There is something incredibly wrong with everyone who espouses the following view: If you ask questions as to why the victim was in a particular situation or question the level of responsibility of the victim, you are already seen as shifting the blame away from the perpetrator and onto the victim. You need education.
In her original view, Serena reiterates that she is in no way blaming the victim. Yet people seem so excited to claim that she did.
Even though Serena's comments were insensitive and misinformed, you cannot fault someone for asking questions and hoping that all people are able to be free in their decisions while also being safe in their decisions. She of course goes a little further and suggests that her parents were being irresponsible, but once again, there is no instance of blame on either the girl or the parents. That was what I gleaned from her perspective. Practice some responsibility and you will be less likely to be in such a situation in the future. Though it may be a stretch, she may in fact be providing band-aid solutions through suggesting (insensitive) precaution.
Is it really wrong to ask why she was at a party with a lot of alcohol? Is Serena actually placing any sort of blame on the victim with such a question/statement? It seems she may be placing responsibility on the victim for placing herself in an untenable situation, but responsibility (for one's own safety) is much different from blame (for a crime). Based off the comments alone, Serena focus attention completely away from the rapists and onto the victim, but attention - like responsibility - is not the same as blame.
Similarly, not everyone has the same level of guard as they go about their lives. This may be influenced by a variety of factors:
As an article on thedailybeast.com mentions:
As African-Americans, and even more so as African-American women, we are routinely forced to deal with the harsh reality that when bad things happen to black people, no one cares. Equally important: when bad things happen to black people, no one is brought to justice as a result. Need proof? Just Google the names Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. It took six weeks and massive protests around the country for the man who killed an unarmed black teenager to even get arrested. When was the last time the case of a missing or murdered black woman was heavily featured on the news and spoken about at length in the media? Black women do go missing, and we do get murdered every day. We also get raped. And so what is deeply instilled in many of us by our parents is the rule that you must have your wits about you at all times or face the real risk ending up dead.
You’re taught that you must take responsibility for your own wellbeing with the clear understanding that absolutely no one else is going to do it for you. This has always been the unspoken rule of the inner city and hardcore streets—places like Compton, California, where Venus and Serena were born. There, they saw as very young children how easy it was to lose your life at a moment’s notice by simply wearing the wrong color, using the wrong hand sign, or by just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nevertheless, this is conjecture, but it does provide a potential, alternative way of looking at someone else's (insensitive) perspective.
Regardless of anyone's viewpoint though or what actually happened, for every individual's future well-being and safety, we need to ask ourselves how did this situation arise to begin with? Howe can we prevent rapes to begin with? How can we prevent crimes or even the thoughts of acting on crimes to begin with? But questions such as these questions are very difficult to answer as we live our own lives, often finding ourselves confronted with environments with a high likelihood of criminality or sketchy behavior; as a result, our attention generally may shift to what we can do to protect ourselves and exercise precaution, which is a good and sometimes necessary way to steer our attention, since ultimately, while one is confronted with such a situation, the most we can control (to some extent) is where we physically place ourselves. If you are a boy or girl, man or woman, and you are with a lot of people you do not entirely trust, you need to evaluate the risk of you being in that situation more often than not, and should at least retain the ability to put your guard up and leave the situation if need be.
We should be able to be safe no matter where we go. We should be able to trust every other human being that they will give us both appropriate space and respect. Yet as humans, living biological creatures, we have to understand that there is risk involved in everything that we do. We also need to understand that each one of us is easily influenced by everything around us, and by everything that goes inside of us. And while we are not to blame if something bad happens to us, we should take necessary precautions (as with anything) to be more on the safe side if we can be. This is why we wear condoms, why we wear helmets, why we don't tell children to go out at night, why we watch our children at the playground, why we press food producers for greater transparency, why we apply for unemployment when we are jobless, why we wear safety equipment and/or train for thousands of hours if we decide to climb a mountain, this is why people feel hesitation about living in a violent neighborhood, this is why we don't get plastered with alcohol unless we are with the right company, this is why we prosecute rapists, this is why we teach the possibility of rape. To be safer, happier, and healthier. Until the world becomes a utopia for human beings, it is foolish to try to shame someone who asks questions such as Serena as if she was blaming the victim; shame her for the insensitivity of her comments and the fact that she suggests irresponsibility on the parts of the victims' parents when she really had no idea = fine and maybe necessary, but never ever jump to conclusions about or exaggerate someone's perspective, especially if you are out to correct or shame them. In no way is Serena saying "NEVER GO OUT, NEVER DRINK ALCOHOL, BE SUPER SCARED OF MEN", because clearly Serena does go out, Serena drinks, and Serena enjoys her mens. Through exaggeration and assumption, you may further or start to create an overcorrection culture which can be an inaccurate reflection of reality, which in turn, can create new problems.
Ultimately though, all of us are spectators in something from which we are so far removed. We actually do not know the fine details of all that had happened. All we know is that an innocent young female had been recklessly taken advantage of when she shouldn't have been. But, as others' in this thread have alluded to, we ask ourselves how this could have happened. We try to empathize with everyone involved even when we don't know the details and when we would like to prevent these situations in the future; with the rapists, most of us have little to empathize with because most of us do not understand how we could take advantage of someone like that, but with the girl, some of us know what it is like to be more careful, leave a situation once it starts to feel unsafe/sketchy, and/or frame our lives to find certain situations so unattractive that we don't find ourselves in them in the first place. This is also why attorneys were/are? still looking into the causes of how such a dangerous environment arose, after the convictions occurred. Until we can figure out how to prevent such occurrences from arising at all, we try to take necessary precautions, and I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to highlight those precautions. It is in no way shifting blame onto the victim. It is shifting responsibility not of the crime but of one's body, but that is an entirely different argument altogether.
To be fair, my own view on this is evolving as I go. (I also apologize for the wild grammar of this post). Perhaps the issue here may partially be a question of semantics and the understanding of our own views. Perhaps what people really do get upset about is where people place their attention. Even though we should take precautions, we truly should
be able to feel safe when we are with other people. And regardless of the reality, how we should
feel maybe should be our focus.