Blame Culture, Slut Shaming & Caitlin Moran


By Cate Sevilla

Blame Culture can take many shapes, and claim many victims. As Jeanne-Claire Morley examined last week, blame culture resulted in the death of Jacintha Saldanha, and the ruined careers of Mel Greig and Michael Christian in what is now known as the "royal phone call hoax". 

But more commonly, Blame Culture is society's attitude towards victims of rape and sexual assault. Like with Slut Shaming, the assumption is that the women (or men) who have been attacked or raped must have done something wrong to begin with, which then resulted in the rape or sexual assault. They were too drunk, too high, dressed too sexy, talking too loud, being too aggressive, or in Caitlin Moran's opinion, wearing high heels.

High Heels = An Invitation for Rape

In a merry continuance of October's Feminist Shitstorm, in an interview for the Australian site Mama Mia, journalist Mia Freedman talked to Moran about victim blaming and a very tragic case of an Irish girl who was raped while walking home in Melbourne. Freedman said that she worries about the idea of saying to women “don’t change your behaviour, this is not your problem!”. Moran responded by saying:

'Yes, it’s on that basis that I don’t wear high heels – other than I can’t walk in them – because when I’m lying in bed at night with my husband, I know there’s a woman coming who I could rape and murder, because I can hear her coming up the street in high heels, clack-clack -clack. 

'And I can hear she’s on her own, I can hear what speed she’s coming at, I could plan where to stand to grab her or an ambush. And every time I hear her I think, “Fuck, you’re just alerting every fucking nutter to where you are now. And [that it’s a concern] that’s not right.'

Oh, wonderful, Caitlin.

The RHUL Feminism Society wrote a brilliant response to Moran statement, explaining victim blaming and how it's comments like Moran's that continue to make victim blaming a "normal part of society". 

Like the writer of that piece, I freely admit I used to quite like Moran and that I loved How To Be A Woman. And while we've established that our feminist icons can't be perfect, this really has crossed some sort of Feminist Icon line for me.

According to Moran, it's okay for Tina Fey to look sexy in photoshoots, but because Moran's kind of feminism is "very much focused on looking scruffy and rough as shit" and because she can't walk in heels, if the rest of us think that our kind of feminism does involve wearing high heels and daring to walk home alone in them, with each step we're basically begging rapists to come out and play.

Does Caitlin Moran simply not think before she speaks (or tweets)?!

The Shaming of The 'Sluts'

In the same vein, "blogger and entertainer" Jenna Marbles recently posted a video on YouTube called "Things I Don't Understand About Girls 2: Sluts Edition", examining questions she has "for sluts". Let's all just take that in for a moment.

I'll let you watch the video for yourself to hear all of Marbles' super intellectual thoughts about said "sluts", but I think it's more important is to pay attention to the magnificent Franchesca Leigh of "Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls" fame. Leigh posted an incredibly brave and insightful video in response to Marbles on the how slut shaming becomes victim blaming:

Firstly, how brave and amazing is Franchesca?

Secondly, AMEN. Amen to everything she has said, the way she said it, and for not simply attacking Jenna Marbles - that would have been far too easy. What's not easy, is revealing your own personal experiences with rape, thus opening yourself up to the kind of backlash and shaming which the entire discussion is based on.

What we need are more women like Franchesca speaking up and other women backing her up. What we need less of, are feminist "icons" like Caitlin Moran saying she doesn't give a shit about women of colour, and that if you're wearing high heels and walking home at night you'll probably get raped.

Image via How To Be A Woman

POSTED IN: NEWS
Tue, 18 Dec 2012 15:03 (GMT+00)
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