The Upsetting "Blame the Victim" Mentality in This Week's "Friend or Foe"

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Oct. 14 2009 12:29 PM

The Upsetting "Blame the Victim" Mentality in This Week's "Friend or Foe"

To the DoubleX commenters who were outraged with Lucinda’s "Friend or Foe" column from Monday , and who don’t feel mollified by this morning’s apology : I see where you’re coming from. When I first read Lucinda’s response to the girl who says someone "slipped [her] a mickey" at a concert and then was ditched by her friends, I gave Lucinda the benefit of the doubt. I’ve talked to her before; I like her; I didn’t want to believe she’d be quite this flip about such a troubling tale.

So I reasoned that Lucinda, who is older than you’d think by her impeccable skin, just didn’t know what "slipped me a mickey" meant. It was this line, I thought, that revealed her ignorance:

Advertisement

Yes, overnights at the E.R. are the opposite of fun. So are disastrous drug trips. (I had one in my twenties, which pretty much sealed my fate as an illegal-substance ninny.)

This was not a disastrous drug trip. This was someone being drugged. To conflate the two is to imply that a woman getting drugged at a bar is as responsible for that outcome as one who willingly sneaks into a bathroom stall to snort a line. That couldn’t be what Lucinda meant, right?

But on rereading Lucinda’s response, and seeing that ending I must have glossed over the first time-"I’d wager a guess that [your friends] think you’re lying about the mickey, tales of which are sometimes used as a cover for irresponsible behavior. (Only you know the truth.)"-I realized what our commenters already knew: that Lucinda understood the girl’s claim that she was drugged. She just didn’t buy it.

In her apology this morning, Lucinda writes:

I was struck by how many readers seemed to be hearing echoes of date rape or sexual abuse in 'Drugged’s’ story. I have to admit, I did not think of that at the time. There is no evidence in her letter that she was a victim of a sex crime.

But the echoes of date rape or sexual abuse aren’t in the confines of the story of what happened that night. The echoes are in Lucinda’s answer, and the implication that the girl should take responsibility for ending up unconscious on the sidewalk. That’s the same sort of "blame the victim" mentality we’re so used to hearing and striking down when it comes to rape.

Maybe Lucinda’s right that this girl is using being drugged as an excuse for letting her night get so out of hand. (As she and others point out, it’s hard to make sense of the friends being angry with her in the morning otherwise.) But, as Mary Carmichael writes on Newsweek today , the fact that some women lie about being drugged doesn’t mean that Lucinda should assume this one woman is lying, or that women are never drugged, "any more than the murkiness of sexual assault statistics and the occasional false accusation means that women are never raped."

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 7:13 PM Deadly Advice When it comes to Ebola, ignore American public opinion: It’s ignorant and misinformed about the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.