I’m not even gonna try and not swear in this post because this entire thing with Carrie’s DMC in the 401 show is so fucking dumb I can’t even begin to wrap my head around what is going on. People are so damn wrapped around this “victim blaming” crap that you see it wherever you fucking go and in…
Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so sorry you’ve been through a crappy time but I’m so glad you’re aware that I’m so behind you and in trying to help.
Before I say anything regarding this post, I want to make it clear that I have been subscribed to both Lex and Carrie for years, and I like and respect both of them immensely. I admire the fact that Carrie was trying to bring attention to a very serious issue and that she had nothing but good intentions.
That being said, the way Carrie worded the message she was trying to convey was harmful. I’m not saying she did it maliciously. Obviously she wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. If anything, she was trying to do the right thing and let people know that it is okay to say no to unwanted pressure. However, the fact remains that a lot of people who saw the interview were hurt by her comment. Victims of rape and abuse were really terribly upset by it, and there is no way to refute that or say it’s irrelevant to the issue. The intent behind Carrie’s comment doesn’t matter. We learn from infancy that if we hurt someone, even if we didn’t mean to, it’s our responsibility to apologize to them. Carrie has apologized, and that’s great. I’m glad she recognized that her language was harmful and addressed it.
But I’d also like to point out the fact that, when Lex calmly addressed Carrie’s mistake and asked her to apologize (in a completely civil manner), a lot of people turned on Lex, accusing her of attacking Carrie, or of having some personal vendetta against her, which is ridiculous. Lex was nothing but patient and polite in all of her conversations about this situation. I’ve seen a lot of tweets and Tumblr posts talking about people “attacking” Carrie, when that’s not what’s going on at all. It’s not attacking someone to point out that they made a mistake and said something that was very damaging. Explaining to someone that they did or said something harmful is not the same as labeling them a bad person, nor is it an attempt to invalidate their good intentions, which a lot of people apparently think it is. But it is so, so important to address those things, even from your idols. It’s more harmful to overlook something problematic like that and pretend it doesn’t matter just because it came from someone you like/admire.
OP has said that we have a responsibility to keep ourselves safe, and this is (to an extent) a valid point. There are measures people can take to reduce their risk of assault or abuse. But there are a lot of extraneous factors involved and every situation is different. It is true that you can avoid a lot of potentially dangerous scenarios, but the video in which Carrie made the comment specifically centers around abuse that may occur in a relationship, a situation in which people usually feel safe. They might find it hard to say no to a partner because they don’t want to disappoint them, or anger them, or they’re afraid their partner will leave them, or they’re under threat of injury if they don’t comply. It could be a matter of low self-esteem caused by emotional abuse or their partner could be manipulating or coercing them. We don’t know. Regardless, Carrie’s comment, even if it’s not how she meant it, implied that if you don’t say no in that situation, you lack self-respect, which isn’t true. A lot of victims of abuse were really hurt and upset by this comment. And their feelings are most important here. Carrie was trying to speak out in favor of people who have been abused, and clearly she cares about this issue, so shouldn’t the victims’ needs and feelings be the first priority in this situation?
Victim-blaming is not “crap.” It’s a very real, very pervasive problem and it’s extremely harmful to people who have been through something as horrible as abuse. It’s also important to realize that victim-blaming does NOT have to be intentional to occur. It’s not about directly, purposefully placing blame on the victims; any language that implies that someone’s abuse is in any way their fault is victim-blaming. As OP pointed out, abuse, assault, and rape are NEVER anyone’s fault but the perpetrator’s. Ever.
Yes, language is a complicated thing, but that’s not a good excuse when so, SO many people have discussed this topic in depth and managed not to say harmful things in the process. It doesn’t take “thousands of words” to explain something well. You can say a lot in very few words. It just requires more careful consideration of the words you use to talk about it. And if you’re talking about a topic as sensitive as abuse and assault, you really should be putting every single thing you say into careful consideration before you say it anyways. Especially because, as OP points out, it’s very easy to misinterpret someone else’s language if it’s not worded well. As I’ve said, no one thinks Carrie was intentionally placing blame on victims or trying to hurt anyone. It is very clear that she was only trying to help. And pretty much everyone has said something harmful or hurtful before. This is all a learning process, and people will make mistakes. But it’s important for everyone to recognize when they’ve done or said something problematic, address it properly, and avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Spot on, thank you.