Last night, Krista Ford, who happens to be the niece of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, tweeted what she seemed to have considered helpful 'safety' advice following a Toronto Police press conference re: a recent string of sexual assaults in Toronto. What Krista said was problematic for many reasons, including placing the onus for preventing sexual assault on a potential victim, pointing to clothes as a reason or inciting factor of sexual assault (time and time again proven to be untrue), and shaming survivors with 'don't dress like a whore'. When anyone says that 'dressing like a whore' makes someone liable to be raped, they're blaming existing survivors for their own victimization.
It was a similar sentiment in January of 2011 by officer Michael Sanguinetti that got SlutWalk Toronto into action.
We weren't at the press conference and don't know what was said. Regardless, our minds and hearts are in solidarity with the recent survivors of the attacks throughout Toronto - whatever, whoever, whenever, was done to them, was not their fault, and not about them. The victim of sexual violence is never at fault, and nobody 'makes' themself a victim.
SlutWalks around the world in over 200 cities, have been fighting sexual violence and calling attention to victim-blaming for about 18 months now. We know that victim-blaming is still a problem, and will sadly likely continue to be for some time to come.
Rates of sexual violence and what makes anyone 'at risk' parallel rates
of social discrimination. At increased risk are: women of colour,
disabled women, Indigenous women, trans women, and this is not an
exhaustive list. We KNOW that sexual violence is not about the victim.
That approximately 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 boys, and many others, are not
deserving of abuse - that no one is deserving of sexual violence.
Victim-blaming validates the actions of perpetrators of sexual violence
by the inherent assumption that anyone can do, say, drink or wear
something that makes them deserving of sexual victimization.
Let's break down some more what was wrong with Krista's tweet, and why victim-blaming is not only wrong, but unhelpful to current, and sadly future, survivors.
- The majority of people are sexually assaulted by someone they know. A family member, partner, friend.
- 'Stranger in the alley' (while this does indeed happen) do not form the majority of sexual assaults and this construct often diverts attention from where blame should be placed, and what types of conversations about 'safety' and 'precaution' can actually be helpful.
- Women in all types of dress, uncovered and fully covered, are sexually assaulted.
- As are children.
- As are men and boys.
- As are trans and intersexed people, and others who do not identify with the gender binary.
The Twitterverse had some excellent points to offer re: rape myths and victim-blaming:
Important point. Sex workers have the same right to consent as everyone else.