A naked woman dancing in the street is not an invitation for sexual activity. While societal norms might frown on such activity, it is not an open invitation for men to “have their way” with her.
Whether such things happen is exclusively up to her.
But that is not the way much of America sees it.
She was asking for it. What did she expect? Look at how she’s dressed, she knew what she was doing.
The plague of sexual assault is one of the biggest threats to women in the world. In theory, we abhor rapists. Even within the insular walls of prisons, rapists must be protected from other inmates because of the inherent evil of their crimes.
But that is the tip of the iceberg. It is the wink and nod tolerance of “boys will be boys” in committing sexual assault in all its variations that places the onus and the burden on the victim for bringing it upon herself.
She shouldn’t have gone to that party. She shouldn’t dress that way. She shouldn’t have acted like she wanted it.
The double standard is appalling.
The normal progression of a child to puberty and the learning curve of acceptable behavior in controlling hormonal-driven feelings are complicated by this unequal expectation between males and females.
Sexual assault is the most underreported crime. We, as a society, place such burdens on victims they fear reporting the offense because of this. Can there be any more horrifying concept than a culture that blames the victim?
Much of this is cultural. There are still social practices throughout the world where women are nothing more than chattel, to be bargained with and traded by a male-dominated culture.
The vestiges of a father “giving away” his daughter at her wedding persist to this day. While we may view this as symbolic and harmless, it reflects a time when it was an absolute right of the family to determine who a woman marries.
A man was never given away, he was endowed with the right to “take” a bride.
When my then future son-in-law asked to speak with us about marrying my daughter, I appreciated the gesture. But I had about as much chance of telling my daughter who she could marry as I have of winning Powerball.
And that is how we raised her. She is not my property to do with as I please. She determines her own life.
In society, there is still the shadow of sexual assault victims somehow being responsible for the crime. Often, agencies tasked with investigating such incidents are wary because of the possibility of it being false.
That is precisely why a thorough and effective investigation is necessary. It should never be viewed as a waste of time because of anything the victim may have done, said, or where she went.
The recent confirmation hearing illustrates the problem. While the sense of fairness to both sides is essential, we must always lean on the side of innocent until proven guilty.
Yet it also underscores the problem.
Had Professor Ford felt more comfortable reporting the incident when it first happened we would not have to make a choice. And let’s be clear, it is our fault as a society that victims feel unable to report these crimes because of what we may do to them for merely standing up for themselves.
Sexual assault survivors bear the burden of being a victim twice. Once by the perpetrator, and again by those responsible to protect them. We live in a world where the President of the United States can mock a victim in the name of politics and many Americans applaud the behavior. If that is what the moral majority represents, we are indeed in decline.
Until that changes, there will be more victims left in the shadows of our immoral morality.