Stop Fucking Blaming Women for Being Assaulted, Mother Fuckers

When I was 18, I was pretty naive. I trusted, as most teenagers do. So when a coworker asked for help one day, near the closing time of the store, I had no hesitation saying yes, though I didn’t know him all that well. I was helpful. I liked doing what I could to help people. There was a woman, in her twenties, whose name I can no longer remember, who saw the man trying to get me to help him away from the others and her reaction was immediate. She told me to get my things and that she would walk me to my car. I thought her reaction strange, but though I was naive, I wasn’t stupid. Her expression suggested she wasn’t going to leave without me while the man watched sullenly, and so I went. Her words as we walked out together were simple, “You shouldn’t be alone with him. He’s assaulted women before.”

I was appalled. I didn’t understand why he was working there if this was known. I didn’t understand the power imbalances and the toxic masculinity that ensured he was a supervisor who could get away with this. These were not things I would understand until later. She didn’t try to get him fired. He had more power. He was a senior member of staff. But she looked after me, she let it be known that I shouldn’t be around him. She did what she could.

I’ve seen so many think pieces about Harvey Weinstein, and the many people that are coming forward to out sexual abusers in Hollywood. These articles are outstanding for the most part, but I’ve sadly also seen lots of people addressing women, asking them why they didn’t come forward before, why they didn’t have more to say, why they let it go on, and suggesting that if they were virtuous and careful they would never be put into a situation of assault.

The media wants to sell a story of women being responsible for the actions of their abusers. This does no one any good, aside from the people in the industry who get your clicks and get to divert the conversation. It’s a way to accuse, to fire people up, without asking for any real change in the industry that might save others. Why this happened should be a no-brainer. Women don’t come forward because they get the same treatment that eager article writers are currently giving to every woman in the industry who havs ever even heard Harvey Weinstein’s name.

They get blamed. They get asked why they didn’t put a stop to it. I wanted to know why the woman who saved me didn’t take it to someone, and now I realize it was because it was known and no one cared because it didn’t impact sales. Do you understand that? No one cared. The only reason people care now about Weinstein is because the public put pressure on them to care. Most industries, most workplaces, don’t have this visibility. They have women who protect one another and a culture of toxic masculinity that ensures rapists maintain power.

But since many of you seem to be confused about who to blame, here are some truths for you:

  1. Women aren’t responsible for men assaulting them.
  2. You should have the brainpower to understand power imbalances. If you don’t have the brainpower, there are other people who do. Let them speak instead. No one cares what you think when you try to blame the victim. Shut up.
  3. The only way systemic change will happen is if men take responsibility for the culture surrounding assault in all industries, including the most famous one in the United States.
  4. Women are not responsible for people assaulting them. (I will repeat this forever.)
  5. It doesn’t matter what anyone is wearing, where they are, or how virtuous they are. Rape happens because of the rapist, not the survivor.

Sexual assault doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is cultivated from the top down and it is ignored. The people who surround the sexual assaulters often normalize their friends’ or coworkers’ behavior because, to them it’s just a guy joking around, just a guy being silly, just a guy being harmless. They don’t want to look at the reality, even if deep down they know it. They don’t want to acknowledge their own privilege and contributions to the culture. 

Women have only ever protected me. They might not always have the power to denounce their coworkers and their bosses, but they surround each other, look out for one another, and do their best to protect. They warn one another, they march a young girl out to their car and tell them in no uncertain terms that they need to be cautious.

The next time you feel the need to blame women for the actions of men, take a deep breath and wonder instead at the culture that celebrates these men, even after they’ve been outed. Wonder instead why it takes so many years and so many women to finally get up the momentum. How many times have these stories been squashed? How many times has someone spoken out and you thought to yourself “they’re just looking for attention.” How many times have these thoughts been your normal and you’ve never really considered why?

Instead of looking to blame the survivors in these situations, how about we all start looking at the policies that ensure abusers keep their jobs? Instead of trying to demand more from women, who do what they can around a system that punishes them harshly for speaking out, how about we demand more from the men who profit off this very same system?

It’s not women’s fault that men prey upon them at work. Nor is it their fault that companies value men more than they do women. This is systemic. Endemic. We need to stop trying to figure out who knew about the assault and start trying to make changes that ensure everyone gets to have a job safely, securely, and with the peace of mind that they won’t have to fear going into work everyday because they have nowhere else to go.

Real change takes honest assessment. If these allegations that have been rolling out against Hollywood elite and politicians teach us anything, it is that we know where the change needs to happen. Now, we just need to do something about it.

Mostly, we just need to believe women and all survivors. It shouldn’t take public shame to get a company to take these occurrences seriously. We all deserve safety. We deserve to work in peace.

Non-negotiable.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.