Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blame yourselves girls!

Oh god, here we go again.... Another poster campaign telling women how to behave if they don't want to be violently assaulted. This poster warns, we are told, of "the dangers of drinking too much - from losing valuables to being assaulted".

Why do we continue to run these kinds of campaigns, implying that at some level it's women's own fault if they are a victim of crime? Aren't we trying to build a fair and free society? Isn't it the perpetrators of crime who we are supposed to be locking up, not the victims?

I go out and get at least moderately drunk on a relatively regular basis, once every week or two. Often an unlicensed minicab is the only way to get home and, yes, sometimes I go on to parties or to houses with people I don't necessarily know all that well. I refuse to be told that I can't live my life as I choose to and I refuse to accept that it's my own fault if I'm attacked (which I've never been in a good 15 years of behaving like this).

Now also - men are more frequent victims of muggings and assaults than women. As demonstrated in this Home Office report (see page 8). So why is it that women are being singled out for warnings? The same report states that: "While women were slightly less often victimised, they were much more fearful than men". Lets warn men that if they go out drinking, they could get mugged...

The report also states that "Roughly a third of those who had been mugged reckoned that their assailants had been drinking; of those assaulted, over half believed their attackers had been drinking". Now what this probably indicates is that the kind of people who become muggers and assaulters are more likely than others to develop a drink dependency problem. Alternatively however it could indicate that people who've had too much to drink are more likely to commit these kinds of crimes. Note that "The vast majority of alcohol-related assaults involved male offenders only", that's from another government website, It goes on to say that 90-95% of drunken crime perpetrators are male. So perhaps we should be encouraging men to avoid going out drinking in case they turn into criminals.

When I'm drunk I may well dance like an idiot to 80s music and I might well snog someone I hardly know too. I'm at very little risk of physically attacking anyone though. So don't tell me how much I can and can't drink. Thank you.


lee said...

I like your article -- here is some stuff I wrote out after reading Trish's post.

Alcohol and drug abuse are different than interpersonal violence. However, the societal message is that the alcohol is responsible for the act of violence instead of holding the perpetrator responsible.

When I was in shelter this attitude was heavily critiqued and the shelter residents, myself included, were taught to recognize and refute that misappropriation of responsibility. Therefore, to be confronted with such an attitude from a shelter itself was stunning to me.

I had a discussion with the other staff and, even after they agreed it was victim-blaming, they refused to take it down. They said the anti-alcohol message was needed. They had three or four other anti-drug/ anti-alcohol posters that were not offensive from a feminist view (from other views, well that it is a different story but I pick my battles). I didn't see why they would want to distribute that attitude about rape when they had just been approved for a grant to run a rape survivor support group. I was quite unsettled.

I guess I always have been a bit naive.

simon said...

If I walk alone, night after night, through some of the less desirable parts of Manchester, chatting on my expensive mobile phone with an expensive watch on my wrist, one day I will get mugged. It will not be my fault. It should not happen, but it will. One day we'll live in a world where vulnerability is not exploited, at least some idealistic people tell us this is so.