Last week, The Michigan Daily featured an article discussing the debate over additional lighting in the Oxford area (Police, students talk poor lighting in wake of crimes, 01/26/2011). Included in this article were comments from Lt. Mark St. Amour of the Ann Arbor Police Department on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime. While it’s true that there are techniques that can help one evade being targeted — like walking in groups — Lt. St. Amour went beyond this and uses victim blaming in regards to sexual assault.
Victim blaming is when one puts the responsibility of avoiding sexual assault on the survivor, rather than the perpetrator, by saying that the survivor could have and should have done something to avoid the assault. Victim blaming is saying that when a woman was wearing revealing clothes or was flirting, she was asking for it.
In the case of Lt. St. Amour, blame was placed on female alcohol consumption. He specifically states, “Sexual assaults — a lot of them that I read — involve alcohol, so FEMALES, watch your alcohol.”
This statement is unacceptable and never should have been printed. It singles women out as being responsible for sexual assaults, when it’s NEVER the survivor’s fault. Why shouldn’t men also watch how much alcohol they consume? Are they impervious to misfortune while drunk?
Lt. St. Amour’s remarks are offensive to not only sexual assault survivors, but those who support survivors and advocate for an end to sexual violence. In a campus and city that prides itself on its safety and inclusiveness, comments such as these shouldn’t be said, much less printed.
Nicole Corrigan is an LSA freshman.