Thursday, 26 March 2015

Victim Blaming: The Dark Forest Dichotomy. 26.03.15

I've had no end of problems with the 'anti-victim-blaming' crusaders. I'm talking about those people who believe that teaching women how to reduce risks, identify danger signs, or defend themselves is 'victim blaming', because it could be turned around to vilify existing victims. And yes, it could and sometimes it does, by assholes; but it doesn't have to. Abusus non tollit usum: abuse does not take away use. Anything can be misused if people want to misuse it; it doesn't make the thing itself a bad thing. By that kind of logic, we ought to be banning spoons because they can be used to gouge eyes out.

I have seen a lot of people get hurt. I've been hurt myself. It's bloody horrible. So if there are any steps I can take to stop other people getting hurt, I bloody well will. I will always prioritize prevention of new victims over sparing the feelings of existing victims.

I occasionally get attacked in public or private for my views. One of my most persistent attackers, who unfortunately had got to know too much about my private life, came at me with a scenario involving a dark forest and my dog.

"So you know that the forest is dangerous, but your dog is lost in there. Do you still go?"
Err, that'd be a yes, with bells on.
"So then it's your FAULT if you get raped?!?!?"

As logical leaps go, that one kinda lacks the logic. No, of course it's not my fault if someone commits a crime against me. The fault stays with the criminal. Nothing can change that.

The whole thing is a false dichotomy. From her point of view, my choices apparently were limited to these:
  1. Go into the dark forest without knowing the dangers, inevitably get assaulted, and not feel bad about it afterwards because I couldn't have seen it coming.
  2. Go into the dark forest knowing the dangers, inevitably get assaulted, and feel bad about it afterwards.
Glossing over the level of stupidity built into option 1 (I have only ever met one person who could get assaulted and genuinely not care, and I wouldn't wish on anyone the level of abuse she'd gone through to reach that state), the entire dichotomy completely ignores the multitude of other choices.

I look at the same problem and see it completely differently. My choices are:
  1. Go into the dark forest without knowing the dangers, and possibly get assaulted.
  2. Go into the dark forest knowing the dangers, carrying my gigantic maglite that doubles as a whacking tool, a couple of knives*, and most probably my small ax, ideally accompanied by my gorilla-est friend, and either not get assaulted, and/or possibly leave some metalwork in my would-be assaulter's body. (*We're not allowed guns here.)
If I'm aware of the dangers, I can plan ahead of time and do my best to protect myself. If I'm unaware of the dangers, I may be caught without sufficient resources. Lack of awareness makes me more likely to become a victim. To me, it's freakin' obvious. How the hell could she fail to see this? Then it dawned on me: this particular woman, like many other anti-victim-blamers, is also anti-gun, anti-knives, and generally anti-violence. She not only doesn't approve of the resources I would resort to in order to protect myself, but, if she could have her way, she would see me deprived of them.

The real issue here isn't victims getting blamed. The real issue is that victims have the genuine right to blame her and all those like her for wanting to strip them of all right and ability to ensure their safety. If you do your damned best to strip me of all equalisers, and indeed, of the permission to defend myself (zero tolerance schools, anyone?) and I come to harm, I've got a goddamn right to blame YOU.

In order to dodge responsibility these people need to try to convince themselves and the world at large that violence is unpredictable and impossible to defend against. Of course they resent anyone who points out that there are ways we can assess and reduce our risk. They are ethically opposed to the best methods for risk reduction. You can't very well tell me what dangers I might encounter AND tell me I don't have the right to take the best steps to defend myself; not without me turning around and telling you where you can shove your ideology, anyway.

I don't think this is a conscious process, by the way. I don't believe there is a large conspiracy designed to further weaken the weak. What I believe is that once you start lying to yourself about how reality works, then you're going to have to keep making bigger and more absurd lies to protect the first one. If you demonise the tools (guns, knives, use of force) for risk reduction, then internal logic will dictate that you'll have to demonise risk assessments down the line.

Violence-phobia is the bug in the code. All ideas and ideals stemming from that are designed to work around the bug. If we ever managed to eradicate violence from society, that may not be a problem. Until then, however, any theories based on ignoring the truths about violence won't help any of us.

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