Content warning: discussion of rape and sexual assault
I kind of hate myself for writing this post, because it means giving Mia Freedman more of the attention she obviously craves. At the same time, what she writes is damaging, and the more people who counter it, the better. Instead of linking her article, I’m going to summarise it: Mia Freedman wrote an article that basically came straight from my list of eight bullshit articles for women to avoid; it’s bullshit article number 7).
I’ve often wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, to consider that perhaps she may just have some views that conflict with her self-image as a feminist. Whatever, I think we all know better now. The tabloid-style articles she writes are written to get a reaction: to inflame us all, to make sure we become enraged on twitter and write responses on our blogs that direct more attention to her website. A website that is her living. A woman making a successful living from a website? Sounds great to me, bring it on. A woman making a living from a website that publishes articles which place the responsibility of rape and sexual assault onto women and victims? Not great. In fact, horrendous, unethical and totally bullshit.
I know that by writing this post I may be helping to feed the outrage she so carefully manufactures for her website. But because it’s such a big website with a large audience and influence, I think feminists have a duty to counter what she writes – to counter the damage that it can do. She should try talking to rape counsellors who have spoken to countless women who are scared to prosecute their rape because they were drunk at the time and are afraid they will be blamed for it. She should try talking to rape victims and listen to the heartbreaking reality. She should try doing actual research about how the majority of rape happens. But she won’t because that doesn’t make as much money as re-hashing rape myths for click-bait.
We are told from birth to be careful as women. As plenty of other people have noted in the past few days in response to Freedman, if simply ‘being careful’ actually worked in preventing rape, there wouldn’t be rape. Rape is a crime and the only person responsible for a crime is the person who commits it. Full stop.
It really does bring me to tears to see a woman literally profiting from the pain and trauma of others under the banner of feminism. I am so tired of tabloid faux-feminism that is trotted out like a trend. I’m tired of all of this and I don’t know how many more times we can say: ‘rape is never the victim’s fault’ without someone writing some crap commentary piece that says, ‘yes, but ...’. No, no ‘but’, end of story; how about focusing on the people who commit rape?
Here are some other, more eloquent responses to this topic:
: : Today in ‘What Mia Freedman has done now’
“Now Mia, I know you’ve learned the term ‘victim blaming’ but you haven’t learned what it means. It’s like the time I thought ‘reactionary’ meant someone who reacted to things. Boy, was I embarrassed when I discovered it meant someone who opposes political/social progress. If we teach girls that they can reduce their risk of sexual assault by not getting drunk, and then they go out and get drunk and someone assaults them, then what? It means that if she didn’t get drunk then it wouldn’t have happened, right? That means she’s kinda responsible for what happened, right? Hello, victim blaming! You can’t possibly say in one breath that ‘sexual assault is never the fault of the victim’ and then in the next breath suggest that something she did caused the assault. That seems pretty bloody obvious to me. Some might say it was common sense.”
: : To the woman unconvinced
“Now ask yourself, what precautions do you take to prevent rape when you go out? List them all – from what you decide to wear to which bar you choose to go to for drinks with your friends. And actually, choose another woman friend or relative and ask her what precautions she takes. What decisions does she make about public transport, about what time of day she goes outside to exercise, about where she parks her car at the shopping centre, about making eye contact with strangers? You’ll find there is, literally, a list a mile long and I guarantee you that you’ll find all women, not just you, already take a lot of precautions to prevent rape. Taking more responsibility isn’t the magic answer to rape. Putting responsibility back where it belongs – on the person who rapes – is the only way to truly tackle rape culture.
Being a self-declared feminist won’t cut you any slack on this issue. As long as you are still arguing that victims of rape aren’t taking sufficient precautions you are coming from a place filled with victim-blaming and rape apologists, and excuse the rest of us feminists, but we won’t be backing down from telling you exactly that.”
No, we won’t, and I’m thankful at least that there are feminists who won’t back down on this.