Risk warning VS Victim blaming: Where does one end and the other begin?
Recently in the media, there was a case in the USA where a 16 year old female high school student, (with the intent of obtaining naked pictures of her gay male high school teacher) posed as a 19 year old man on Grindr to 'catfish' him. And after striking up something of an online relationship with the teacher (who had no idea that he was in fact talking to one of his students), she then convinced him to send nude pictures of himself (which he thus did).
The female student then spread the compromising pictures of her teacher around to a handful of other female students at the school. When the situation became public knowledge to the school heads, the teacher lost his job and a court case then ensued (with the teacher trying to bring to rights the student who had cost him his career etc).
In the end, the verdict was not found in his favour (with the female students getting off free as the Judge deemed that at the time, the teachdidn't have a reasonable expectation to picture privacy/security after willingly sending images of himself to someone he barely knew on Grindr etc:
Lately there has been a proliferation in cases (affecting all age groups, genders etc) surrounding people giving nude pictures of themselves to other people, only for them to then have their trust & pictures abused (etc).
But where does risk warning end, and victim blaming begin? Where does personal accountability/responsibility for consequences of actions come in? In what contexts can be discuss risk warning without straying over the line of victim blaming?
A couple of examples of different ways of looking at the case:
1. (Anti-victim blaming stance): What the girls did was very wrong on a number of levels (and the teacher was a victim of them). In this day and age, people should have every right to share nude pictures of themselves without fearing to have that trust abused, or for the law to blame them if their pictures fall into the wrong hands or get abused (etc).
After being manipulated into sending nude pictures, the law should have stood up for the teacher (not least because if we blame the teacher for what happened to him, then we effectively send out a message to other people, that the law is on the side of those who abuse others trust & images etc).
2. (Victim-blaming stance): What the girls did was wrong, but the teacher effectively brought the situation on himself by recklessly sending nude pictures of himself to someone he barely knew. Some people would even go so far as to say, that even sending nude pictures to someone who you do know & trust well, is still very risky!
After taking such foolish risks with his pictures the teacher had no right to expect the law to be on his side (and if we don't hold him accountable for his actions, then we send out the message to encourage other people to foolishly partake in sharing nude pictures of themselves to other people etc).
The obvious next step would be to then advise against people sending nude pictures of themselves to anyone. But by blaming the teacher to some extent for his misfortune, you begin to tread the fine line of victim blaming. Is it even possible to advise against risk taking behaviour without blaming victims to some extent?
If you applied the victim blaming logic to other area's of the law, then a girl who got dressed up in a sexy revealing outfit, went out clubbing on her own, got very drunk, spent all her money and then walked back home alone in a drunken stupor through a dimly lit public city park etc, if that girl then got raped in the park on her way home, then some would argue she is at least in part to blame for her misfortune.
The problem with this stance though is that it then begins to reinforce a broader mindset that:
a. By not taking more measures to avoid/deter/protect against such an assault, she effectively "brought" the attack upon herself (and so is partly to "blame" for what happened).
b. By "bringing" the attack upon herself, she was effectively "asking" for it (which in turn lessens the severity of actions of the attacker as the attacked has now been effectively coaxed into their wrongdoing).
c. So someone who "brings" such assaults upon themselves is not only partly guilty, they should thus not expect the justice system to punish the offender so harshly on their behalf.
In certain cultures where this sort of mindset has become particularly prevalent, legal cases can sometimes become so warped, that despite being a victim of assault, the victim is blamed to such an extent for the attack that they experienced, that either the attacker is left of free, or the victim even finds themself being punished for what happened to them!
So if victim blaming mindsets get too out of hand, crimes start to become (socially & legally) justified. However, there is also no denying that the world is a dangerous place full of dubious individuals etc (and that in light of this reality, its only sensible to try and reduce personal risks). But if a discussion of avoiding risks occurs around any context of a worst case scenario (such as the teacher with his nude pictures getting out among students, or the drunk party girl who got assaulted in the park etc), such conversations rapidly run the risk of becoming victim blaming discussions.
So, How is possible to warn of risks without blaming a victim/s to some extent (because an enormous amount of victims of crime also serve as an real life examples of risk taking turned out bad)?
To what extent can we discuss (and thus expect) people to take appropriate measures to be more accountable for and protective of their personal safety (without likewise socially reducing the severity of the crimes that occur when people fail to protect themselves adequately)?
What is an adequate level of taking safe measures for ones personal protection (in the Grindr pics teacher case, the party girl rape scenario or other cases), And, Is a crime less severe in nature if the victim failed to take basic measures to protect themself against it from occurring?
That is a particularly tough question.
Thank you for reading this OP (and I appreciate any input on the matter).
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Risk warning VS Victim blaming watch
- Thread Starter
- 05-03-2018 16:53