Tee's Blog

The Adventures of an American in Belfast

Personal Responsibility versus Victim Blaming

I am really really struggling with this.

There is a thread on Mumsnet where the Original Poster (“OP”) is asking if she was wrong to tell a friend that the friend was stupid for getting blackout drunk in a house full of strangers.

The OP goes on to say that her friend accused her of victim blaming, even though nothing happened to the friend.

And so the discussion begins.

Obviously if something had happened, it would have been in no way the drunk friend’s fault. Someone being passed out drunk on the floor is not an excuse to rape, hurt, steal from or whatever. It just isn’t. If I want to walk down Royal Avenue in Belfast starkers, it’s still not anyone’s right to attack me.

But but but…

But what about personal responsibility? What about how, in this day and age, how incredibly stupid it is to get that drunk in a house full of strangers?

Hell, the stats show that getting that drunk in a room full of friends is actually more dangerous, but that’s not my point.

My point is at what point do we have to accept that we do live in a world where there are people, friend or stranger, who will take advantage of us if we get in such a state? At what point is it our responsibility to make sure we are safe rather than rely on others to watch out for us?

In an ideal world it wouldn’t matter how drunk you got, no matter where you are. We don’t live in an ideal world, do we?

I think it’s one thing to wear a short skirt and makeup and high heels and expect to be left alone.

It’s quite another to be so drunk that you don’t know your own name, never mind where you are or who is with you. There is, of course, an expectation of safety, but is that naive? Is it living in a world that doesn’t actually exist?

I absolutely 100% do not blame any woman anywhere who has ever been raped. And I believe thousands of women all over the world who no one listens to when they say they’ve been raped.

But I also believe, 100%, in personal responsibility. It’s part of being an anarchist, actually. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business how I live or how I raise my son so long as I don’t tread on anyone else’s rights. But I also believe I have a responsibility to live to the best of my ability and be a good person and treat people the way I want to be treated.

And I think part of that is not getting so stinking falling down drunk that you don’t know your own name.

Because it’s not up to anyone else to protect you. It’s up to you to protect yourself.

But, as I said at the start, I struggle with this.

And probably always will.

Category: Feminism
  • Shelley says:

    Well said.

    10 September 2013 at 18.12
  • Jane says:

    Here here. Everyone (except children and vulnerable adults) must take responsibility for their own personal safety.

    11 September 2013 at 6.46
  • tetisheri72 says:

    My mother and I have been discussing this very subject back and forth for months. We are no closer to figuring out the answer than we were 6 months ago. It’s a very thorny subject.

    11 September 2013 at 19.05
  • Garth Gilmour says:

    I’m a self defense instructor and am always suprised the subject doesnt come up more often, but then I guess the women I train with are a self-selecting group who take their personal safety very seriously… If you want a different perspective check out the ‘Martial Secrets’ podcast episodes where Marc McYoung and/or Rory Millar are guests, especially this one http://www.martial-secrets.com/2013/05/17/rory-miller-mazlow-and-criminals/

    29 September 2013 at 20.45

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