She Asked For It: Survey Finds Women Blame Victims for Rape

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how women daring to wear bikinis  [insert sarcasm here] on the sandy beaches of Goa, India were being blamed for the rise in rapes in the popular tourist spot.

As you may recall, this ludicrous accusation was made by Pamela Mascarhenas, Goa’s deputy director of tourism – a woman. Some were surprised by such comments from a woman, but as it turns out, women blaming rape victims is not uncommon.

In fact, an online study of 1,061 Londoners between the ages of 18 and 50 called “Wake Up to Rape” found that more than half of women surveyed believed rape victims should take some responsibility for what happened. Of these women, almost three quarters believed that if a victim got into bed with the assailant before the attack they should accept some responsibility and one-third blamed victims who dressed provocatively or had gone back to the attacker’s house for a drink, according to BBC News.

Dancing provocatively, flirting, or wearing revealing clothing made one in eight women blame victims. Twenty-four percent of women between 18 and 24 also said that wearing a short skirt, accepting a drink, or having a conversation with the rapist made victims partly responsible for being attacked later.

I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again: A woman is never responsible for being raped, never. I know this is something I will have to say again and again because the “she asked for it” excuses are a common tactic rapists use to absolve themselves from blame and women use to distance themselves from the idea that it could just as easily have happened to them.

I wouldn’t have worn such a revealing dress, women think. I wouldn’t have danced like that or let him buy me a drink. I wouldn’t have agreed to go back to his apartment.

But who decides which skirt is too short or what dance moves are too provocative?

Does accepting a drink from someone give that person license to rape you later? Is an invitation for a night cap really code for let me violate you?

Blaming women for being raped for any of these reasons assumes women deserve what happened to them. It assumes that they could have prevented it or stopped it from happening by acting differently or changing a decision they made, but this is not the case.

No woman deserves to be raped nor does she choose to have that happen to her – that decision rests solely on the shoulders of the assailant who attacks her.  A woman makes the decision to survive. Some are not so lucky.

Unfortunately, many who do survive are not reporting attacks. The UK study found that more than one in 10 people (20%) were unsure whether they would report being raped to the police because most (55%) were too embarrassed or ashamed to do so. 

That’s because that’s exactly what victim-blaming does – it silences victims for fear of embarrassment and/or shame while completely absolving rapists from blame or punishment.

The result – more rapists, more attacks, more victim-blaming, and more women feeling too ashamed and embarrassed to report their crimes. And so the vicious cycle continues.

How do you think we could go about breaking this cycle?

We could start by redirecting blame to the people who really deserve it – rapists.

Thanks to fellow Care2 blogger Robin Marty for bringing this study to my attention!

iStockphoto -;contentBody


Peggy B
Peggy B3 months ago

Oh for every woman who said they asked for it were to find out for themselves.....

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad4 years ago

No surprise here as women, are many of times, just plain haters!

Tara A.
Tara A4 years ago

I have an idea, the next time a woman wants to report a rape have female cops take the reports and not the male cops who drool while asking you, did he touch your breast? did you enjoy it? Yes cops do this. Also lets stop the whole victim thing. That right there would keep me from reporting a rape. I will not be a victim and if being raped makes me one, then I am keeping my mouth shutt. A woman is violated when she is raped, she is again violated by the court system who wants her to tell her story over and over again. No wonder no one says anything.

Beverly Morgan
Past Member 4 years ago

The international war on women continues. We are blamed for everything and yet a man can beat us, rape us, kill us and somehow it would be justified because "we asked for it." As long as this mentality continues things will never get better.

Vicky N.
Vicky N.7 years ago

"a mentality exists that says: a woman who assumes freedoms normally restricted to a man (like going out alone at night) and is raped is doing the same thing as a woman who goes out in the rain without an umbrella and catches a cold. Both are considered responsible for what happens to them. That men will rape is taken to be a legitimized given, part of nature, like rain or snow. The view reflects a massive abdication of responsibility for rape on the part of men."

"If a woman's body is regarded as a valued commodity by men, then of course, if you leave a valued commodity where it can be taken, it's just human nature for men to take it. "

"If I use bad judgement and fail to read the small print in a contract and later get taken advantage of "screwed" (or "fucked over") then I deserve what I get; bad judgement makes me liable. Analogously, if a woman trusts a man and goes to his apartment, or accepts a ride hitchhiking, or goes out on a date and is raped, she's a dupe and deserves what she gets.

"if a woman who is raped is judged attractive by men, and particularly if she dresses to look attractive, then the mentality exists that she attacked him with her weapon so, of course, he counter-attacked with his. "

Kathleen Q.
Kathleen Q.7 years ago

petition for victim's dignity act. it's a crime against humanity to victim blame during trial. please sign.

Michael Cozens
Michael Cozens7 years ago

I guess some women, like many people, don't want to admit that horrible things can happen to them that are completely out of their control. Therefore, the people such things do happen to must have done something to bring them on. It also means they don't have a responsibility to help those who have been struck by a random disaster.

It's like Pat Robertson blaming Haitians for the earthquake - irrational madness.

christina t.
christina t7 years ago

No means No! How can we blame the woman. What about the recent case here in the Algarve of a 70th old woman being raped in her house with her husband in the other room. Rape is about power, mens power not the lenght of your skirt.

Sonia V.
Sonia V7 years ago

The fact that people think that dressing certain way is equivalent to asking for it, demonstrate that we still have a lot to do for our society to be equal. A men in a tight shirt or with his zipper open will never lead to rape. I do not agree the way our girls dress today but that does not justify abusive behaviour.

Paul Diamond
Paul Diamond7 years ago

Rape is not about sex. Rape is not about desire or intimacy. Rape is about violence. Rape is about dominance. Rape is misogyny at its worst.
I am a man. If a woman walks by me dressed provocatively I will be aroused. If a woman walks by me nearly, or even all, naked I will, to use a vulgarity, get a rock hard 'boner.' I will be excited, I will desire.
However, that does not entitle me to rape. That in no way permits me to force myself on another.
In our society any sexual activity carries all kinds of stigma. Sin only lies in hurting another unnecessarily. All else is just so much invented nonsense.
Anthropologists have noted that in cultures where nudity and sexual mores were looser the incidents of rape and violence against women were virtually nonexistent.