No Country For Women recently launched a digital campaign called ‘What If We Treated All Crimes Like We Treat Sexual Assault?’ that uses humour to illustrate the problematic responses to cases of sexual assault. This campaign illustrates the different arguments used to delegitimize instances of sexual assault and shift the blame onto the victims instead of the perpetrators. Each piece satirizes a different type of victim-blaming by depicting how ridiculous these rhetorics would sound if applied to any other crimes
Common Response #1: Infantilizing The Victim
A popular rhetoric that accompanies sexual assault is questioning why the victim didn’t take enough steps for “protection”. Our standard response is to question the victim’s right to exist rather than the perpetrator’s decision to commit violence. Each time we question why the victim was unaccompanied in such an unsafe world, we infantilize them. We say the crime committed upon them was a result of their own immature folly.
Common Response #2: Accusing The Victim Of Lying
Often, responses toward sexual assault accuse the victim of lying. The general mindset either glorifies sexual assault (implying it’s a “compliment”) or maintains that the victim is making it up to support a hidden personal agenda. Such rhetorics highlight our hesitation to accept the prevalence of sexual assault. They add unnecessary pain to individuals who have already dealt with trauma and deters other survivors from speaking out.
Common Response #3: Blaming The Victim For Not Expecting The Crime
Each time we insinuate that the victim could have done something more to “protect themselves”, we indirectly fault them for the crime. We accuse them of not constantly expecting to be violated. We imply that if they had done things differently, they would not have been assaulted.
Common Response #4 Hijacking Victimhood
Each time we direct the conversation away from the victim of the crime, we trivialize their experience. Statements such as “X aren’t all bad” or “Why don’t we ever talk about Y” redirect sympathy toward the perpetrator or other unrelated individuals, diminishing the significance of the victim’s experience.
Common Response #5 Defending National Pride
Recognizing social evils gets conflated with anti-nationalism far too often. When conversations about specific incidents of sexual assault are hijacked to address issues of national pride, the voice and experience of the victim is forcibly silenced. Additionally, just because a crime also occurs elsewhere does not diminish its importance or absolve us of the need to tackle it.