THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Men are called out in the media when they shame the victims of sexual assault. Women do not seem to be called out as often, but do actively participate in victim blaming.
There seems to be a new sexual assault charge reported daily in Hollywood. In the past, I focused on voicing support for the victims and calling out victim blamers on social media. There is always a Tom, Dick or Harry commenting on the victims' roles in their assaults. But with Harvey Weinstein, I was completely surprised by Donna Karan's comments. Victim blamers are men, aren't they? Why had I not noticed women were victim blaming as well?
My wake up call was Donna Karan. She was questioned at an event about the Weinstein allegations, and I assumed her response would be supportive of women who came forward. Ms. Karan had my full attention when she answered, "You look at everything all over the world today ... and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble."
Wait, what? Did she just blame the victims? A backlash ensued and Ms. Karan appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to apologize. Ms. Karan’s publicist should have advised her not to smile while apologizing.
Victim blaming is gender blind. Fortune.com quotes Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas): "It’s up to 'the female' to ensure she's not sending the wrong message," and "...women ... deserve equal blame for such abuse." Facebook had posted stories regarding the Kevin Spacey allegations. I began skimming the 500-plus comments to see how people were responding to the news. They asked questions such as, Was Rapp drunk? Where were his parents? Why was Rapp at an adult party? These questions were asked by women and men.
And this is not exclusive to the United States. In January 2017, BBC.com presented the results of the Sounds Familiar report by the Fawcett Society. The report was a new analysis of a 2015 poll: 8,000 people were asked if a woman was partially or completely to blame for a sexual assault if they were drunk and wearing provocative clothing, specifically short skirts. Two age groups were surveyed; men and women 18-34 years of age, men and women ages 65 and older. I learned that I had indeed not been paying attention to victim blaming by females. In the 18-34 age group, men blamed women 41 percent of the time; women blamed women 30 percent of the time. In the 65 and over age group, men blamed women 40 percent of the time; women blamed women 55 percent of the time — 15 points higher than men.
Women have been fighting victim blaming by men for decades. Clearly, it's time we address victim blaming by women. We cannot assume, like I did, that women are immune to participation in this antiquated response. Women must be diligent in confronting other women about their misperceptions of responsibility when women and men are sexually assaulted. It is hypocritical to call out only men when there are women guilty of the same.
Donna Karan weighed in on the Harvey Weinstein scandal on Sunday, insinuating that the victims were asking for it. She has...