Rape-blaming: You probably won’t like what I have to say

If you missed the Stuebenville rape, a 16 year old girl got so drunk that she essentially blacked out and was raped by two high school football players, who also took pictures/videos of their vile act(s) and disseminated them via social media outlets.  Serena Williams was quoted by the rollings Stones (which I am quoting from http://www.celebuzz.com/2013-06-18/im-not-blaming-the-girl-but-serena-williams-weighs-in-on-the-steubenville-rape-case/  ) as saying 

“We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV — two high school football players raped a 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you — don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

Today I had the privilege of being educated about Sexual Assault Prevention and Response for the Navy and Marine Corps; essentially, the effect of sexually-based crimes on victims, units and the service itself.  The problem I saw with the training, which is the same problem I see about all the criticism of Serena, is that nobody is telling the victim how to avoid being a victim.  Notice I said avoid; it can still happen, and in no way did I assign blame to the victim.  I’ll provide two analogies:

If you’re a Marine in Afghanistan and in a firefight decide to stand up while rounds are coming up range and going down range, you increase the likelihood that you will be killed.  You didn’t pull the trigger that fired the round that ultimately killed you, but you stood up and made yourself an easier target for an enemy rifleman.  Conversely, when you get so intoxicated, voluntarily or ignorantly (by accepting a drink from someone else, a drink that could be drugged), you have increased the likelihood that you will be victimized.  You could still get killed in a firefight even if you keep your head down and do everything right; you could still be raped even if you stayed sober, was never alone with any person, and made frequent use of communication devices to confirm your status.  

Targeting for predators is a complex process; even if it is a subconscious process, they will select a target that will allow them to achieve their goal.   A target with a group of friends, not drinking alcohol, refusing drinks handed to them or not consuming liquid at all will make a harder target to attack.  

Analogy 2: you can drive your car as safely as you want, but a person who is careless or with malice cause a vehicular collision; either their car with your car, your car with someone else’s, or you car with other objects and terrain.  If you encounter a driver with road rage the safest thing to do is call the police and follow their instructions; if you engage the driver in your own version of road rage, you’re making yourself vulnerable to injury or death over your own sense of pride.

So in summary: certain things you do, or fail to do, will increase your odds of being victimized by a man, woman, or group of people.  This may not have anything to do with sex at all; could be identity theft, asset theft, or general mischief.  This doesn’t make you at fault for their criminal acts.  The Marine Corps has learned since 1775 that if you stand in the open in front of your enemy while he’s shooting at you, you’re going to get shot, and it has subsequently evolved the style of warfare it practices in accordance with the missions it is tasked with accomplishing.  If you want to go drinking, go with trusted friends, have a security plan, have contingency plans, and have a limit.  If you don’t feel right, call an ambulance.  

You cannot carelessly blow through life thinking that everything is everybody else’s fault and that everybody else MUST take responsibility for themselves so that you can get black-out drunk; YOU need to watch out for YOU.