Victim Blaming

Victim-Blaming Isn't Just a "Woman's Issue"

Recently, a San Francisco bartender was assaulted with a hammer by an Uber driver and woke up in the hospital. While this horrific event is adding to the discussion about the new tech transport companies that have sprung up in the past 2 or so years, there is another issue at hand here: Victim blaming.

The article I read discussed potential lawsuits and liability of the companies that hire these drivers, but what stayed with me were some of the comments on the story. The passenger used the UberX in San Francisco with friends, but remembered nothing of the evening or the ensuing trauma when he awoke in the hospital with his head bashed in. He risks losing an eye due to the attack. This struck me as such a randomly terrible event that I assumed most people would empathize with the victim. Surprisingly, however, I found that there were many people who didn’t.

Something happened to provoke the driver.

That bartender looks like a UFC fighter.

Sounds more like somebody had a genuine reason to plonk that big husky bartender on the head.

All of this victim-blaming and the accompanying language is exactly what rape victims experience when going public with their experiences. His strong appearance invalidates this assault because he looks tough and strong.

She was dressed like a slut. Why didn’t she protect herself?

He provoked the driver is equivalent to she was asking for it.

I will never understand people who automatically assume a victim (of any crime) is lying when there are no facts to prove such assumptions. So many people can’t possibly have personally experienced being wrongfully accused of a crime before. Therefore, I doubt the assumptions typically come from personal experience.

Knee-jerk reactions that question the victim are not only harmful to the victims, but to our society as well. After all, where is the incentive to stop hurting people when society automatically sides with the perpetrator?

Micaela Gardner

"Aging Gracefully" ≠ Never Changing


There is something wrong with the way we look at women aging. On a feminist website, there’s an article titled “Meryl Streep, 1979 and Now, Same Dress.”

My first thought was “I love Meryl Streep! She’s so talented and classy and…” Then, I did a double take. The only line in the “story” besides the two pictures of her in the dress was “She is gorgeous!”

Look, I love Meryl Streep. She’s considered one of the most talented actors of all time. My problem has nothing to do with her. The problem lies in the idea that women should be able to fit in dresses worn over 30 years ago, and feel comfortable.

This isn’t a new idea. Many women have dreams of fitting in their wedding dresses for their 10th+ wedding anniversary. Such absurdly high standards have been internalized by our society so deeply that we don’t ordinarily question them.

Besides the issue of weight, which wearing the same dress is indicative of maintaining, there is also the concept of women not otherwise aging. We expect our celebrities to remain stuck in a time capsule. Yet, when they get plastic surgery there are scolding articles written. If they don’t choose to get plastic surgery there are different scolding articles written.

Essentially, it is a losing battle because women will always be seen, first and foremost, as visually appealing ornaments. Even in the case of one of the most renowned actors of all time, whose beauty is not the reason behind her fame, but exists nonetheless. Recently, a pro-women website decides that the most amazing aspect of her personhood is the fact that she can still wear a 35-year-old dress.

Greatness comes from pure talent, not a dress size. Meryl Streep is an amazing woman. But not because of her dress size.

Micaela Gardner

'Yes Means Yes': How the New Rule May Impact Rape Convictions

In case you haven’t yet heard, the state of California recently adopted a “Yes Means Yes” law. The law is supposed to counteract the allegedly frivolous rape accusations as some women abuse the present “No Means No” policy. While presumably well-intentioned, this new policy helps set a precedent for what most can only assume will be a plethora of complex suits and cases in relation to this already sticky (pun unintended) subject.

The Rule Itself…

Perhaps a bit ambitious, the new rule is designed in an attempt to define precisely what does and does not constitute consensual sex. On the one hand, given the fact that these cases typically boil down to the testimony of the only two parties present, this is clearly something that needs to be addressed. However, no matter how clearly these guidelines are defined, it will still likely boil down to the testimony of said parties. Thus, the law merely adds an additional element by which the male can defend himself against a rape allegation.

Is That a Bad Thing?

Absolutely not! Of course, men should be allowed to defend themselves against frivolous allegations, in the most efficient manner possible. However, we have entered murky waters. While this new policy does point out that someone who is drugged or under the influence cannot possibly give consent, it also states that consent can be nonverbal, which is baffling to say the least.

“Lawmakers say consent can be nonverbal, and universities with similar policies have outlined examples as a nod of the head or moving in closer to the person.” ~ABC News

Though such cues are sometimes the case, this opens up a massive gray area that leaves a young, horny, often inebriated young male in a position to determine what various non-verbal cues mean. The rule is geared towards college campuses…and yes, I know, not all college males fit the profile. In addition, the law allows males to act on the perception of said cues. Given the fact that verbal “consent” has remained an issue for centuries, one can only imagine what these trials will entail once the specifics of nonverbal cues are introduced. Will women be asked if they smiled with their eyes, or leaned in too close to a man so as to give the “wrong impression?” Looks like it…

The Bottom Line…

Though apparently a step in a direction that will create a dialog around this topic, it seems the law has done little more than complicate an already complicated issue. Nonverbal cues are indeed a reliable source for many things; nevertheless, in the case of sexual assault, the last thing we need is another method for sexual predators to assert, “She wanted it.”

Venus L

Scarlett Letter

21st Century Scarlet Letter


Last week, a story came out regarding a teen who after attending a Florida school for 3 days after moving from Oregon was punished in a disrespectful way for violating the dress code she didn’t yet know about.

She wore a skirt that was considered too short, and she was taken to the nurse’s office right after first period, and was forced to wear the “shame suit.”

The shame suit is a huge, neon green shirt that reads “Dress Code Violation” across the front and baggy red athletic pants. The 15 year-old was not offered the option to go home and change and was instead, forced to wear this outfit, which the school openly admits is used to embarrass and publicly humiliate students who violate the dress code.

Dress codes are commonplace and make sense. While they are abused in a manner as to police women’s bodies in an unfair way, the point of this story has nothing to do with whether or not the code was violated. Rather than allowing the student to go change and fix the problem in a reasonable way, the school has instituted a cruel punishment that far outweighs the violation itself, even acknowledging that the code is based on a shaming system.

Once again, the idea that women’s bodies are something to be controlled and feared is reinforced. A terrible message is sent to this student as well as the rest of the student body (no pun intended) that it is okay to shame women for what they wear. I wonder how often the male students are forced to wear the shame suit?

We are always talking about women’s twisted relationships with their bodies as a society. Unfortunately, this story is another confirmation that our institutions do nothing to help, and, in this case, actually worsen the situation. The teenage years are formative and the relationship a teen has with her body is already a complicated one. A body is nothing to be ashamed of. Although what are considered appropriate outfits for appropriate times do exist, the outfit forced upon this girl was not appropriate.

Makes me wonder if The Scarlet Letter is assigned reading at this high school, because it seems that the faculty needs to brush up on their reading.

Student Forced to Wear ‘Shame Suit’ for Dress Code Violation

Micaela Gardner

Stop Threatening Your Daughters Boyfriends

Stop Threatening Your Daughter’s Boyfriends


It’s a very common occurrence, when a girl starts dating a guy, brother or uncle will threaten the man with, “If you ever hurt her…” and then describe some sort of very specific and oftentimes creative punishment to scare him off from ever harming her, psychologically or physically.

I have no doubt in my mind this is an entirely well-intentioned act. After all, who wants a loved one hurt; especially, someone you have nurtured and taken care of?

Unfortunately, this philosophy only reinforces patriarchal notions that are harmful to men and women. Although it is perfectly natural to feel protective over someone you love, this feeling also makes it a man’s responsibility to take care of and protect the girl, merely because she is female. Women are more vulnerable. However, if anything, a woman should be raised to believe she can protect herself, and set her own boundaries without a male authority figure dictating for her.

If anyone (male or female) hurts someone you love (male or female) then it is your problem too, merely because you love them and because you are compassionate. It’s true, people should be able to ask for help, always, from people they love, although this doesn’t necessarily mean they always get it. On the other hand, threatening violence from the offset with someone who wants to court your daughter is patronizing, rather silly, an old-fashioned way of thinking. Such thinking also doesn’t make it okay to go hunt someone down vigilante-style, because frankly, how will going to prison help anyone?

Want to protect your daughters? Raise them to be kick-ass, confident women who demand respect and aren’t shy about stating their personal boundaries.

Micaela Gardner

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