According to a new study conducted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, one in five Canadians think that a woman provokes sexual assault if she is drunk and 11 per cent believe she encourages sexual assault when she wears a short skirt.
But in my opinion, the most shocking finding was that younger adults, aged 18 to 34, are more likely than any other age group to blame victims. Nearly one-quarter said women may provoke sexual assault by being drunk and 17 per cent believe women invite assaults by wearing short skirts.
These antiquated attitudes are not held by the old-fashioned or aging demographic but by younger Canadians who, rather than denouncing rape or questioning why some men sexually assault women, actually believe women may be complicit in their own attack. WHY?
Is it because of “you know you want it” songs like Robin Thicke’s summer anthem “Blurred Lines”, whose lyrics have been described as “a little rapey” and whose video features near naked women parading for fully clothed men?
Or is it because of the ongoing glamourizing and making fun of sexual assault online, most recently brought to light in the #FBrape campaign which highlighted pages built to promote rape culture?
Or maybe it’s because the language of rape has become common place, with college and high school students often proclaiming “I raped that exam” or “I got raped by that midterm.”
Or have our attitudes been at a stand still because we aren’t brave enough to talk about sexual assault or ask different questions? As a country we’ve been able to shift thinking about the social acceptability of drinking and driving. We’ve made monumental strides on attitudes about smoking. There is no reason why we can’t begin to have brave conversations that challenge assumptions and end victim blaming.