Coming on the heels of O'Reilly's jackassery blaming a child for his own captivity, which followed quite a flurry of recent articles blaming rape victims for getting themselves raped, now comes, via Pam, the Reverend Charles Sylvestre, convicted of molesting 47 girls over three decades, who blames the girls for seducing him.
When speaking to [Ontario Crown Paul Bailey] of the young girls he molested, Sylvestre talked as though the children conspired to have him abuse them.Like rapists and rape apologists who suggest that rapes happen because of what rape victims are wearing/not wearing, doing/not doing, saying/not saying, drinking, smoking, thinking, and/or implying, Sylvestre believes the girls he molested were responsible for their own victimization. But I bet there won't be nearly as much "Well, maybe those girls should have been more careful about how they sat in their skirts" as there would be for adult victims.
"These girls that came over there every day, they planned it," Sylvestre told Mr. Bailey. "I could hear them talking and they'd come in and sit on a chair and their skirt would be up to their crotch. Well, it was kind of attracting."
When a principal of a school accused Sylvestre of improperly touching the girls, the priest turned the blame on the principal and the little girls. "The principal ... came over and accused me of touching them," Sylvestre told Mr. Bailey. "I said, 'Why are they here? Aren't they supposed to stay in the schoolyard? Get them out of here.'"
That attire can be a justification for sexual abuse is a disgusting suggestion, whether we're talking about a child or an adult victim, but somehow it's deemed appropriate when talking about adult women, because, as opposed to an eight-year-old child, she is presumed to want sex. Time and again, in arguing this issue with people, I have had my assertion that a woman's attire does not matter met with an eye roll or a snort or an exhortation to admit that a woman dressed "a certain way" probably wants to get laid, as if I am being deliberately obtuse about what message is typically being sent by a short skirt and a low-cut blouse. Of course I'm not ignorant of these particular cultural cues. I am, however, intractably resistant to the notion that a woman who wants to get laid is giving explicit consent to anyone who wants to fuck her. I have this crazy notion that a woman has a choice about who gets access to her body, and that men have to respect it. Zany!
It's reminiscent of the scene that all of us have seen played out in bars, clubs, in the office, on the sidewalk, and in countless films in which a provocatively dressed woman refuses the advances of a man who then angrily demands to know why she's dressed "like she wants it" if she doesn't. Naturally, she may very well want "it," but perhaps not from him. The idea appears to be that any man should do—a sentiment also built into the attitude that a provocatively dressed woman shouldn't expect to have the right to choose with whom she has sex.
In the end, blaming a rape victim's attire is no different than Sylvestre's blaming his young victims for attracting him with their hiked-up skirts. He violated them against their will, and there's no excuse. If you believe a woman has the right to choose with whom she has sex, then irrespective of what she's wearing, doing, drinking, or anything else, violating her against her will also has no excuse.
I'll also point out, yet again, that tasking victims with being the gatekeepers of rape and sexual abuse, rather than the perpetrators, is predicated upon the fallacious assumption that any man is capable of such ugliness, given the right circumstances. That's precisely the lie with which rape apologists continually charge feminists who have the temerity to point out that the only thing that causes sexual abuse is sexual abusers. It isn't saying "Only rapists cause rape" that impugns all men. It's saying "How could he help himself when she was dressed like that?"
Enough blaming the victims. Enough.