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Blame or Empowerment?

In a 2011 interview, TV Presenter Eamonn Holmes was criticised by women's groups for mentioning that he hopes a rape victim now takes taxis (The Telegraph posted 27 October 2011, accessed 30 September 2017). He was heavily accused of "victim blaming".

Criticism included:-
  • People look to the actions of the rape survivor, instead of blaming the perpetrator.
  • This meant that it was not clear that women have the right to live their lives without fear of rape.
However, an ITV spokeswoman said that in no way was Holmes suggesting that the rape survivor was to blame. Rather ITV claimed that Holmes interviewed with the utmost care and compassion and he was highlighting safety advice. The spokeswoman also said that the rape survivor was happy with the interview and not offended by the advice of Holmes.

I have not seen the interview, yet I am inclined to believe Holmes and the ITV spokeswoman, although it may well be that he should not have led the interview with highlighting the safety advice. At the start, he could have been present to her horrific asocial experience, present to the fact that she had been through a lot, and to be thankful that she is alive. That the behaviour of the perpetrator was evil.

If this had been my daughter (or my son), I hope this would be my reaction.
Only later could we work on being safer and empowered.
We could also aim to transform society, as many people who suffer do.

So, initially, we must
do our best to be present to the suffering.
Avoid advice or "blame" here.

Then, longer-term I think we need to do two things:-
  1. Empower ourselves. I suggest we work on strategies and skills that will allow us to avoid or win these asocial experiences. See here, here, here, here, here. At this stage, it is not about blame, but rather about empowerment!
  2. Change society so that there are less perpetrators of violence. Especially see the entry on educating men on Inner Game and Outer Game

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Further thoughts:-

Yes, I too believe women have the right to live their life without fear of rape. Men too.
But surely it would be naive to not realise that women and men are raped, and that any fear is therefore understandable? For example, the worst fear of a man I knew was going to prison and being raped.
We also need to understand that fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Fear can be a gift. It can alert us to impending asocial violence, allowing us to extract ourselves or to more quickly act decisively.

I see some similarity between asocial violence and nature survival situations.
The will-to-live is very important, yet skills and strategies can help.
No need to blame any survivor.
But, longer term, we can work on where we have the most power to effect change. It is difficult to control nature or the creation of bad people. Surely our greatest power is in creating change in ourselves. Get ourselves better prepared for whatever life throws at us!

How about emphasising responsibility rather than blame?
Or in the case of the survivor, as already suggested, empowerment?


In this type of incident, blame seems to have three targets:-
  1. The survivor.
  2. The person who highlights safety advice to the survivor. 
  3. The perpetrator.
But, if we must blame, how about blaming society?


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Resources:-
Also see:-

Political Correctness [PC1]

Skirting Around [PC3]

Dress Codes [PC4]

Excessive Political Correctness [PC5]

Sexual Consent & Harassment

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