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In cases of rape especially blame is a big question. This is perpetuated be our society s tendency to treat cases of rape differently than other crimes. Consider the following:
A man calls in to report a mugging. He tells the police, I was walking down 21st Street when a man approached me, threatened me, and demanded all my money, so I gave him my wallet and he ran.
And the officer replies, So you willingly gave him your wallet, without fighting back or calling for help or trying to escape? Did he have a weapon? Have you ever donated money in the past?
The man says, Well, yes I have donated and I cooperated. He didn t have a weapon but he was bigger than me and I was terrified. I thought he was going to kill me!
The officer then sums up, So you knowingly walked down the street in your fancy suit when everyone knows you like to give money away, and you didn t fight back or yell. Sounds to me like you just gave money away and now you have donors regret. Tell me, do you really want to ruin this man s life because of your mistake?
This is of course preposterous. But this is exactly what happens to rape survivors. Their clothing, their past sexuality, and their actions in response to the attack are all taken into consideration.
The cut of your dress does not condone rape any more than wearing a suit condones mugging. Your choices concerning sexuality do not condone rape any more than philanthropy condones mugging. Not screaming, fighting, or trying to escape does not make it consensual any more than handing over your wallet under threat makes it a donation.
In the case of the mugging story people I have told are immediately outraged but when I switch the case to rape they fall silent. Why are we so quick to realize the absurdity in the mugging story, and yet this happens to rape survivors every day?