In the midst of celebrities and public figures coming forward about rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, one thing we should remember is that often times, women will victim blame other women just as bad as men, e.g., the exchange between gymnasts Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Aly spoke out about her sexual abuse, and Gabby responded in the most disgusting way for a woman to respond…by victim blaming.
Gymnast Simone Biles also chimed in and called Gabby out on her tweet, and stated that she was not surprised by her response, and honestly, neither was I. Gabby eventually (kinda) apologized and claimed to be standing by Aly, but it’s troubling that her first instinct after hearing about the abuse of her teammate was to blame her. This is a problem that needs to be addressed. We gotta stop this victim blaming bullshit. It’s so harmful on so many levels.
In my opinion, men and women victim blame in different ways, and it affects victims differently. (especially when you take into consideration the relationship between the victim and the blamer) Men use their social power to rid themselves of accountability. They shift the blame from them to women so they can go around being their usual deviant, conquering ass selves without any repercussions. Women on the other hand, assume the responsibility of tantalizing men, (whether they’ve been abused or not) and they project that onto other women. They claim that women need to do XYZ to prevent harm, or they claim that if they didn’t do XYZ they would have escaped harm. Both are damaging, and both are reinforced by gender roles.
We are all socialized at a young age to believe that girls/women aren’t supposed to take up too much space, we are supposed to be dainty, provide emotional and domestic labor, be nurturing, supportive, and loving, while men are supposed to be dominant, leaders, conquerors, logical, strong, emotionless, and fearless. This creates a world where men take what they want because they are men, and women acquiesce because we are women, and that is our (supposedly) respective role within society, not just in life, but in sex as well, and it is fucking harmful. Mainly because it’s not true, but also because it restricts people.
If you’re expected to be a certain way because of your reproductive organs, how can you ever grow as a person? How can you ever be your true self without limitations? You most definitely can, but at what cost?
This is why victim blaming is so fucking bad, it reinforces the idea that women have a responsibility when harm is inflicted on us by men, because of our role as women. If we have a responsibility then that means men don’t, because of their role as men. Like men are raging animals who can’t control themselves, it’s simply not true. This cycle is perpetual, toxic, and harmful. So yea, Gabby was rightfully dragged for that insensitive ignorant ass tweet.
First of all, the fact that she thinks modesty is an attribute that women should live up to says a lot about her gender politics and how she perceives herself. Plus the wording of her so-called apology is very telling, “I didn’t correctly word my reply” well girl, what is the correct wording then? Let me make sure that I word myself correctly, so there is no confusion on my stance.
Modesty is strictly a patriarchal principle used to control women’s sexuality and strip us of our agency, while simultaneously objectifying us for male gaze. The idea of “modest women” is to force women to conform to patriarchal ideals, unfortunately, there are some women that follow suit, e.g., Gabby, but this is bigger than her. I also believe that modesty promotes respect for women on a scale, and feeds into the Madonna-Whore complex. However, in any context that it is presented, modesty is not noble and should not be used as a barometer for women to avoid harm or to be respected, if for no other reason than it is an idea constructed by men for women. So, it will never be noble, even if there are some women who agree with it.
I could go further and correlate Gabby’s use of “modesty” to religion, which is also very telling, since religion is inherently oppressive, (especially in the black community) but that is for another post.
Anyway! Modesty will not protect women or girls from rape, or sexual assault / harassment. It doesn’t matter how we dress, how we talk, how we look, how we walk, or how we act, we can still be abused by men at any given time. We can’t ignore that. To think that anything we could do could prevent harm essentially puts the onus on us instead of on men, where it should be. There are women who think that modesty will protect us, or that if we are smart enough, cunning enough, witty enough, we could avoid harm. Girl. No.
If you are a woman and you have ever been lucky enough to not be a victim of some kind of sexual abuse, understand that it has nothing to do with your intellect, brain power, or modesty. It is sheer and utter luck, and only sheer and utter luck.
To base sexual abuse of any kind on the guise of modesty, is essentially equating sexual abuse to lust. If women dress or act a certain way, men could control their sexual urges better because they wouldn’t be so attracted to them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, or molestation of any kind is about power and control, and only power and control. Attraction has nothing to do with it, and even if it did, that’s not our damn problem. Men have the ability to control themselves, they choose not to because we’re not people to them. They objectify us, they see us as bodies, walking vaginas, bouncing breasts, and a big ass. They don’t see a person. They see us as things to be conquered. We tell them no or resist and they see it as a challenge, they pursue us regardless. They fondle us, grope us, rape us, and then blame us for it.
It’s disgusting how men have formulated ways to exonerate themselves by pushing this “Give men something to respect” bullshit, and then women perpetuate it by projecting it onto other women.
I always wonder about women who victim blame other women, I wonder if they have experienced some kind of sexual abuse and accepted all responsibility even though none of it was their fault.
But in this day and age, I can’t allow myself to be torn up about it, because the resources are available, especially for public figures. There is no excuse for this kind of blatant victim blaming. Not only does it rid men of accountability but also it sends a message to other victims that it was their fault and it keeps them from coming forward about their abuse.
If you have ever been abused, if you have ever felt taken advantage of, please know that none of it was your fault. You’re not to blame, and you do not owe anyone an explanation about your role in the matter. For all of you victim blaming fools, all of you “Dress how you want to be ADDRESSED” ass fools please shut the fuck up.
For the love of God, shut up!