Blaming the Victim:

… “It Happens all the time.”
(c) 2018, Davd

If you leave your car idling at the curb, run into a convenience store to get a pack of chewing gum, and some chick jumps into the car and steals it, what are the cops going to say when you report the theft?

If you’re walking around a flea market with your wallet bulging your back pocket, and some old lady bumps into you; and while you are apologizing to her, her daughter picks that back pocket, what are the cops going to say when you report the theft?

“You asked for it” and “You should know better” are two likely possibilities. You, the victim of the theft, will almost certainly be “blamed and shamed” for tempting the thief… for making something too easy to steal. And it’s quite true that when i carry my wallet around in public, it’s in a front pants pocket or more likely, the inside pocket of a jacket with a zipper or buttons for protection.

When i stop a vehicle and get out to go shopping, i not only stop the motor and take the key with me — I use that key to lock the vehicle. Which the cops are likely to tell you you should have done if you report such a theft to them.

Innocent trust has become something shameful, you ask? That is one way to look at these vignettes. And shame is one of many sales ploys that those who sell “security” might use to get some of your money… but I would rather live where innocent trust is safe. If the police are right, at least “right in a sense”, to blame the victim of a car theft or a pickpocket; the situation, the milieu, is wrong. It’s better to live where you needn’t be so cautious1.

Another way to look at these vignettes, is to quote a line from a famous prayer:
Lead us not into temptation. There is something wrong with the place where you would have left your car running or your wallet in your back pants pocket, rather than wrong with you. What’s wrong, let me guess, includes that you are among strangers.

Not all strangers are evil, nor even weak when tempted. Suppose that 95% of all the strangers at the shopping mall where i park, are honest and discipline themselves against theft. I should lock the car anyway: There is enough risk that one of the weak or thieving 5% might wander by, while i am in a store, that i ought to lock it.

Likewise, don’t wear your wallet in easy reach of a crowd of strangers, even if 95% of those wandering the open air market are fit to be trusted.

Likewise, by analogy, if you are an actress or other female performer, a teenage girl in school, a “good looking” woman office worker, you should take care not to lead the men who see you into temptation. The analogy includes, then, women who are “sexually harassed” while dressed or behaving less than modestly. As surely as a wallet in a prominent back pocket and a car left on the public street with the keys in the ignition [or even on the front seat], are “asking for it”; so projecting one’s sexuality by dress, posture, how one moves one’s body, scent, “makeup”, and some of you readers can probably imagine other ways, is likewise “asking for it.”

(More surely, in fact. Projecting sexuality is directed at other people. Leaving keys in a private car or a wallet in a prominent back pocket, is perhaps overly trusting of strangers, but it happens entirely within one’s personal territory.)

Once a woman projects her sexuality [or a man projects his, but that’s much less common], if the [wo]man responds to that temptation — it’s not clear who is the victim, nor who is to blame.

The fact that much “entertainment” is substantially erotic, complicates the problem. Try out for a job acting in an erotic production, while dressed and behaving modestly? Might that perhaps be impossible? Might some of the morality underlying modesty, be telling us that erotic entertainment is wrong, after all? Perhaps that is a lesson from the “MeToo and Time’sUp” memes — that the time when erotica is considered legitimate entertainment, should be ending. Perhaps it should never have begun.

Me, i’m on the side of modesty, along with “Jim” who found attractive women working near him distracted him from doing his job (Vincent, 2006: 35); along with traditional Christian teachings; and along with schools that require, even attempt, “dress codes”.

If that means erotic entertainment becomes as improper as smoking in restaurants and driving with a mobile phone in one hand — that’s OK with me. I’ve abstained from all three for many years; in fact, all my life. In fact, i believe erotic entertainment itself is a kind of sexual harassment.

This blog began because Internet security, and electronic security generally, is looking more and more like an endless, losing battle. I recently spent several hours “updating” the operating system of the computer i am using to write this blog, because of an especially serious “CPU bug” (or is that, “bugs”?) that can be exploited via the Internet (and computer networks generally.) Much more tedious, that “updating”, than stopping the car motor and locking the car, or putting my wallet in an inside jacket pocket. Not at all the way i wanted to spend a Friday afternoon and evening.

If you look after a computer’s security, never mind the security of several computers, you’ll read articles blaming those who fail to protect themselves against wrongdoing by strangers. Does that look analogous to a bulging wallet or a car left running? — it does to me! Once again, the victim of wrongdoing is blamed for failure to spend significant effort and perhaps money, on protecting her/himself. And as in the case of victims of car theft and pocket picking, the victims seldom if ever use that “Blaming the Victim” phrase.

I chose to use opening examples that would have been shamed when i was one third my present age, and have nothing to do with these Janie-come-lately threats. I chose to use examples for which men were more shamed than women, back then and perhaps still. My reasons were to demonstrate that men as well as women can readily become “blamed victims”, and in situations that are not at all sexual.

The computer and Internet examples — and the long waits and security checks required when you travel by airliner — indicate that security is becoming a worse problem. The car keys and wallet examples indicate that security has been something of a problem for decades and even centuries. The sexual-harassment reaction doesn’t indicate either one: It might well indicate that the “sexual freedom” of the late 20th Century, which began when oral contraceptives and the Baby Boom population bubble coincided in the late 1960s, is abruptly ending.

Brinton’s famous Anatomy of Revolution (1965) posited that sexual liberty was normal during the time a revolutionary movement was taking power; and that prudery was normal when that same revolution was consolidating power. When a Women’s March article on the CBC website carries the title “The Future is Female” that looks to me like consolidating power (but not like equality).

So we may be in a time of rapid, even abrupt moral change from pro-sexual to anti-sexual — and if “anti-sexual” works out to blessing monogamous fidelity and condemning promiscuity, that’s fine with Christian old me. Among other benefits that such “anti-sexuality” will bring with it, are lower rates of “STD” infection, and less cost to taxpayers.
Sexual prudence is good for the men who are prudent [and for prudent women also]; and for public health. If things go beyond prudence to prudery for a while — well, prudery is safer than promiscuity.

Safer from accusations of sexual-harassment, as well as from infection.

References cited:

Blatchford, Christie, 2016 “Some of Us Escaped the Groping Back Then“. National Post Full Comment, October 14. Her recollections match mine—the sexually aggressive were a small minority of men [and of women].

Brinton, Crane, 1965: The Anatomy of Revolution. NY: Vintage.

Vincent, Norah, 2006. Self Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man. New York: Viking Penguin.


1. . The places i know about, where you needn’t be so cautious, are all small towns, villages, and rural areas — which is not the same as saying every small town, village, and rural area is that safe.

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About Davd

Davd (PhD, 1966) has been a professor, a single father keeping a small commercial herb garden so as to have flexible time for his sons, and editor of _Ecoforestry_. He is a practicing Christian, and in particular an advocate of ecoforestry, self-sufficiency horticulture, and men of all faiths living together "in peace and brotherhood" for the fellowship, the efficiency, and the goodwill that sharing work so often brings.
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