Thursday, February 5, 2009

The insidious creep of slut shaming

On my frosty morning commute today, I was treated to a not-so-subtle attitude of victim blaming on Vermont Public Radio, carefully encased in a "feel-good" piece about teenagers wanting to restrict sales of malt beverages that are perceived to be marketed to underage drinkers because they come in colorful bottles, are fruity flavored and are often sold next to soda & other non-alcoholic beverages. 
Fine, you say, so what's so bad about preventing underage drinking? Well, nothing, unless you have to include slut-shaming in the mix, as the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Liquor Control, Michael Hogan, felt compelled to do:
"...there's been studies showing that young girls underage drink a lot of these products and the resulting consequences are not very good."
Aha! And pray tell, what does one imagine these "consequences" are for "young girls underage"? You got it folks, it's the age old "drunken women are asking for it" meme, raising its ugly head once again. Can it be anything else? We're not concerned here about, say, "young boys underage," are we? Nope, we're too busy implying that rape is a consequence of underage drinking by girls. After all, these hormone-saturated young boys can't possibly be held responsible for their own actions, can they? Boys will be boys, after all, and as the dominant sex they should be allowed to do so without guilt or shame, right? Girls that drink, or wear short skirts, or go out alone, are just provoking acts of violence. This is what we're taught from all corners, isn't it? 
Well I'm not having it. No one can convince me that any woman ever "asks" to be raped, no matter how drunk, how she's dressed, how she does any damn thing. It's a load of horseshit that men can't control themselves. Keep it in your pants, dudes. It's not that hard.
So I wrote a letter to our pal Mr. Hogan, and cc'ed the VPR reporter, John Dillon. I have little hope that my crazy radical feminist viewpoint will be taken seriously by either, but we shall see. Here's the text of the e-mail I sent:
Mr. Hogan,
I would like to address your comments in a news item on Vermont Public Radio, broadcast this morning. 
You stated: "Our concerns were naturally not just a taxation issue, but there's been studies showing that young girls underage drink a lot of these products and the resulting consequences are not very good."
I am deeply disturbed by this statement. It would appear to me that you are implying that underage drinking, for young women, is accompanied by the resultant "consequence" of potential sexual assault. Rape, sir, does not occur because a young woman drinks. There is no justifiable reason to shame women into believing that their actions brought on such a horrific event. It is exactly this sort of attitude that minimizes the reporting of rape, as women are taught that the assault was somehow their fault, that by drinking alcohol they were somehow "asking for it". This stereotype is inaccurate and damaging. Your statement implies that "young girls underage" can avoid or minimize the risk of being raped by not drinking. Perhaps they should not go anywhere alone, just to be safe, as well? Or wear burkhas to avoid provoking sexual desire in men on the street? You can see how quickly this line of reasoning leads to the oppression of women. 
If you are truly concerned about the health and well being of women of any age, I would encourage you to take a hard look at your own attitudes and realize that by even implying that rape is a "consequence" is incredibly dangerous and supports a sexist viewpoint that women must take responsibility for attracting the attention of a rapist. This is ludicrous. I cannot stress this enough: it is the man's responsibility not to rape, it is NOT the woman's responsibility to avoid being raped.
If you wish to reduce the incidence of rapes of drunken underage girls, I recommend teaching underage boys that rape is never, ever acceptable, no matter what. Place the responsibility where it belongs, and stop blaming women for being victims.
Thus ends my morning of tilting at windmills. Take that, patriarchy!

3 comments:

  1. Rock on, Wolfie! Hogan has one of the more asinine bits of reasoning I've heard north of Alabama. Disgusting! Plus, I started to DO IT be4 I started to drink, u foolz!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rock on Wolfie! Hogan has one of the more asinine bits of reasoning I've heard north of Alabama!

    ReplyDelete

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