Yoffe points to evidence that about 80 per cent of women at college who have been sexually assaulted had been drinking, and they are unlikely to report it to the police. The fact they had been drinking at the time was a source of guilt and shame. Yoffe concludes from this that young women ought to “take responsibility” and stop drinking in the hope that “their restraint trickles down to the men.” My interpretation is somewhat different: I think Yoffe might have got cause and effect the wrong way round.
Despite what Yoffe seems to think, she is not the first to suggest that women are somehow responsible for stopping themselves from getting raped. She says: “That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.” To me, this is still called victim-blaming. It shifts responsibility from the perpetrator to the survivor. It entails undue focus on the survivor’s behaviour or attire. Survivors are often reluctant to report rape because of the belief that they brought it on themselves. Such victim-blaming beliefs have also been found to differentiate between men who were sexually coercive or aggressive and those who were not in one study. In other words, lumping responsibility on the survivor helps rapists justify their actions to themselves, and helps them get away with it.
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