This post isn't about why victim blaming is wrong. It's not about all the ways victim blaming undermines attempts at a just society. This post isn't about the usefulness of risk reduction/preventive education (rr/pe). This post is about the relationship between victim blaming and advocating risk reduction and preventive education (rr/pe),or-as I see it, lack thereof. I don't think advocating/being pro rr/pe is the same thing as victim blaming. I think they're worlds apart. This post is about those differences.
I admit that there is a lot of ignorance about rape. How rape and rr/pe is handled is changing and that's good. A new trend seems to be emerging. Some rr/pe literature defines risk reduction as the education about "how to be safe." The preventative education stuff is about consent and healthy attitudes about masculinity. This acknowledges that only rapists can prevent rape. Still, rr/pe will have to be taught side by side since men can be victims and women can be rapists. It also seems like preventative education (how not to rape) is on the rise.
Looking at table above the first thing I want to point out , half of the examples in red have zero statistical evidence to back them up. Risk reduction/preventive education has statistical significance to support the suggestions,whereas victim blaming hardly ever does.
I also want to point out that almost half are in th form of Should statements. In addition to being considered a cognitive distortion, Should statements are usually flung at other people when we feel frustrated, bitter and self righteous. It can make those whom we use them on understandably resentful.
"That guy shouldn't drive that way." " He shouldn't be so,self-centered." "You shouldn't smoke." This illustrates that victim blaming is an emotional knee-jerk reaction, unlike rr/pe. It's people getting frustrated and taking it out on the wrong party (the victim). When people use Should statements it's seldom because they want to be helpful. More often than not, they just want to vent their anger and frustration.
Another example of the difference, with respect to psychology, between victim blaming and advocating rr/pe is that victim blaming is often a kind of defense mechanism. Remember, it isn't only when talking about rape that people blame the victim. Being presented with news of gruesome things happening to people can make us uncomfortable. The idea that any one of us can become victims at anytime regardless of what we do is unsettling. So we tell ourselves that if we "just do the right things," we'll be safe and live happily ever after. Its called the Just-World fallacy. Unfortunately, in order to maintain this idea, we have to reject information that contradicts it. Which means, denying other peoples' victimhood (i.e victim blaming). Violence advocacy groups and members of law enforcement know the statistics. They hear the grizzly details. I don't think most of them could indulge in the Just-World fallacy if they wanted to. Yet, they still have web pages and publications dedicated to rr/pe. My guess-its because its about using every available strategy to combat a complex problem, not about makeing themselves feel better by dismissing other peoples hardship.
Another important distinction, rr/pe is NEVER geared towards minors, while victim blaming is regularly directed at minors. "S/he looked older than her/his age." "S/he didn't fight back/say 'no.'" All prevention suggestions about keeping children safe are directed at adults (parents/caregivers). Victim blaming ,however, is directed at minors just as often as adults.
Rr/pe is about the virtues of education. It's about being helpful. It's attacking an intricate problem from ALL sides.
Victim blaming is about indulging in petty defense mechanisms at other peoples expense. It's about shooting the messenger. It's about blinding oneself to the truth because its scary.
Also,timing matters. Mentioning rr/pe is only useful BEFORE someone is raped/sexually assaulted. Mentioning it after is a dick move.