The Personal is Political

This is a blog where I will be spouting out all of my personal political arguments, thoughts and beliefs. I encourage interaction and you're more than welcome to submit or ask questions. I identify as a feminist and most of my personal philosophies are built around social justice concepts. If you want to jump right to stuff I've written myself check the "the personal is politic" tag. Creative Commons License
The Personal is Political by Ragen Ashlie Roberts is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Posts tagged "victim blaming"




Its not your body. Its a seperate body with its own limbs organs and DNA. Its not you! It was your body when you chose to spread your legs and it was your body when you chose not to protect yourself and it was still your body when you chose not to get the morning after pill if you were raped or made a mistake. Were all those oppurtunities not enough for you? 

Deny people the morning after pill.

Shame them for not using the morning after pill.

Have no idea how rape affects people.

Bask in smug ignorance.

Is the fetus using my body and my organs to grow and develop? Does the fetus require the continual, non-stop usage of my body and my organs to grow and develop? Does the fetus require the usage of my body and my organs to be born?  Since the answer to all of these questions is YES then it IS my body.  My body is what’s being used by that fetus and NOBODY no person, no fetus, no thing of any sort has the right to use my body without my consent.  If I do not fully and freely consent without any sort of coercion to the use of my body, no matter what the situation is, then I have the right to do whatever is necessary to stop my body from being used in ways I do not want.  Pretty fucking simple.

Awhile back I posted the bioware article about gamer privilege in reference to DragonAge2 and it’s whole same-sex relationships option on my facebook page along with the Dr. Nerdlove post about straight male privilege in nerddom and had a discussion about it with a number of friends in the resultant threads.  The threads involved a number of male gamers who I personally like and respect and who generally like and respect me (at the very least we are friends who do game together or have gamed together in the past without incident).  These men are people who I would believe are not overtly sexist or misogynistic in any way and who are at least mildly aware of their own privilege so I was really bothered when they started arguing with me about the article - namely by defending the jerky male behavior many female gamers face with the excuse of “social awkwardness.”  I pointed out things like microagression and othering and the fact that while there are some people who are genuinely accepting of women in nerdery there are far more people who are outright shitty or at the very least unwelcoming and rude but I only just now, over a month after the fact, realized what the real problem with those threads actually was - victim blaming.  

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trigger warning.

fuck. this. whole. thread.

see also: K.














Shekina Walters, a 21 year old woman visiting from Jamaica, went shopping in Barbados only to get followed, teased & taunted at by the locals because of her size. She cried and hid away into a clothing store for an hour to avoid the crowds. LINK

I read this thinking it couldn’t be real. I’m not one to be outraged at how cruel people can be. I just can’t figure out why so many people cared that a fat chick was walking down the street. Cared enough to chase her down the street and take pictures? How uneventful does your life have to be for you to be an adult chasing another down the street for no reason? You so desperately want her to feel like shit that you devote time to it?

Not to mention it’s a bunch of black women ridiculing another black woman. To the rest of the world, they all look equally ridiculous.

So confused.

This is baffling human behavior.

Why the fuck was she wearing that though? She clearly wanted some type of attention, unfortunately she didn’t foresee that it would backfire.

I understand that bullying someone, calling them names, is incredibly wrong. The way she was treated was not justifiable at all, BUT. WHAT THE FUCK IS SHE WEARING?
I understand that you should love your body, accept your body and be confident.

But there’s a such thing called, “Being classy” Appropriateness. This attire was a complete opposite of that. Dressing the way she dressed in the picture, is not even classy with people of “normal” weight. You’d look like a hooker. In this case, an obese hooker.

Though it is not right to taunt someone, she did this upon herself. Everything she has on is ill-fitting and inappropriate. People need to learn to how to properly dress themselves along with accepting themselves. 

She should have bought herself a gym membership. There’s no excuse for a 21 year old to look like this.

And I refuse to believe she “hid away” anywhere.

What She Has On Has Nothing to Do With How Rude & Childish The Peoples Actions Were. People Dress Like Clowns Everyday, That Doesn’t Give Other People the Right to tease Them. That’s Just Stupid. Don’t Try to Flip This, The Fact That They Made an Individual Feel Like Shxt is Ridiculous. Maybe That’s What She Feels Comfortable in. Maybe Where She’s From That’s How They Dress. I Understand That She Shouldn’t Be Dressed Like That, But Don’t Put the Blame on Her ON TOP of The Situation that Went Down. That’s Uncalled for.

So basically if a niggas goes into a gun fight with a knife, it’s not his fault?

Gotcha nigga.

Sorry to burst people’s bubbles but she’s drawing attention to herself. You mean to tell me that she couldn’t find something decent to put on. There are plenty of big people in barbados and they know how to dress themselves. I can tell you they do not get laughed at or teased.

Yo man all i got to say is, how did she find a dress that hugged around her midsection so perfectly that it took its shape?

So we allllllll just gon’ ignore that this broad is big as fuck. 


Wait, how did she accumulate that much weight by 21? And why is she wearing what is obviously a club dress in broad daylight?

She had it coming, guys.

She wanted attention, she got attention. Case closed. You don’t wear shit like that saying to yourself “this is so I blend in.” Big women complain ALL THE TIME about how they are constantly bombarded with body image cliches about what they can and cannot wear, so you can’t play the ignorant “how was she supposed to know” while at the same time, “the media makes us feel bad for being fat because of the constant stream of info saying that big people can’t dress sexy lest we get clowned.”

Now, I’m not saying it was proper for people to follow behind her and just clown her all day, that’s childish as fuck, but had she walked past me, I wouldn’t have went out my way to talk shit, but while she was in a 15 foot radius I damn sure would have been making sideways ass comments loudly.

Hey look, rape culture in action!  Now I know we’re not dealing with sexual assault here at all, so you might be curious about how I could tie a woman being harassed for her appearance with rape.  

1) This woman is being harassed like that in those pictures because those people decided that they have a right to comment on her body and her appearance.  Even worse they’ve taken it upon themselves to police her actions - to decide that something she’s doing (in this case walking around in public in a dress) is unacceptable and needs to be punished.*  Rather than accepting her as a legitimate, subjective human being with full rights to her own body and it’s presentation they made her into an object that they have rights to which is one of the many complex issues involved in things like sexual assault and harassment.  Realistically this sort of objectification just doesn’t happen with men, it happens with women because women’s bodies are seen as public objects not private, subjective spaces.

2) Look at all these trolls saying she asked for it!  Sound familiar?!  This idea that she’s dressed that way because she “wanted attention” is disturbing in the extreme.  Maybe she did and maybe she didn’t, we honestly don’t know why she’s wearing that dress.  Maybe it was a gift and wearing it makes her feel good because it makes her think of the person who cared enough about her to give it to her.  Maybe she’s a huge fan of pink and was really excited to find a dress in her favorite color in her size.  Maybe she’s got some body issues and is trying to deal with them and accept herself as she is and wearing the clothing she wants to wear, the clothing she likes to wear is part of her doing that.  Maybe she really did want every single person on that street to look at her as she was walking by and thought this dress would draw that attention.  I don’t know, we can’t know because we can’t ask her and only she knows.  People have their own reasons for doing things and just assuming that you know why is such ridiculous bullshit I can’t even stand it.  

This complex where people ascribe meaning to other’s actions without any legitimate evidence that it’s accurate is another big part of rape culture and it stems from the initial objectification.  That woman is not seen as a person, she’s seen as an object and we all know objects can’t think or talk which means we have no choice but to ascribe meaning to them ourselves - they exist solely to be used by us in whatever way we see fit.  By assuming that they know why she was wearing what she was wearing these people have appropriated her agency, have taken all of her subjective power for themselves and by doing so have provided themselves with acceptable justifications for their unacceptable behaviors.

3) Finally let’s really look at the victim blaming.  They’re actually saying it’s her fault that these people were treating her so poorly.  How can it be her fault?!  This woman did a very simple thing, something literally everyone in the whole world does/has done: she waled down a street wearing clothing.  That’s it, that’s all she did.  If we assume that people are actually responsible for their actions, for the choices that they make then how can she have “made them” harass her like that?  She can’t have, it’s literally not possible.  Every single one of those people made the conscious choice to harass her and the harassment continues even after the fact thanks to these photographs.  The only people who can possibly be responsible for those actions are the individuals who made the choice to take them.  Maybe she did want attention, that doesn’t make it her fault when other people choose to give her attention, it makes it their fault because they are the ones taking the actions.  And even if she did want attention that doesn’t make it acceptable or her fault when she receives horribly negative attention.  Once again, this is one of the most common themes in rape culture.  The victim of the assault is blamed rather than the people doing the assaulting.  They say it was her fault, that she made them do it by her actions which is literally just not possible.  

*At the heart of victim blaming is really the policing that I spoke about earlier in point 1: they’ve decided that something she did was unacceptable and needed to be punished.  It’s not her fault because she “made” them do it (though that is clearly the justification), it’s her fault because she did something she shouldn’t be doing and needed/deserved to be punished for it.  In this instance it’s simply existing in public as a fat woman wearing clothing that draws attention to her body and all the ways it takes up space instead of staying out of the public eye or shamefully hiding herself as best she can by wearing clothing that attempts to blend in.  In sexual assault cases it might be that the person was displaying her sexuality in a way deemed inappropriate, maybe it’s displaying her rights to her own body in a way that’s deemed inappropriate (like walking around alone or wearing revealing clothing) or any other sort of behavior one can imagine that needs to be punished so that she never does it again and that all women learn from the example made of her that if they act like that they will be equally punished.  

TL;DR - This is exactly the kind of stuff that happens in actual cases of sexual assault and the fact that it’s happening here, in a situation that is, on the surface at least, not at all sexual shows two very important things: 1) that we are so deeply enmired in a culture that considers the assault of women’s bodies and selves acceptable that it’s happening even in non-sexual-assault circumstances and 2) that what really goes on in a rape culture and in sexual assault cases isn’t actually about sex at all, it’s about power, policing, and objectification.  

*EDIT* I just wanted to respond to something I’ve seen in the comments.  I’m not saying that this woman is being sexually assaulted here or that the harassment she’s receiving is the “same" as rape and I definitely didn’t mean to imply that.  The harassment she’s receiving is an example of rape culture which is a systemic issue within our society stemming from things like objectification, punitive policing, power imbalances and abuses of that power.  

(via peechingtonmariejust)

Telling women that they should merely abstain from reading and/or participating in YouTube threads—or other places online and offline plagued by unfettered misogyny—is akin to telling women their choices are to tolerate sexual harassment in order to participate in it, or segregate themselves and necessarily limit their opportunities in the public sphere. In addition to unfairly punishing women, that’s also a tacit endorsement of openly expressed misogyny. No matter how authentic the genuine feelings of concern that may motivate such a recommendation, when someone advises a woman to disengage herself from a public space in which misogyny is rampant, one also necessarily, if unintentionally, communicates the message that her contributions to that space are not valuable enough to fight to protect. By slow increments, every unmonitored space thusly becomes uninhabitable by any woman not willing to suffer—and indulge—misogynist bullies.

Melissa McEwan (via greaterthanlapsed)

Yes, yes and yes. I keep saying things like this about game spaces but it applies to all public venues.

(via gamesandtrips)

(via gamesandtrips)



The feminist subject “in the room” hence “brings others down” not only by talking about unhappy topics such as sexism but by exposing how happiness is sustained by erasing the signs of not getting along. […]

My point here would be that feminists are read as being unhappy, such that situations of conflict, violence, and power are read as about the unhappiness of feminists, rather than being what feminists are unhappy about.

Feminist Killjoys (And Other Willful Subjects) by Sara Ahmed

“Drama” (at least in gaming communities) has come to mean any situation of conflict. Since gaming is supposed to be fun, there is supposed to be no conflict. Which rarely means there is no conflict. Mostly it means any conflicts are covered up. Sometimes one gets lucky and finds a group where the members are willing to put in the interpersonal work to resolve conflicts by working out the issues, rather than by trying to shush them up.

A person who is seen as starting drama, male or female, is a drama queen. But as the gendered nature of the insult shows, women are more likely to be accused of being drama queens than men. Women are particularly likely to be seen as starting interpersonal trouble with men, simply by being present and being female. Rather than blaming the poor behavior of sexist men towards women, folks blame the women for being present and thus somehow leading the men into temptation with our sexy voices on Vent asking for the tank to stay in range.

Women in games are the recipients of a lot of sexual advances, which sometimes start out friendly and turn hostile as they are turned down, and other times are pretty hostile from the start. Since a lot of this happens in private channels, it’s not seen by the men not involved in it in the early phases. In this way it’s quite similar to street harassment which is incredibly prevalent, but often unseen by men. All the women gamers I’ve talked to about the issue, which is to say the ones I’m close enough to talk to about some pretty sensitive topics, have some methods for turning down advances without upsetting the interlocutor too much. If you’re a woman, and you game, you have to have some plan for how you’ll deal with unwanted sexual advances, because eventually you’ll get them.

Women try for the most part to deal with this shit privately for a variety of reasons. Partly not to start drama, partly because it’s embarrassing to even talk about this stuff, and partly because we know from bitter past experience it’s our character and behavior that will be put to scrutiny and not the harasser’s.

When women finally bring up the harassment they’ve been dealing with to others in their group, it’s usually in a phase far past the mild and now well into — there’s that word again — drama. The woman mentions the problem when it becomes too much for her to handle any more, when the risk of mentioning is outweighed by risk of putting up with it any longer.

This is where shit gets weird. The woman who mentions the problem is seen as the cause of the problem. It is as though if only she kept quiet and took the harassment in silence, there would be no problem. Rather than confront the possibility that some men are assholes in specific ways towards women, folks would rather shoot the messenger. Or, as we feminists sometimes say, blame the victim.

Thank you, mstashers, for showing me the awesomenss of this tumblr.

(via homunculilith)


[image: a tumblr question submitted anonymously which reads, “Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to walk in bad areas alone, regardless of sex, age, creed, social status, etc. When you’re alone, you’re vulnerable, and more likely to be attacked somehow (sexual assault, being mugged, kidnapped, murdered, etc). There’s power in numbers, and being alone in a bad area brings a higher risk. But that never makes it the victim’s fault. Ever. Do you agree?”]

I received this question and also saw this brought up by nygis who mentioned there is a difference between warnings that perpetuate rape culture and warnings that are common sense and helpful to people.

The answer to these kind of questions isn’t one that I really have. As a crime prevention strategy, telling potential victims to make themselves unavailable to perpetrators sucks. Crime prevention/reduction needs to focus more broadly on improving conditions that foster crime (i.e. poverty, systematic racism, etc). Aside from which, there are really problematic implications with advising people to not be in “bad areas” alone. What do we usually categorize as a bad area? Typically urban, typically where POC live. If our strategy to reduce crime is to avoid areas, then we’re basically washing our hands of the people who live in those areas. Crime occurred? Well, they lived in the bad area so what can you do?

So as a method to reducing crime, I don’t like it. But what about personal safety? Are these kinds of warnings useful then?

When we’re talking about rape, I’m inclined to find them less useful, because they so often are victim-blaming and they focus only on avoiding stranger rape, which we all know is far less likely to occur. If we’re talking about what to tell our children about rape (as the original ask was)—that’s something each parent has control over. We can have meaningful discussion with kids about rape—what “counts” as rape, how do you recognize consent, how can you respect other people’s bodies, etc. Education about rape to your kids (and notice I’m not saying daughters, because we need to be educating everyone about this, regardless of gender) should not begin and end with, “don’t walk alone at night.”

If we’re talking about something like mugging, which is likely to occur while you’re out and probably alone, I see the argument for it. I’m still not sure I totally agree—because victim blaming is not a phenomenon exclusive to rape. Kid gets kidnapped. Where were the parents? Etc. I don’t think we have to toss out any and all warnings to people that could be helpful to their personal safety. But I guess for me I struggle to find the balance between what are helpful warnings and what crosses into victim blaming. What do other people think about it? What constitutes helpful advice vs. unhelpful?


I wanna talk about rape culture for a minute.

I have this white, cis-male, middle class, heterosexual friend. Think of a privilege, and I guarantee you he has it. He’s probably the most bigoted person in my life, and I’m always shaking my head and telling him “I don’t know why I spend time with you”. He’s the kind of guy who thinks that because his best friend is biracial, it exempts him from being racist. He gets legitimately upset at the idea of cutting military spending. He strongly believes that people on welfare are just lazy because of this one person he met one time.

Yeah. He’s that guy. 

Anyways, tonight, he shared his opinions on a “shocking” article he read about how Universities that rely on federal funding are going to have their own hearings in cases of rape and sexual assault, completely independent of any criminal proceedings. Apparently, it’s ridiculous to him that these hearings wouldn’t be held to the same standard of a criminal trial. It’s not “innocent until proven guilty” and there is no judge and no jury. 


This is the rest of that conversation:

Me: Okay, well, the University is allowed to do that. And they fucking should.

Him: But it’s illegal!

Me: No, it’s not. The University is like a business. You can’t go into a Wal Mart and start cussing out the clerk. They’ll ask you to leave. Your freedom of speech protects you from being arrested for cussing in public, but it doesn’t mean you can do it wherever you like. I know for a fact you can get kicked out of the College of Education at UNO if you get a DUI or an MIP.

Him: Oh. Well, I just think that would hurt people who are falsely accused of rape.

Me: Really? When the fuck does that happen? I can tell you ten stories of people whose rapists got away with it, but I can’t think of one where someone went to jail on trumped up rape charges. 

Him: Yeah, but what about at parties? People drink or do drugs and then they don’t know what happened to them, they could just accuse anybody.

Me: Well in a situation like that I think you’d have to start looking at cases individually. Besides, there would be witnesses and other stuff to consider. I hardly think a rape victim would just decide to randomly accuse someone if they truly had no clue.

Him: I just…I just think that’s a dangerous policy to have.

Me: Why? What harm could it do? Are you really planning on going out and raping someone?

Him: No, I just don’t think it’s fair. 

Me: You know what’s not fair? Being raped. Dude, think about all the women in your life who have been raped and not reported it. In an innocent-until-proven-guilty world that relies on physical evidence and discounts women’s testimony, it’s very hard to get a conviction. The least that can be done is to have the University kick them the fuck out. 

Him: But that could really affect someone’s whole life…

Me: Are you kidding? They should be in jail. It should affect their whole life.

Him: I guess. But you know, you keep talking about women being raped, and there are men that get raped, too.

Me: You are absolutely right. And I should have been using more inclusive language. But that doesn’t mean anything I’ve said isn’t true. 

I was really on edge after that part of our conversation. I went to read the article he’d talked about as soon as he left. The article is full of logical fallacies, pompous asshattery, and a general air of pretentiousness. This is the part that made me the most angry:

Where are the professors of literature who will patiently point out that, particularly where erotic desire is involved, intentions can be obscure, passions conflicting, the heart murky and the soul divided?

Seriously? This reeks of victim blaming and mansplaining. The entire last part of the article is the author asking more of these arrogant rhetorical questions that basically amount to “What about due process and free speech and the dignity of the accused?” 

This, folks, is rape culture. For every ONE story you could tell me about an innocent person convicted of rape I could tell you 100 more where the rapists walked free, and another 100 where the rapists weren’t even be tried because survivors can’t or won’t report the crime. But IT’S THE END OF EDUCATION if we acknowledge that our legal system is flawed. In a world where college campuses seem to be infamous for rapes without consequences, I, for one, am thrilled that the universities will be able (or forced, by Title IX policy) to start taking a closer look at these cases. 

(via happyfeminist-deactivated201208)