Total Sorority Move (TSM), a site dedicated to sorority girls, published an article recently called Stop Crying Rape. In the article, the author, an ex sorority girl, shames survivors of sexual assault for reporting their assault:
Faced with our poor decisions of the night before, we had no excuse but to take them all back. After all, that’s what all of the flyers and the seminars and the PSAs said. That’s what our professors told us, as did the nurses at Student Health. That’s what the protestors wearing the skimpy outfits and holding the glittery posters said. “It’s not your fault,” they all told us. Yes, you were drunk. And yes, you flirted with him. And yes, you initiated the first makeout…and the second one. Yes, you whispered, “Let’s get out of here.” But you felt guilty this morning. And so you take it all back. No matter that he was drunk, too, and you were a willing participant — you take it back. And in the game of your word against his, you will always win.
Articles like this one and Urban Romance’s “Don’t Be a Slut for Halloween” promote the idea that a man can take advantage of a woman and not respect their boundaries. While they may be written to draw in readers and create controversy, many readers may also believe that this concept of slut shaming is acceptable. It also promotes victim blaming. These pieces and the like contribute to the idea that a person’s wardrobe or “vibes” can stand in place of consent in lieu of the word “yes”.
TSM has a large female audience and many of them have experienced sexual assault at some point of their lives. Telling these women that their experiences are invalid because they were intoxicated at the time that it occurred allows men to think that their behavior is acceptable. Female readers who commented on the article shared their experiences of sexual assault and received responses that perpetuated this idea that the victim should be shamed for what happened to them instead of receiving the justice they deserve.
One of the replies to a comment said,
If a woman doesn’t want a man hitting on her, then she has every right to not drink, not dress provocative, and certainly not flirt. Flirting and dressing like a slut gives the impression to a man that you want to hook up. It isn’t culture, it’s biology, something feminists can’t grasp. If a woman then proceeds to hookup with said man and then get dumped immediately after, she has every fucking right to, even if said man is a sleazy asshole. But guess what? It’s not anyone’s fault but hers because she made that choice.
It does not matter if a woman had flirted with a guy or made out with him before the assault, nor does it matter what she was wearing. Men should not be given the okay to rape women simply because they are drunk. This article makes the experiences of women who have been sexually assaulted feel invalidated.
As a woman who has experienced sexual assault while under the influence of alcohol, I can honestly say it was not a situation that I simply regretted in the morning. I said no. I passed out. I was clearly not asking for it. I did not deserve what happened to me and neither do any of the women who have experienced sexual assault. While it was my choice to make out with my attacker before being assaulted, it was not my choice to be raped. Nobody chooses to be raped.
Instead of teaching women what not to do to attract rapists, why not teach men not to rape? Everyone should be able to feel safe with someone who they flirt, kiss, or have sex without the fear of being assaulted and treated like their experience is invalid. It is important to stop telling women that it’s their fault and start teaching men to respect boundaries.