June 19, 2014

When is it okay to say "I know you feel that you’re a victim... If you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized as frequently"?

Will we ever get back to old-school victim-blaming?

The quote is from Claire McCaskill.

The context is of course nothing anywhere near advising women to take precautions and learn how to defend against sexual assaults, which is why I stripped out the context to expose the abstract concept of demanding that people activate themselves to deflect the offenses of others.

The actual context is Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has talked about products on his TV show but doesn't (he says) authorize the use of his name, his image, or his quotes as these products are marketed. He testified this week at a Senate hearing on weight-loss scams, like green coffee extract, which Dr. Oz called "the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat." Asked "why you need to say this stuff [when] you know it’s not true," Dr. Oz said something inane about challenging the "orthodoxy" of scientifically tested medicine with "alternative medical therapies," which he likened to "the power of prayer." He offered people hope, he insisted, and he said he doesn't make money on the sale of these products:
"I do not endorse any products or receive any money from any products that are sold... I have never allowed my image to be used in any ad."

Claire McCaskill, the Democratic Missouri senator who chaired the hearing, was not having any of that. “I know you feel that you’re a victim,” she said. “If you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized as frequently.”
This hardcore resistance to the plea of victimhood is context-specific for McCaskill, who has vigilantly policed statements about women and rape. Remember, she won reelection in Missouri by demolishing Todd Akin over something inept he said about rape.

42 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

I suppose my views on the topic are not sophisticated, but I make a distinction between:

1. avoiding transferring legal blame for a rape to the victim because of her behavior (most of the time anyway), and

2. Wanting to encourage people (particularly other women) to educate women that high risk behaviors are in fact high risk behaviors. Just because your mother told you to watch how much you drink, party only with other female wingwomen along, always be aware of your surroundings, and don't spread your legs on date 1, doesn't mean it's bad advice.

In fact most of the reasonable advice for dating that is being rejected by the feminist left is actually fairly generic stuff that men could pay attention to as well...

Brando said...

It is always okay to blame a victim if the victim deserves blame. Blame should be doled out as appropriate--if I am 10% responsible for my accident and someone else is 90% responsible, the blame should be properly distributed ("Of course it was mostly the fault of the guy who was driving too fast, but you shouldn't have been crossing the street there either").

The idea that because someone is a "victim"--meaning they've suffered something--they are beyond reproach is mindless.

Where this "don't blame the victim" thing comes from, I think, is general tact--if someone tells you they were just mugged it is poor form to start trying to make them feel bad even if they did bring it on themselves by wandering drunk in a bad neighborhood. It's best to just be sympathetic at that point. But once the discussion comes down to blame, then yes, pass out blame where it is warranted.

Brando said...

As for McCaskill, she was the very fortunate beneficiary of the GOP implosion. They had the chance to take her seat and decided to go with a nominee of the hard right--then got all surprised that he'd rail off on some rape nonsense like an unforced error.

St. George said...

I can't speak to Dr. Oz, but if you go the website of another famed doctor, Andrew Weill, he's selling mundane vitamins...a 30-day supply for $59.99! It's the "Men's Everyday Pack Platinum." ...A $200 a year newsletter on health.."What to buy organic" "Exclusive interactive tools, including puzzles"

And there's Well Juvenon ("a patented combination of alpha-lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine") which Weill asserts is the pill that Readers Digest says "can end aging" One month supply for $40.

It "promotes brain cell function."

Fritz said...

What did Kissinger say about the Iran-Iraq war?

Tank said...

It's ok to blame the victim when they are not the victim.

Who does that remind you of?

Matthew Sablan said...

I think "Don't blame the victim" contorts the word blame. No one "blames" a person for being raped or being mugged. That is clearly on the shoulders of the bad actor.

But, if someone asked me how we can reduce the number of rapes, I would focus on making fewer potential victims as opposed to some feel good nonsense like "teach men rape is bad."

Sure, you might find the occasional person who, on being told victimizing others is bad, will say, "Wow, really? Huh, didn't know that." But, for the most part, it is a low-yield way to stop violent crimes.

In this case, it sounds like the doctor [is he a real doctor?] could use some common sense.

The Drill SGT said...

Brando said...
As for McCaskill, she was the very fortunate beneficiary of the GOP implosion. They had the chance to take her seat and decided to go with a nominee of the hard right--then got all surprised that he'd rail off on some rape nonsense like an unforced error.


I agree with all of that, with the two caveats:

1. the error wasn't that he was 'far right', but that he was inexperienced and not vetted well.
2. what he said (and it was both dumb and wrong) might have gotten a pass from the press if there was a (D) after his name. Lots of big name (D)'s still have careers after hugely ugly statements and actions.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

When is it okay to say "I know you feel that you’re a victim... If you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized as frequently"?

I know this one.

When a woman commits some form of fraud in order to get pregnant and get the man on the hook for child support.

What do I win?

Bruce Hayden said...

When I first saw the blog article, I thought that Ann was talking about the current sexual assault climate at many universities, likely to get much worse under Obama DoE directives.

The basic problem is that the (female) "victims" or "survivors" (as DoE styles them) intentionally put themselves in a position where they are sexually vulnerable, and maybe even, as a result, willingly participate, and then have sex with someone. And, then a couple days or even a year later, the survivor/victim has second thoughts, and charges the other party (invariably male) with sexual assault. The other (usually male) party is then tried by an untrained tribunal often without benefit of counsel, the ability to confront his accuser, and even without the ability to introduce exonerating evidence. He is then found responsible (i.e. guilty) by a preponderance of the (scanty and biased) evidence, and suspended or expelled, which suspension/expulsion often prevents him from attending equivalent schools. There is, of course, no downside by the school for the (inevitably anonymous) complaining party making a false complaint.

What is esp. egregious, in my mind, about the new DoE directive is that it seems to suggest that when both parties are drunk, and regretted sex happens, the inebriation of the female is excused, but not of the male.

I will admit that not all of the incidents of this sort of thing involve women getting drunk, and then having sex, though that appears to be somewhere between somewhat and quite common on college campuses these days. The co-eds, in particular, binge drink on Fri., Sat. nights, and end up on occasion in bed with guys whom they wouldn't otherwise spend time with. And, then binge drink again, the next week, month, etc. The other notable cases also involved women putting themselves in vulnerable positions.

Which is how I get to Ann's title.

pst314 said...

Fraudster Dr Oz posing as a victim?

That reminds me of my experiences in an urban public school: When kids who committed assault or robbery were caught, they and their friends would frequently complain that they were being victimized by "the man".

Peter said...

Within the context of commerce, the idea that it will ever be possible to protect the public against diet scams (and quackery in general) is absurd, as the will to believe will always trump any possible protection.

But within the context of sexual aggression, lies and standards of evidence it's surely just a matter of time before all our lives are on video all the time anyway.

Estragon said...

Of course, Akin only won because there was a third candidate in the race AND McCaskill's PAC ran ads "against" Akin, which gave him the win.

She interfered with the process to pick her challenger, who sunk his own campaign not with ideology but with idiocy.

Job said...

Brando, Akin is no more " hard right" than McCakill is " hard left."

Akin was crushed by 4 factors:

1. He actually tried to answer a question about abortion instead of using the usual platitudes. This is always a mistake.

2. His answer was grossly inarticulate and could be recycled endlessly, sounding worse each time. He used the term "legitimate rape" to mean forcible rape -- not statutory. Awful sound bite for him.

3. The media is on the other side of the issue, even more than on most issues.

4. Akin is an unattractive, old, white man.

SGT Ted said...

The modern woman is a sexist pig for the most part and the overall culture and our schools encourage and promote sexism directed at men as "empowerment".

uffda said...

McCaskill did not win because her opponent was of the " hard right." She won because he was an inept campaigner. A RINO with acute foot-in-mouth would have also gone down.

It's pure vitriol to equate "rape nonsense" with more traditional (Tea Party) values. So, yes, you should be surprised when any conservative candidate, regardless of his degree of "rightness, makes tactically ridiculous statements.

chillblaine said...

This is what passes for big important work in Washington, D.C. The world's greatest deliberative body is hassling a TV personality. Our constituents are too stupid to discern for themselves your wildly hyperbolic diet claims! And Senator McCaskill, preening before the cameras with her designer frames, why couldn't this have been handled with a certified letter?

Tucanae Services said...

I won't say the Dr. is blameless but the Senators remarks are clearly lacking in relevance to the way Advertising, especially TV ads work. Many shows are syndicated and the production company on release has no control over 70% of the ads that appear. Those ads are placed by local stations who themselves shop for buyers of air time. That some fly by night buys time is the stations fault not the producers.

There is an exception of course. Infomericals where the show, the ads and the content are wholly owned by the production company of which the local station gets a percentage for airing the content.

A senator living in a bubble.

paul a'barge said...

Claire is the number 3 example of why suffrage was a huge mistake.

lemondog said...

.......how he brings hope to a hopeless world...

The Second coming?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.



Why do people listen to TV personalities for “solutions” to problems. If Oz wants to advocate for a product he should first test it on himself for an extended period for benefits/side effects.

BTW did Claire get suckered into using it with unsuccessful results?

tim maguire said...

Nobody really objects to victim blaming, but many people pretend to in certain narrow circumstances. If I go on vacation and leave my front door wide open and I get robbed, are people wrong to suggest that next time I lock up? If I leave my keys in my car and it gets stolen, are people wrong to suggest that next time I take my keys with me? (In fact, in many jurisdictions, it is a violation to leave your keys in your car).

None of this excuses the crime or the criminal, but it's a plain fact that I can, through my actions, increase or decrease my chances of being victimized. And because crime drains societal resources, I have an obligation in my own life not to encourage crime.

lemondog said...

Any comments from Oprah on product efficacy?

Michael K said...

"decided to go with a nominee of the hard right"

Too many people assume that social conservatives are "hard right" when they are just social conservatives, and often not very conservative either. Believing in "Young Earth Creationism" is not an indication of the economic views you hold.

Todd Akins worst crime was facilitating the re-election of an idiot like McCaskill.

A lot of errors on Blogger lately.

Anonymous said...

I once strolled home through a bad neighborhood in the dead of night, alone, lost in my thoughts, and oblivious to my surroundings; I was mugged at gunpoint, and robbed of all my money.

I had of course only myself to blame for my foolish, thoughtless behavior, and thought so.

Likewise in the case of young women who, in the company of men--any men--drink themselves drunk or unconscious, or drug themselves high as a kite: if it turns out badly, they have only themselves to blame.

Women who, in such circumstances, refuse to accept any blame or to assume any responsibility, but instead portray themselves as innocent victims, are akin to the insane or the retarded who the law can regard as not responsible for their actions, or at least not answerable for them in a court of law.

Such individuals are often recognized as menaces to society, and dealt with accordingly.

Anthony said...

The cognitive dissonance of our elected officials actually having the bollocks to publicly call out citizens for lying and scamming the public is rather hard to take.

Michael said...

I believe litigation will temper the current hysteria over the alleged "rape culture" in universities. If a man is robbed on campus by a fellow student is the "crime" adjudicated by an untutored tribunal or are the cops called? Why would rape be trivialized by having it be dealt with by students and faculty?

My youngest will be off to college in a year and I am already making him aware of the bizarre approach that colleges are taking toward human sexual relations and the very real danger he runs by dating or screwing lefties of even the mildest variety.

You cannot reasonably deal with people who believe they are athwart the ramparts.

jr565 said...

How is telling someone to be careful blaming the victim. That's what any self defense class will tell you. Be mindful of your surroundings.
If you're driving a Lamborghini in NY and park it on the street of a bad neighborhood and it gets stolen, are you not partially responsible for your car being stolen? People put themselves in situations all the time that make them easy prey for those who would wish to victimize them.

William said...

There's the placebo effect to be considered. If a patient considers Dr. Oz trustworthy and really, truly believes in him, then there's an excellent chance that taking green coffee pills in conjunction with a program of exercise and dietary restraint will help that patient lose weight. There's a difference between rape and seduction much as there is between fraud and salesmanship. If Oz can help Dorothy find her way home, he can also help her drop a few pounds. Lighten up people.

jr565 said...

In regards to Dr Oz, he's going by studies that show that something like green tea helps with weight loss. He might be hyperbolic in touting the effectiveness of green tea extract but it's not like he made up the research.
Which may be true. But then you get someone selling their green tea extract and thy use him talking about green tea extract to push their product, which may in fact be a pos.
I don't see how it's all that different than telling people to eat low carb diets or paleo diets. My guess is, it will work for some and not for others. But it still may be good advice in general.

By the way I took green tea extract for a month and saw no drop in weight.

Scott said...

Keep in mind that there were a huge number of cross-over voters in the GOP primary, and polling data suggests that Akin was nominated largely on the back of Democratic voters. Perfectly legal, but it illustrates why open primaries are such a very bad idea.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jonathan Silber,

"I once strolled home through a bad neighborhood in the dead of night, alone, lost in my thoughts, and oblivious to my surroundings; I was mugged at gunpoint, and robbed of all my money."

Welcome to America, Homeboy, glad to meet ya.

"I had of course only myself to blame for my foolish, thoughtless behavior, and thought so."

Like, when I was a kid getting my ass beat in the ghetto, I didn't know I was supposed to be hard-as-a-rock-and-tough-as-nails right out of the womb, right?

"Likewise in the case of young women who, in the company of men--any men--drink themselves drunk or unconscious, or drug themselves high as a kite: if it turns out badly, they have only themselves to blame."

See, I left the horror that results from the desperation in America's subculture to find it's partially the result of the sociopathic pathologies of the sick larger culture that produced it - I even lived in Europe to see what it produced before us - a culture filled with anxiety where, as you say, no one can ever feel truly safe.

"Women who, in such circumstances, refuse to accept any blame or to assume any responsibility, but instead portray themselves as innocent victims, are akin to the insane or the retarded who the law can regard as not responsible for their actions, or at least not answerable for them in a court of law."

Sharia Law, here we come! "The rapist couldn't control himself, Your Honor, because she fell asleep with a tutu on." That your plea?

"Such individuals are often recognized as menaces to society, and dealt with accordingly."

Stop. Talking.

Brando said...

Fair enough re: Akin being "hard right"--I guess it's more accurate to say he was "religious far right". And it's true that it wasn't so much his politics as his ineptitude that brought him down.

The issue for him was that like many who are strict pro-life he did not want to make an exception for abortion bans where the mother was raped. If you believe abortion is murder, then this is actually a consistent position to take, though you'd have to admit it will make most abortion moderates blanch at the idea of telling someone who's been raped that she still has to carry the child to term (when clearly she had no choice in the matter).

In any event, when asked about this, he could have stayed on message with a response such as "it is my personal belief that abortion is killing, and even something as horrible as a rape cannot justify the killing of an innocent child. But the bigger issue is that right now the abortion laws are so far in the other direction that as a Senator I would support putting abortion laws in the hands of the states, and that is why I think Roe was wrongly decided. But the real issue is my opponent has supported Obamacare and Obama's wasteful stimulus..." That would have been at least semi-competent.

But instead, Akin was so dense to the fact that he needed to appeal to moderates--or at least pro-lifers who were queasy with his stance--and keep the focus on issues that were winners for the GOP in red states like Missouri--that he goes ahead and trots out some junk idea that if a woman is being raped she almost definitely won't get pregnant so it's not an issue.

This is the result of being in the coccoon. A self-aware candidate would not have done that, and handed McCaskill an easy six more years.

The Crack Emcee said...

William,

"There's a difference between rape and seduction much as there is between fraud and salesmanship."

Yeah, that's why he was making the frowny face and saying he wants to be part of the solution - going forward.

I swear, William, his defenders are the biggest and most dangerous dupes in history, never considering the life-and-death dramas playing out where nobody CAN "lighten up" because Dr. Oz promised a miracle on the TV.

There's a REASON he's getting scolded, publicly, by our representative on the TV, William.

Figure it out,...

CatherineM said...

I am glad Dr. Oz was called to the carpet by the Federal Trade Commission. It's people like him that put doubt in medical science that knows medicine/surgery are the cures for cancer not green coffee enemas.

Gifted heart surgeon turned snake oil salesman (his wife is a Reiki master that can cure your aura!).

Steven said...

Right, Dr. Oz doesn't make any money from the sales of snake oil, he makes his money selling advertising time for snake oil.

n.n said...

Life is an exercise in risk management. It is every individual's responsibility, as individuals, with individual interests, to pursue reasonable mitigating actions. However, once a violation has occurred, it then becomes necessary for an individual or society to seek remediation; but, before, the burden of life is upon the individual, except in extraordinary circumstances.

Larry J said...

Since pedestrians have the right of way, in an ideal world, you should be able to step off of any curb without worrying about being stuck by a car.

In an ideal world, you should be able to leave your car doors unlocked and the keys in the car without worrying about it being stolen.

In an ideal world, you should be able to walk through any part of any city at any time, day or night, without fear of being mugged or shot.

In an ideal world, women should be able to do anything, no matter how vulnerable it might make them, without being raped.

Newsflash: We don't live in an ideal world. While no one deserves to be a crime victim and the fault always belongs to the criminal, there are ways to reduce your chances of being a crime victim. There is a percentage of people out there who have bad intent. Simply telling "men not to commit rape" is foolish because the men who are intent on rape don't care what you say. If you're stoned or drunk, you're in poor condition to be aware of threats to your safety and well-being. If you go off with strangers, chances are you'll meet up with a bad person who will do bad things to you. If you go through life oblivious, you're likely to have a rude awakening for this is far from an ideal world.

Bruce Hayden said...

We don't live in an ideal world. While no one deserves to be a crime victim and the fault always belongs to the criminal, there are ways to reduce your chances of being a crime victim. There is a percentage of people out there who have bad intent. Simply telling "men not to commit rape" is foolish because the men who are intent on rape don't care what you say. If you're stoned or drunk, you're in poor condition to be aware of threats to your safety and well-being. If you go off with strangers, chances are you'll meet up with a bad person who will do bad things to you.

The problem with campus sex, in this regard, the co-eds are mostly not going off with bad people with bad things happening to them. They are merely going off with normal guys who react the way that normals guys have reacted in similar situations forever. Part of our courtship is hardwired in us, with the males pushing, and the females resisting, making sure that the guy was worthy. And, we aren't the only species that mates in this way - a lot of females play a bit coy, when faced with a male attempting to mate with them. And, this makes perfect sense given the resources that the males and females each contribute to creating the next generation. In most species, the males' role really stops at the end of copulation. So, the females want to get the best genes they can, and so make the males work for it.

BTW - that this is hard wired into our species is well established. One famous study on gay males conceived right after WWII showed that there was actually a 2x2 matrix of male/female sexual attraction, and male/female sexual strategy for males. And, apparently, the percentage of gay males who have a receptive (vs assertive) female type sexual strategy is higher with gay males, but plenty of gay males have the assertive strategy.

Finally, a book I read maybe a decade ago, Queen Bees and Wannabes (or something like that) points out that a lot of young women (in that case HS and earlier) would rather get drunk and have sex, than do so w/o getting drunk, because in the latter case, they are seen as sluts, and that is worse than being seen as drunkards. After all, a large number of college aged women seem to be occasional drunkards, indicating that the onus there has mostly disappeared. And, yes, males often get a bit drunk too, in order to increase their odds of hooking up. That is likely a lot of why binge drinking has become so popular.

Thomas said...

When a drunk wraps his car around a tree and hurts his head, is it OK to blame the victim of that car crash?

Richard Gould-Saltman said...

St. George: they DO promote brain function, just like the "smart pills" in the old joke; once you've spent that money for them, and you say "Hey, I've been ripped off! These aren't smart pills, they're rabbit droppings!" the seller can say "See!?!? Smarter already!" (This may literally be the oldest joke recorded in a vernacular language, going back as far as 1470 in Poggio's "Facetiae" CLXVI, pretty much the same form as I heard it in 2nd grade in 1963)

David Kramer said...

It is okay when the aggreived party is one of the established victim groups. You know, any Democrat constituency.

David Kramer said...

If you are one of the aggrieved groups or constituents of the Democrat party, to answer the question. As a democrat, you do not have to have a moral line, one can lie as one sees fit. Hypocrisy never enters into the equation.