Why is it taboo to discuss the responsibility of victims?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by wynn, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    When there is a discussion about crime, the norm seems to be to place the whole responsibility for the crime on the perpetrator, and to consider the victim innocent (and helpless).

    But for the purposes of preventing future crime, it helps to analyze the various factors that contributed to the crime being committed, and to establish how the crime can be prevented or avoided in the future.

    Such an analysis also involves looking into the characteristics or actions of the victims.

    Such an analysis does not mean that the victims get blamed or that the perpetrators be exonerated.

    Such an analysis simply tries to find out what people can do to prevent becoming victims of crime in the future.

    And yet when this is discussed, many people react as if it would taboo to discuss the responsibility of victims.

    How come?
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm not sure I follow you. When a burglary occurs, the news often report on the security system, or lack thereof. People whose accounts are hacked are berated for not using computer security and/or for choosing passwords that are easy to guess. If you leave your car unlocked and it's stolen or robbed, you will be treated like a moron. If you're held up in Texas you'll be sneered at for not carrying a concealed weapon. Women are routinely exhorted to carry smaller purses with shorter straps, making them more difficult to snatch. It's even been pointed out many times that one of the main reasons women are more likely to be the victims of robberies than men (in an era when many women work out and are quite strong), is that men don't carry purses, so we have both hands free to fight back.
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The issue usually gets heated when the responsibility of rape victims is discussed.
    Although on principle, victim responsibility is an issue that applies to all victims, regardless of the crime.
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  7. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

    Why is it taboo to discuss the responsibility of victims?

    • People tend to polarize criminality and victimization (however, in Japan, all drivers involved in car accidents are considered partly at fault).
    • Adding insult to injury.
    • It's not PC to say, for example, that a woman in a miniskirt walking through a dark alley at midnight is at fault for being raped (but say that she didn't lock her car or house in the evening and her car was stolen or her house robbed, and everyone would shout: ""Well, of course she shouldn't have done that. Duh!).
    I think the majority of people who would think such a discussion was taboo would be women.

    The feminists would claim that they should be able to do anything without fear of victimization, a claim that men have never made (that I know of).

    The ideals of feminine beauty/fashion tend to make women helpless. We shake our heads at the defunct practice of foot binding in China, yet some modern western women wear high heels, a serious liability in hand-to-hand combat and in attempting to flee. Some women tend to carry both a large purse and a handbag (one under each arm, of course), and I don't mind saying, look like a pack animal loaded down with panniers ... and ripe for being robbed. And women's fashions can't allow for any useful pockets because it would spoil their curvature, so all the important stuff must be kept in their bags.

    Imagine this silly conversation between two men:
    Ken: Bummer, someone swiped my wallet.
    Nick: Dude, what do you mean they swiped your wallet?
    Ken: Well I had it in my gym bag which I put down for a second, and some guy grabbed it and ran. I was wearing my leather-soled dress shoes, kinda slippery on sidewalks ... you know, my running shoes were in the bag too.
    Nick: Loser, you never put those things in a bag. What were you thinking?
    Ken: Yeah, I know.
  8. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

  9. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    It is a reaction to earlier recent tendencies to dismiss claims, especially by traumatized or vulnerable victims.

    There will sometimes be a tendency to err on the side of caution, especially after so many serious crimes went unpunished.

    Of course now we see a backlash, where so many people are found innocent after spending decades in some hellhole because they couldn't afford a lawyer, or the story was in the news and they couldn't get a change of venue, etc.

    The fact is, if the crime really happened, and the victim was sufficiently traumatized, any deep interrogation might lead to serious consequences, even suicide.

    So now the question is, in evaluating complainants, how do can you ever differentiate the authentic from the inauthentic, while preserving the sanctity of the wounded?

    It will remain problematic until someone invents a mind reader.
  10. Bells Staff Member

  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    No, I do not.

    You keep maliciously distorting my stance.

    Your misrepresentation is blamable.
  12. Bells Staff Member

    Misrepresenting you?

    Where you state that victims of rape are complicit if they have dressed in a certain manner that may attract their rapist.

    How about your response to a poster who stated she was sexually abused at the age of 4? This for me was the prime example of just how I think you are a twisted individual. Because you seem to believe that because at the age of 4, she went to the person's appartment, she is somehow complicit and opened herself up to her rape. At the age of 4:

    And yet, you seemed to believe that she should take responsibility for taking part in her rape.. She was four years old when it happened and you think she was somehow responsible for it? And you actually get worse:

    And the post from you, after she advised she had been raped at the age of 4? Oh, it was quite frankly sickening. Because here we had a victim of child sexual abuse and rape saying how she had blamed herself and what do you come out with in response?

    And you have the nerve to claim that I am misrepresenting you? And this is just a few examples.

    Please, don't make me laugh.
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    You are still misrepresenting my stance.

    I don't know why you refuse to actually read what I said.

    You just get all emotional and jump to conclusions.

    It is as if you are unable to analyze the factors of a crime - other than entirely one-sidedly.

    Some studies suggest that it helps if rape victims take some of the responsibility for being raped, they recover sooner and more completely:

  14. Pineal Banned Banned

    I disagree. It depends on the crime. Sexual crimes against women have no such taboo, though in some subcultures it is a taboo. Sometimes victims of robberys and burglaries are blamed for not have taken the right preventative measures, but this is rarely a moral condemnation in the way it is in sex crimes. I reacted earlier to your use of the word complicit. This word for me raises issues both of moral equivalence and intention. I haven't heard it applied to victims of other kinds of violent crimes. But with rape it does come up.

    These are separate processes, with different moral considerations. Sure one should look at this.

    But once one is discussing a crime and evaluates the perp morally and in the same paragraph evaluates the victim morally, there is a problem. Especially given the history of victim blaming around certain crimes. Victims may very well need to learn something about how to prevent future repeats. But the context for this taking in of information must be very, very empathetic, even in abstract discussion on the internet - because those discussions will be read by victims and also set the pattern for how those victims will be talked to.

    Even more...we are all victims of perpetration in some way. There is a stage where it is good to evaluate and improve one's behavior, but people who have been abused - especially if it is part of a longer term pattern - will already turn that crime inward on themselves, blame themselves, feel shame and as if they caused it. And that is a recreation of the crime.

    We have to be incredibly careful about this. Incredibly.

    I think this kind of blurring can also have negative effects on the perps too. Where they end up thinking the victim caused their actions.

    If we were all utterly logical programmable creatures, then perhaps a rape victim could be given an evaluation, even using similar langauge as that critical of perp all in a batch with the evaluation of the perp. Such machine like humans could separate all this out as programmed, improve their behavior and not get any self-hate added by the helpers.

    But we are not even remotely the slightest bit like that.

    All the above relates to situations where there is information the victim could use to prevent future incidents or we could in general. There are many situations where no such information is relevent.

    Makes me this of the concept 'Driving while black'. Honey, you have to stop getting pulled over all the time by police, what are you doing wrong? Well, Mom, driving while black.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  15. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    bells I was watching a TV crime show a while ago which was on a serial killer who broke into peoples homes and killed them and tortured them and basically he was a very sick fuck.

    Anyone one of the detectives on the case made the comment that "in most murders the victim does something to bring the crime onto themselves". What he meant was be homeless or be mentally ill or be a prostitute or be out alone after dark ect.

    I find it strange that this sort of comment is considered acceptable but the same sort of comment about a rape victim isn't. I remember comments made when David Hooks was killed about Wether he provoked the guy who punched him or not.

    I only bring this up because it seems that in some areas the victims of rape have a lot better shielding (at least in the media) than the families of those who have been murdered or those who have been seriously assaulted. I'm not suggesting that sort of protection is unwarranted for rape victims, but rather it should be extended to all victims of crime.

    Its sad to be in a society where if your house isn't locked up tighter than the central bank then its considered your fault if something happens to you.
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member


    Denying or ignoring one's intentions does not make those intentions disappear.

    If a person dresses with the intention to provoke others, and then some people indeed end up provoked and acting on it, then the provocatively dressed person is complicit in whatever is perpetrated against them.
    For whether they get rotten tomatoes thrown at them or for something else.

    It is the intention that makes them complicit in the crime committed against them.
    I think that internally, acknowledging one's intentions is the crucial element for recovery.

    I think many people who have been victims of crimes are doing themselves a disservice when they insist that they were completely innocent in the matter - when the fact of the matter is that they were not.

    I am afraid that it is often done with so much "care" that it renders the whole discussion ineffective, thus not helping anyone.
  17. Pineal Banned Banned

    This is your judgment of what these people are doing and I rarely see it applied to people who own things that others do not have, who wear jewelery or drive nice cars.

    Most women who get raped, the vast majority are wearing clothes that are within the norms for their culture or subculture.

    The word provoke is not one they would have. That men would find them attractive and often at least as important if not more so, that they think so and their friends think so and they are seen as acceptable and OK are more often the motives.

    As a man I don't feel provoked by what women wear. I do not feel attacked.

    If they wanted to make men angry and sexually aroused there is some complicity. If there was a real hatred of men or themselves in it.

    It seems to me you are just assuming you know their motives.

    I never see this for people who wear expensive suits, etc.

    Would the executive who wears a suit three times what his competing coworkers wear really be accused by you or others of complicity in his getting beaten up by one of them? I doubt it. There is zero tolerance for this criticism and there has never been a court based tolerance for this defense, whereas there still is in some cases one with rape.

    I don't know a single rape victim where this is the problem and I have known many via work.

    Seriously, this is a hallucinated problem, whatever some of them may say publically to strangers. Most of them feel often for the rest of their lives feelings of self-hatred, shame and disgust.

    You can rest assured that they are not getting away with something.

    They are innocent, also. See my addition to the previous post, driving while black.

    How dare anyone feel victimized while not immediately ransacking themselves.

    1) see if your views are consistent regarding different kinds of crime.
    2) see if your verb 'provoke' actually fits what women are doing by asking them.
    3)see if rape victims, by talking to them, are actually getting way with somethign and not learning.

    We come from different cultures so I can't be sure, but I have no met a single rape victim who did not look at their own behavior, generally the problem being with TOO HARSH a view.

    Even the ones who were dressed frumpily and it was a complete stranger rape in a non-dating scene, etc. scenario.

    He was asking for it is not used in courtrooms and hasn't been. But with rape....ah, she was complicit.
  18. Bells Staff Member

    Oh, I read what you said. And I ended up putting you on ignore for a long time.

    You seem to believe that even children who are victims of rape and sexual abuse should somehow take responsibility for their part in the crime committed against them. It is abhorrent that you could expect a 4 year old to somehow take responsibility for being raped. That she was somehow complicit in her own rape.. at the age of 4 no less.

    That is the view you have been touting on this forum for a while now and you keep harping on about it.

    What conclusion is that Signal? That you are again stating that women are somewhat complicit in their rapes if they dress in a certain manner or do something or other or even nothing to attract the attention of their rapists? You ignore the simple fact that the majority of rapes are committed by people known by the victim. You have even gone so far as to state that a 4 year old child was somewhat complicit and responsible for her rape.

    I have worked extensively with sexual assault victims, from children to adults and your argument and stance is one that is often taken by the rapists and abusers themselves. To state that the victim had a responsibility to not attract their attention or to not walk past them or to not wear their school uniform, or to not wear dresses or business suits, etc.

    Rape is a one sided crime in that the victim is not given the choice to not be raped. Anyone can be raped, no matter what you are wearing and no matter where you are. You could go to sleep one night, with all the doors and windows in your house locked and your own father, brother, mother or relative living in the house could rape you or sexually assault you. No one can take responsibility for being raped because the responsibility lies solely on the rapist to NOT RAPE.

    Take responsibility for what exactly?

    They have done nothing wrong. It is not their fault.

    When you understand that part, get back to me.
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Frankly, I will leave you to Cifo.

    I wish I could put you on ignore.
  20. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    This is because while being practically unwise, a victim could not be said to be culpable for the behaviour of another, barring specific circumstances. In which manner do you mean this?
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Not at all. I am talking about the principle.

    I am not assuming that
    "Everyone who does/wears X has the intention Y."

    The same principle applies to them.

    If they wear those things in order to show off, to provoke others (a recent commercial for a car goes "Let others bite the dust after you"), then the same principle applies.


    Some do. And when the woman in question had the intention to provoke ...

    Even classy magazines like Oprah's O promote this idea of "one should desire to sexually arouse others," "one shoud dress sexy."

    Sure, if his intention was to provoke others, to demean them.


    If they were truly innocent, why would they feel self-hatred, shame, disgust after a crime has been commited against them?

    People may not readily admit their less-than noble intentions, often, they are not even aware of them, but that doesn't automatically mean they don't have them or that those intentions were not active.
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    An example, compare these two:

    1. You walk past a dog, thinking "Stupid dog."
    2. You walk past a dog, thinking "Good dog."

    In both situations, the dog jumps at you and bites you.

    Do you feel guilty for being bitten in either case?
  23. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    why do you think that women who in your opinion "dress sexy" are doing it to provoke or demean you? Do you have a sister? do you think when she dresses up she is thinking about you? How about your mum? your cousins? Why do you think that every women revolves around you?

    If my partner dresses up for me what makes you think that she is trying to "provoke or demean" you or anyone else. At most she is trying to get a sexual reaction out of ME, you don't even factor in. The same goes for me, if I dress up its for HER, not for anyone else.

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