Can we make victim-blaming socially unacceptable?


#1

I figure that:

  1. Victim-blaming is pervasive, especially when it comes to police brutality.

  2. Victim-blaming is used to excuse and enable and sometimes to threaten rape, bashings, bullying, police brutality, and various other forms of violence.

  3. Victim-blaming often reinforces arguments based on transmisogyny, racism, ableism, etc.

  4. Victim-blaming can trigger other victims.

  5. Victim-blaming is usually wrong.

  6. Victim-blaming can deflect from actually examining other factors.

So all told, I think avoiding victim-blaming is a good idea. Not perfect.

I don’t think public discourse would lose if victim-blaming were socially unacceptable in almost any case. Or at least if rushing to blame the victim, and ignoring any [other] contributors, instead of first considering all [other] contributors. But then I can’t really understand how we get to the point that although the n-word is rightly socially unacceptable, we get bans on Huck Finn and arguments over whether this or that other word is a slur. So I can’t really predict where this would go.

I do think public discourse would benefit because avoiding victim-blaming is a principle that we can apply pretty consistently, where even checking privilege can be hard to apply at all consistently [as in the debate over whether trans womyn ever had male privilege, what it means to have male privilege, wheher being beaten up for being a girl is male privilege, and as a corollary, whether a cis girl or cis boy who was assumed to be a trans girl can have male privilege].

So that said, do you think we should try to make victim-blaming socially unacceptable? do you think enough of us can find others to get together to make victim-blaming socially unacceptable? if so, how?

P.S. As to censorship, I’m against that. This isn’t censorship. This is more like making the blood libel socially unacceptable. That doesn’t depend on censorship.


#2

Well it is important enough to be listed in the rules here (#1 even!)

http://bbs.boingboing.net/faq

So clearly under the “why is there a no elephant sign here?” doctrine, it must have been a persistent problem.

I think victim blaming is somewhat complex, as it is tied into a few other concepts:

  1. Privilege/power, specifically acknowledgement of privilege, aka “don’t punch down”. I suspect this is the stumbling block for a lot of folks.

  2. Definition of “victim”, as in the old adage “everyone is fighting a hard battle” – which implies everyone is a victim to some degree, of something. So it becomes a who-is-a-greater-victim argument.

  3. Responsibility, e.g. it is hard to argue a policeman is a victim of being shot when that’s a part of their job description, something they train for and have expertise in, and is a normal part of the risks they take on when they perform their duty.

But in general, I’d say we should at least err on the side of the dead people as clear victims. That’s the low-hanging fruit here. Those people who are dead paid the ultimate price, and can’t even tell their side of the story. That’s the “can we make this socially unacceptable” part I can get behind. The dead don’t get a voice, and that’s fundamentally unfair.

To be honest, I had never really heard of the victim blaming thing before I began interacting with BBS. But I now believe it’s an important rule and should be enforced.


#3

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