily culpable for societal attitudes regarding sexual violence, and in doing so shift the focus off men. As far as revelations go, this one is disappointing – but it shouldn’t be considered particularly surprising.