Policing of Women’s Bodies and Habits: Drinking as Related to Violence Against Women

Emma Watson delivered a speech at the UN headquarters in New York about gender discrimation, and was anonymously threatened online with the leak of nude photographs of her. This policing of women’s bodies and actions is found across the world: in France with Politics of the Veil, in strict laws regarding conduct and dress in Saudi Arabia, and right here in America on college campuses. In the search for Hannah Graham, despite the media’s overall picture of her as an innocent victim, the fact that she had been drinking was repeatedly brought up by most major media outlets. Repeatedly in situations where violence has been committed against a young woman, their potential intoxication is called into question, or condemned. Even in the seemingly harmless warning “You need to be careful when you go out to parties, make sure you watch how much you drink, there are dangerous people out there” people are telling me how to act to prevent potential violence committed against me. Even worse, the people who explicitly say it. http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/10/sexual_assault_and_drinking_teach_women_the_connection.single.html

This kind of attitude and language enforces the idea that the habits of the victim need to change in order to prevent the actions of the perpetrator. As one blogger represented this unreasonable attitude with: “imagine you live in a high-crime neighborhood. You would like it to be less dangerous. But every time you ask for policy changes to make it safer, you just get suggestions for how you could change your behavior. Imagine that, when you went to the city council to request more police for your block, you got a helpful lecture about how much safer you would be if you just stayed inside your home and never went out. Imagine that, when you got mugged and called the police, you got a lecture from them about how you shouldn’t be leaving the house to run errands, because a lot of people get robbed that way, and don’t you know that you’re taking up valuable police resources with your irresponsible behavior?”

Self-responsibility is absolutely important, but the reality is that many women have been stalked, violated sexually, and harmed when alcohol is never involved. Telling women to modify how they live their lives,(especially when they probably are very aware of the dangers they face and are forced modify their habits already), does nothing at all to solve the larger problem.



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