Earth. A place where people can offer all of their opinions and beliefs with a click of a button and can be read all over the world in seconds. So within this entire information overload, we seem to be faced with a rather difficult situation. Do you take everything you read as truth and adapt your beliefs to the writer’s thoughts, or do you fight with all your might to delete these digital messages? With all the blogs, forums, and e-mails out there, we have to learn how to dissect and analyze articles before we accept them as truth, because if we blindly agree with a person’s position without scrutinizing our own beliefs and the words expressed in the writings, how are we supposed to truly understand the situation and emotions behind them?
So when the issue arrives at sexual violence, why does it seem that there is still so much ignorance and victim blaming swimming around the worldly web? I came across an article that one of CCASA’s staff pointed out and was appalled by the sheer ignorance and audacity someone had to not only use real research as a farce, but to create a lie about serious and sensitive topics. The author, Richard Alleyne, took it upon himself to alter existing research to suggest that any women who are drunk, dress promiscuously, or are outgoing are at a higher risk to be sexually assaulted:
“Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped, claim scientists at the University of Leicester.
Psychologists found that all three factors had a baring on whether men would force a woman into having sex.
They found that the skimpier the dress and the more outgoing the woman, the less likely a man was to take no for an answer.”
As the article continues, he adds that this “research” has proven that men are more willing to coerce women into sex based on these factors. This article not only misuses research, but it perpetuates the idea that women are simply targets for men.
Even though the responses to the article have already been in full swing (Bioephemera , and Bad Science), it still bothers me to know that this writer from Telegraph was willing to support sexual violence myths to “spice” things up. Personally, I feel that the media today is willing to change elements of a story just to maintain this superficial world of excitement. For that reason alone, I find it hard to truly believe anything I read or hear without some kind of research of my own. This correlates to many experiences I’ve already had here at CCASA; simply look at our court cases. Had I not been present to actually hear the sentencing and explanations behind each case, I probably would have simply taken the articles from the newspaper as truth and not question the scenarios.
Even though I feel some comfort in the fact that people are standing up to these fictional articles, I still can’t help but feel let down that anyone would try to mislead others by perpetuating myths and misinformation. Not only did this journalist claim that any women who drank or wore revealing clothes were more likely to be raped, but he was desperate enough to suggest that scientists were confirming these myths. Tagging these accusations with the seal of science is a pathetic attempt to legitimize his own agenda. We look to science to be rational and factual, so when Alleyne applied the “scientist’s confirm” motto to something that implies that sexual
assault is due to drinking and clothing, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated and angry.
Sexual assaults happen because an offender decides that they want power over another human being, have control over them, and use sex as an outlet. They apparently believe they are entitled to whatever they want, no matter what. It’s not because of the clothes people wear or how much alcohol people consume. An offender is acting on their own accord, so when people demand public acceptance for an offender’s “reasoning” (actually an excuse) for what happened, the easiest way to protect themselves is to push the blame onto others. Those “others” being the survivors.
All I can say in theses situations is how annoyed I am getting, hearing the same excuses and explanations. I’m tired of hearing ‘well what did she expect?’ or ‘you should have watched your drink.’ The blame for an assault will always fall on an offender no matter what, and to have someone who calls themselves a journalist, twist facts and lie about sexual violence in a casual way is quite agitating. I can only hope that people look into what they read, and realize that not everything that is written is fact (even if it says, ‘claims scientists’.) As a society, we have to begin realizing that sexual violence has been kept in the dark because of these myths and silenced by the offender’s excuses.