As I was biking home the other night, I was struck by the parallels between bike vs car collisions & sexual assault.
- They are both absolutely horrific.
- In both cases, the wrong response is to blame the victim: “She shouldn’t have been wearing such a short skirt/have gotten so drunk/have let it get to that stage” or “He should have been wearing a helmet/watching where he was going/staying in the bike lane.” In both cases, a lot of that victim-blaming is incorrect as well as just tactless & offensive.
- In both cases, there’s a massive systemic privilege granted and usually unacknowledged to one party, the sexual assailant or the motor vehicle operator. Acknowledging that not all sexual assailants are male, there’s a devastatingly thorough message to men in our culture that women are good for no more than being sexual objects. And for cars, there’s an assumption that everyone drives as their primary transportation, and our infrastructure, laws, and norms reinforce that automotive hegemony.
- There’s a repulsive strain of “they deserved it” whispered in the aftermath of both cases. See #2.
Of course they’re different things, but I would encourage you to keep an eye out for such oppressive victim-blaming when it crops up and speak up to weed it out.