Today’s post was originally a light-hearted commentary on things to improve jury duty. It joined the “in case you’re needed” area and was replaced with something more relevant and important: victim shaming. This is a response to the story about Donna Karan saying that women “ask for it”. “The way that they dress, they are asking for trouble.”
The minute I hear those words, my skin crawls. I can’t imagine someone wakes up and says “I think I’ll wear this and I really hope I get sexually harassed or assaulted for it. Boy, that would be fan-freaking-tastic, wouldn’t it?” That is exactly the implication you are making by comments like that. It’s not just insulting; it’s downright vile. Especially coming from a woman who has probably experienced it in her lifetime. If you look at the statistics, somewhere around 81% of women have experienced it as have around 20% of men.
She used the go-to excuse of “words being taken out of context”, a.k.a. what every celebrity says when they realized that their actual opinions could potentially destroy their livelihood. Next will be the very public mea culpa that tends to follow these events. Then people will forget that she ever said it and life goes on without ever addressing the greater problem again.
There is a reason why people stay quiet. This is the reason. I don’t want to call these people (both men and women can experience this) victims. They are not victims. They are survivors of whatever happened. They moved forward. They suffered in silence, which can even be worse than the harassment or especially any unwanted touches/assault. The minute people can start holding the person who did the act accountable rather than blaming the one who experienced this power play, that is when things change.
At the end of the day, sexual harassment and assaults are about the power a person can have over another with very little to actually do about sex. People become more powerful by taking the power away from another. As long as silence is the only solution for those who suffer, this is going going to get worse. We need to start blaming the right people in these matters than the people who have to feel shame or embarrassment. It doesn’t matter what a person wears. It doesn’t matter if they said something flirtatious. It doesn’t matter what the other person did. They do not deserve it. We have to make sure that this is no longer acceptable behavior. We have to stop looking at the innocent party in this to see what they could have done to cause it. Rather, we need to look at the guilty party to see what is broken in them that makes this all okay.