Self-Defense is Not Victim Blaming

I came across a link on my Facebook feed of a page showing pictures of women being photographed with the objects they carry to defend themselves. My first response was to note how poor the items pictured were for self-defense. But then I came across something:

She believes the objects they’re holding represent a “larger reality of victim blaming”.


“These loaded objects on key chains where trinkets should be really do portray how women are expected to always be on guard to protect themselves…when the rapists should not be raping,” she said.

Self-defense isn’t victim blaming, it’s simply being prepared for a potential life threatening situation. While I agree that rapists shouldn’t be raping the fact of the matter is the universe is a cruel place and only grants us the ability to control our own actions. That means we must prepare ourselves for situations created by other people. Rape isn’t the only scenario where one may have to defend themselves. Assaults, muggings, burglaries, attempted murders, and an extensive list of other violent crimes are all situations one can find themselves in that were created by somebody else. Having a means of self-defense is no different than keeping a first-aid kit in your vehicle. Life happens and sometimes it requires the application of bandages.

Victim blaming can only exist when there is a victim. Telling somebody to have a means of self-defense, not to walk down a dark alley alone on the bad side of town at night, wear a seat belt, and lock their doors at night are not instances of victim blaming because no victim exists. When victim blaming comes into play is after a crime has been perpetrated. If you tell a rape victim they were at fault for being raped because they didn’t carry a gun then you are victim blaming. The victim wasn’t at fault for the crime. Only the person who initiated the aggression holds any culpability.

Having a means of self-defense is an acknowledgement that bad people exist. It’s also an acknowledgement that you cannot control their actions but can take measures to increase your odds of resisting them. Victim blaming is the belief that a person is somehow responsible for somebody else choosing to attack them.