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Drunk women to blame for sexual assault say 1 in 5 Canadians

It's outrageous that some Canadians still think women provoke or encourage a crime of violence and power.
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Gord Woodward, July 12, 2013 2:27:16 PM

No matter what the situation, you can always find somebody to blame if you look hard enough.

Now, substitute “a female” for “somebody” in that sentence, and you’ve got the outrageous line of thinking that came to light in a survey showing that nearly 20 per cent of Canadians believe women may provoke or encourage sexual assault when they are drunk.

Read that again. About one in five of the people you know think that your grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, daughter, stepdaughter and niece are all deserving or inviting a sexual assault when they have too much to drink.

Absolutely horrifying, no? But wait. It gets worse. The same survey tells us that 15 per cent of our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues believe women can encourage or provoke sexual assault by flirting with a man, and 11 per cent think short skirts have the same effect. Hell, even walking home alone was seen by respondents as a female provocation!

Now, we’d expect these results if the poll was limited to Neanderthals, drunken rednecks, and the extremists who dominated the now-extinct Reform Party (funny how all dinosaurs met the same fate). But this one was taken five short months ago, and its sampling was representative of our entire adult population. So that means that almost a quarter of the people who get to elect governments in our country see women as somehow culpable in the heinous crime of sexual assault.

What’s next – blaming kidnap victims for encouraging or provoking their assailants? Or blaming murder victims for their fate? (“He was asking for it, your Honour. He wore a Canucks jersey to a Maple Leafs game. And then he had the nerve to drink a case of beer before walking home on his own.”)

The absurdity of the “logic” is mind-boggling, as is its use as justification for violence against another human being.

But Blamers being Blamers, they’re not going to let reason get in the way of a good emotional flogging.

Consider this: On the same day that the Canadian Women’s Foundation released the results of this national survey, the Edmonton Men’s Rights group took responsibility for posters and online notices that suggest women lie about sexual assault. The “Don’t be that girl” message, aimed at women, says “Just because you regret a one night stand, doesn’t mean it wasn’t consensual. Lying about sexual assault = a crime.”

The campaign comes in response to a “Don’t be that guy” drive launched by police departments and sexual assault centres, warning young men that sex without consent is a crime.

So let’s get this straight: an effort to educate men about sexual assault has been countered with an effort to cast women as liars? Hmm. Guess we should be responding to anti-drunk driving messages with posters arguing that breathalyzers can give false readings.

That’s the problem with the Blame Game: it ignores responsibility. People of free will are responsible and accountable for their own choices regardless of gender or what anyone else says or does. It comes down to motivation, not opportunity. Sexual assault is never provoked or encouraged; it is committed.

If you’re among the one in five who disagree, don’t blame us. We’re just dealing in reality.

Image credit: Thinkstock

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Gord Woodward

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