Who’s to blame for rape?

Rapists, perhaps? No, silly rabbit, loose women are to blame when someone sexually assaults them.

Apparently a sizable portion of the Scottish population believes that women are at least partially to blame for their own rapes if they do things like flirt, drink, wear “revealing” clothing, or have “many” sexual partners.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said the survey had asked “detailed and sensitive” questions on all forms of violence against women, including rape.

But he stressed: “Ministers are clear that rape is a despicable crime and those found guilty deserve to be punished and society protected.

“No victim should be dissuaded from coming forward because they fear that the law is unclear or that their experience will not be taken seriously.”

Sounds like they’ll be taken quite seriously — so long as they never left the house, never had anyone over to their house, wore head-to-toe loose-fitting clothing, never had sex, and never spoke with men. Is that really so much to ask?

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35 comments for “Who’s to blame for rape?

  1. Janis
    August 9, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    It’s also vitally important to remember that if you fit all those criteria, you will be lambasted for being a frigid, uptight, manhating bitch.

    Which doesn’t actually bother some of us.

  2. August 9, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Well, you know, you can’t expect would-be rapists to be able to control themselves when faced with a woman wearing a short skirt. That is just too much to ask! And smiling at a man is obviously an ironclad invitation to intercourse. *eyeroll*

  3. Tom
    August 9, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    “18% believing she was responsible to some extent if she was known to have had many sexual partners.”

    This statistic is particularly unsettling; I’m not sure what question is being asked and answered.

    Is the presumption that multiple partners would simply increase the likelihood of encountering a rapist? That’s obvious.

    Or is it that if a woman is known to have had multiple partners then a man is entiled/the woman derseves, to be raped? How would the rapist know that a woman had many sexual partners unless he knows her? Aren’t most rape victims raped by someone they know?

    Whenever I hear about studies like these which mention the woman’s “responsibility” for her own rape, I ususally put it down to clumsy wording or insensitivity; kind of “it’s not your fault, but the world’s a dangerous place and you should be careful” sentiment; all the other examples could be read that way. But this is just a flat-out threat.

  4. micheyd
    August 9, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    I wonder what the stats would be if they asked about the questionee’s sisters, mothers, daughters, wives, and friends, in particular as regards their “responsibility” for their rapes.

  5. orlando
    August 9, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Stats like these come up reasonably regularly in the news (UK-based Amnesty report of two years ago, Australian study earlier this year, etc.), but never seem to go on to say what strategies are being put in place to combat them.

    You know what else has been in the news a whole lot lately? Articles about raunch culture and the pressure women, and even very young girls, are under to appear desirable and sexual, or risk being at best ignored, at worst ridiculed and tormented.

    Just ONCE it would be good to see someone join the dots and put the two together.

    i.e.: we are living in a world where a young woman who doesn’t dress and act flirtatiously when she goes out will be mocked and marginalized for it, but by the very act of conforming to what have become normal standards of dress and behaviour, in many people’s eyes, she surrenders her right to complain if she is raped.

    What an extraordinary victory for our rapists.

  6. SarahMC
    August 9, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Who’s to blame for robbery?

    – Was he wearing an expensive suit?
    – Did he lend the robber a quarter once?
    – Is he known to have generously donated to charities in the past?

  7. August 9, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    not that this is a funny topic, but i thought a tiny bit of absurdity might not be amiss:
    I’m at work, and haven’t taken my ADD meds, so my eyes jumped all over the page rather than reading at first, so what I saw was:
    “Who’s to blame for rape? Rabbits.”

  8. Louise
    August 9, 2007 at 2:18 pm


    Unbelieveable. This is just remarkably disgusting. I didn’t know so many Scots had their heads up their ass.

  9. Anatolia
    August 9, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Good point, Sarah.

    Who’s to blame for car jacking?

    – Were you driving a nice car in a flashy color?
    – Did you have your window rolled down?
    – Did you stop your car?
    – How many times have you driven your car in the past?
    – So you’re a risk taker, then, eh?
    – Did you take a suspicious route? Was it past 5pm?
    – How could someone have possibly taken your car? You had the keys.

  10. Sailorman
    August 9, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    However the study found that in each of these cases, only about 5% of people thought the woman was totally or mostly responsible for the attack.

    That’s unnerving. 5% would find him automatically innocent even if he raped her, just because of her actions. In civil court, too. Christ.

    What I wish they published was the other aspect: For what percentage of people would these beliefs change their willingness to convict? I’m guessing the %age is frighteningly high, and it’s functionally a lot more relevant than the 5% “never convict no matter what” idiots.

  11. August 9, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    But he stressed: “Ministers are clear that rape is a despicable crime and those found guilty deserve to be punished and society protected.”

    I find that the people who feel the need to stress that they’re clear about how rape is a horrible crime, and rapists should be punished, tend to be the ones arguing that some fact pattern wasn’t *really* rape and the accused doesn’t deserve punishment.

  12. Kath
    August 9, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I wish I was at all surprised by this. But I’m always astounded by the number of people I think of as decent and fair who will bend over backwards to find an excuse for rape.

  13. August 9, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Every time I see one of these surveys, it pisses me off to no end because of the way it makes me, as a male, look. I’m lumped in with these idiots who say they can’t control themselves around a woman if she’s dressed in a certain way, or that she’s asking for it by being friendly.

  14. August 9, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Jesus Fucking Christ. It’s “Contributory Negligence” bullshit all over again.

  15. Sailorman
    August 9, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Moderately Insane trackback:
    Research Possibilities re Rape Activism–Maximizing Convictions.

    Knowing exactly what attitudes people have, and the degree to which of the attitudes affects willingness to convict, would be important. In particular, it would help anti-rape activists accurately assign resources to the fight against rape.

    The procedure to answer this question…

  16. unhurt
    August 9, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    yeah. my country is not a shining example of great places to be female.

    the bbc version:


    has a quote that annoys me no end too, from the SNP’s sandra white: she starts out quite well

    It is double standards. Do men who are drunk deserve to be battered or attacked because they are drunk,

    but then she says

    or if someone’s drunk do they deserve to be knocked down by a car if they fall in front of it?

    because car accidents are totally the same as rape. except for the part where very few people decide to run someone over because they thought she wanted it/all pedestrians are teases anyway/she consented to being driven at and changed her mind in the morning. GAH.

  17. Anna Phor
    August 9, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Jeff, I think that’s a bit unfair. If I was the government spokesperson reporting these statistics, I’d most definitely want to stress that the *law* is what matters, not the opinions of idiots. Particularly given that the study was conducted within a larger campaign of public outreach and advertising aimed at educating people and preventing violence against women.

  18. Bitter Scribe
    August 9, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    The Scottish Law Commission is currently examining the law on rape and other sexual offences and will make recommendations for reform.

    This makes me wonder just what “reforms” they’re contemplating.

    Also, pardon my Yank ignorance: Who or what is “the Scottish Law Commission”? Do the Scots get to make their own laws? Aren’t they subject to the laws of Parliament, like the rest of the UK?

  19. August 9, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    So, the next time some guy complains about being robbed or carjacked, we should sneer at him and suggest that “it is partially your fault, for having the kind of money that would make you an attractive target to a thief”, I suppose.

    Morons, the lot of them.

  20. unhurt
    August 9, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Do the Scots get to make their own laws? Aren’t they subject to the laws of Parliament, like the rest of the UK?

    yes and no – in this case, the wikipedia article is quite a good summary, and as far as my non-lawyerly eyes can tell, accurate.

  21. Thomas
    August 9, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    BS, the Scottish legal system has been independent throughout the Union, which began in 1707. Westminster ruled Scotland for most of that time, but they never homogenized the laws. Now, Scotland has its own parliament and does much of its own internal lawmaking, though it remains yoked with England, Wales and Northern Ireland in matters of economics and foreign policy.

    You say, “like the rest of the UK,” but the Westminster parliament has devolved at least some domestic power to Wales, and the power sharing government has been agreed in NI, so Westminster has sole responsibility now only for England.

  22. Thomas
    August 9, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    ps Scotland also has a separate education system from England, a separate set of HS exit tests, and a separate university system.

  23. Arianna
    August 9, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Bitter Scribe,

    I only lived there for a year, so I’m not an expert or anything, but there was a fair amount of power devolved to the Scottish Parliament a few years back, so they control alot of things seperately from the London, but I don’t know exactly how far that stretches.

  24. Arianna
    August 9, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Holy crap Thomas, you got all that in while I was typing!

  25. August 9, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Whenever I hear about studies like these which mention the woman’s “responsibility” for her own rape, I ususally put it down to clumsy wording or insensitivity; kind of “it’s not your fault, but the world’s a dangerous place and you should be careful” sentiment; all the other examples could be read that way. But this is just a flat-out threat.

    I don’t think it’s clumsy wording or insensitivity. There is a belief, which more than a few men have expressed to me, that if a woman sleeps around, that means she is exercising no discretion in who she sleeps with, and therefore logically there is no reason she would deny any man sex.

    What I always wonder with this stuff is how folks think even their ideal virgin girl waiting for marriage can function under these rules. How do you acquire the husband you’ve saved yourself for if you can’t “flirt” without making yourself responsible if rape ensues? It’s impossible. So the real message I’m getting is that people believe sex is the responsibility of women, period, no matter the circumstances.

  26. SoE
    August 9, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    And when you’re not drinking, run around clothed head to toe and never even look at a man you’re a religious extremist. Any way you’re doing, you’re doing wrong and doing wrong isn’t doing right, either.

    FTR: Many laws of the European Union are decided upon in Brussels anyway and the national and regional parliaments change their own laws to fit them in.

  27. Miller
    August 9, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Yes, women and girls are to blame for male heterosexuality, a condition that naturally results in launching aggressive (unprovoked) and even lethal violence against the female gender. /sarcasm

    My favorite part about this male heterosexual agenda not even the mind-numbing “coercion is natural” them but the the assumption that somehow women and girls’ wardrobe or behavior can negate male sexual attraction towards females.

  28. Miller
    August 9, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    What I meant to write:
    My favorite part about this male heterosexual agenda is not even the mind-numbing “coercion is natural” theme but the the assumption that somehow women and girls’ wardrobe or behavior can negate male sexual attraction towards females.

    Why is it so impossible to understand that aggressive violence is always unjustifiable? Unless the female target was threatening the physical safety of the male, it is unjustified to physically assault her let alone torture or kill her. Apparently, whenever male sexual arousal is involved, all of that logic becomes hearsay.

    Does anyone think the situation is getting even remotely better? Gays are making strides against hate crimes and yet we are still struggling horribly with the acceptance and celebration of rape, slavery (trafficking), and even murder of women and girls for the crime of being female.

  29. Janis
    August 9, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Apparently, whenever male sexual arousal is involved …

    violence is asumed to be part of the equation, which — as much as I know I’m probably establishing a reputation here for genuwyne Man-Hating on this here board, gives me the total fucking creeps.

    Okay, so she wore a short skirt and got you hot and you couldn’t control yourself.

    Kindly explain to me what the fuck getting horny has to do with putting that girl’s head through drywall, please? You got all sexed up and hard and your little pee-pee wanted action, so … um, you beat the crap out of someone? Is there a connection between fucking and beating the shit out of someone that I’m missing here? If you get horny, you want to FUCK something, not PUNCH it. If you punched something, it meant you got VIOLENT, not HORNY. I’ve gotten horny, and it means I want to put my tongue on someone, not that I want to cut my knuckles on their front teeth. WTF?!

    Was this the reason for lynching, too? They got horny and strung someone up?

    This is simple, pure hate-crime violence we’re talking about here, goddamn it. No one appealed to anyone’s sex drive to justify HANGING PEOPLE (not that I can recall). It was vengeance for imagined slights, hatred, suspicion of that which was different that caused lynchings. The only difference between lynchings, and rape-n-gay-bashing is that only in the second can you make mystical appeals to hard penises and hormones as if they have fuckall to do with what’s going on.

    Being HORNY doesn’t make me want to punch things. Being ANGRY makes me want to punch things. What do men have to be ANGRY about when it comes to women? (That isn’t a rhetorical question, either.)

    This conflation of sex and anger is a fucking excuse. We could probably connect the desire to eat toxic waste with a sex drive if we wanted to, but instead we’ve seized on beating the hell out of people as somehow connected to sex. It’s fucking berserk.

  30. Janis
    August 9, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    I guess that was a long-winded way of saying that I agree with Miller.

    HORNY == wanting to fuck really bad.

    ANGRY == wanting to hit someone really bad.

    I’m just not seeing a connection. If those two are connected, the reason for it is a feeling of very clear-cut entitlement — “How Dare She Not Be Available To Me At All Times” — that hasn’t got squat to do with hormones or biology.

  31. micheyd
    August 9, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    the assumption that somehow women and girls’ wardrobe or behavior can negate male sexual attraction towards females.

    And a look at, say, Iran (I mean seriously, have they eliminated rape?) should tell you wardrobe has fuck-all to do with sexual violence against women.

  32. August 9, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    # Miller Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 7:56 pm
    Does anyone think the situation is getting even remotely better?

    Sadly, no.

    Not only is the situation not getting better, but it may be getting worse. My money’s on worse, i’m sorry to say.

    And I agree with you that the link between sex and violence makes no sense. I have been in violent situations and cannot imagine feeling LESS sexually aroused. It is simple dominance and aggression, not sex. Sex is just an excuse.

  33. Ole
    August 10, 2007 at 3:12 am

    32% of the Scots are assholes! I don’t care what their sorry excuses and explanations for their attitudes are. Rape of a woman is always 100% to blame on the man.

    I’ve had discussions with other guys on this issue. Several seemed to be OK with ‘prepping’ a woman by getting her drunk, thereby making it easier to convince her to sleep with them (also rape in my book). I’m fucking tired of those attitudes towards women here in the UK. I’m a straight guy but next time I have a similar discussion I’m going to ask him if it would be OK if I get him drunk and fuck him seeing that, after all, an ass is an ass…

  34. August 10, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Why do we still have so far to go? What is actually wrong with people; when will they accept the truth of the matter of the heinous crime of rape?

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