Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blaming The Victim

This is not the first time I’ve seen this and it won’t be the last, but this is Florida, and this is a stellar example of the people this state has elected to represent us.

Elected officials should know better than to blame the victim of a sex crime.

While it’s a common tactic of abusers, it’s something no one expected of Republican Florida state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo.

During debate over a bill that would legislate a dress code for Florida students, Passidomo blamed the alleged gang raping of an 11-year-old in Cleveland, Texas on the way the young girl was dressed.

“There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gangraped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute,” Passidomo declared.

“And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it’s incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn’t happen to our students,” she added.

I am seething and ashamed that someone in this state would come up with crap like this, but I’m not surprised, given the mindset of the current crop of smug, arrogant, hypocritical and pompous nitwits that we’ve granted power to. And passing some kind of dress code will not help. In fact, this victim-blaming shit just makes it worse.

Apart from the heinous victim-blaming, which utterly relieves the perpetrators of any responsibility (while simultaneously suggesting that men can’t help themselves from raping a woman if she’s “dressed provocatively”), carelessly perpetuating the erroneous belief that following some dress code will protect children from rape is also an exceedingly dangerous game to play.

Abiding and indulging false notions about what inoculates children (and adults) against sexual violence has the inevitable effect of giving communities an excuse for not being vigilant about the things that actually support endemic sexual violence.

Passidomo’s ridiculous victim-blaming isn’t just cruel and wrong; it enables predators, who count on the reliable investment in comforting myths to create opportunities they can exploit.

The people who can put a stop to this kind of criminal act aren’t the ones on the receiving end of it. And even worse, the ones who have the real power to actually put an end to it — Ms. Passidomo, for one — are the ones who are letting it happen.