Are We Bullying The 'Victim-Shamers'?

Are We Bullying The 'Victim-Shamers'?
Instagram/@gabbycvdouglas/Teen Vogue

2017. The year of “what is done in the dark will come to light”. Sexual harassment claims—some dating several decades back—are coming out in droves and it’s garnering all sorts of reactions. Did y’all peep what Uma Thurman said about Harvey Weinstein? Whew!

All in all, this has been a really good thing. Bringing attention to ANY SORT OF MISTREATMENT OR ABUSE is something to be recognized and even celebrated. 

But as I was reading some social media dialogue between Olympic gymnasts (and medalists) Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas a couple of weeks back, I had a thought.

First, a brief rundown.

USA Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman is yet another victim of sexual harassment. On November 17, she shared this:

In response, Gabby Douglas tweet (the tweet has been deleted since) this:

“However it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy.”

“Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”

And, in response to that, Simone tweeted this:

And boy, did that set off a Twitter (and media) firestorm! So much to the point that Gabby made an apology for what she said.

Let me say this before getting to my main point. I am a survivor of molestation, sexual assault and date rape. So yes, my sympathy—and empathy—go out to any person who is the victim of harassment or assault.

At the same time, I kept reading what Gabby said and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. She basically shared that in her opinion, modesty is important. That’s…offensive?

I don’t know Gabby personally, but I do think it’s important to put on record that she has also since come forward about being molested by one of the Olympic team doctors. She clearly shared her point of view even as a woman who was a victim herself.

And so yes, I can’t help but to wonder if we’ve gotten to a place where unless someone shares our point of view, we’re going to social media pressure them into doing it.

Aly made her stance. Respected.

Gabby made hers. Not respected.

Simone made hers. Respected.

Gabby was so attacked that she rescinded her point and apologized. Even though, yes, a woman should be able to wear whatever she wants AND yes, doing that can entice the wrong crowd. Both are valid points. More importantly, each are a person’s opinion.

Gabby didn’t say that if a woman wears whatever she wants and is harassed or assaulted that she deserves it (that’s ridiculous and she addressed this very point in her apology). She basically said that some guys are jerks and will think they can take advantage of you based on what you have on.

Let’s not act like visual stimulation isn’t relevant: PORN, anyone?

I dunno. It just kind of bothers me that, more and more, we’re getting to a point of not really hearing each other but feeling like, “Unless you totally agree with me or you’re saying EXACTLY what I’m saying, you’re wrong and should be shut down.”

Really. Isn’t that its own (not so) subtle form of bullying?

And isn’t that ironic?

This is a sensitive time as we’re dealing with sensitive issues. No doubt about that. But if we want our voices to be heard and respected, I think it’s important to extend the same courtesy to others. 

Some things are right and wrong. Many other things are simply another person’s perspective. We all need to remember there's a difference between the two.

I hope we’re all more open to hearing different points of view.

I hope that we don’t participate in victim-shaming—and— I hope that we're not bullying people who aren’t “wrong” but just don’t see things exactly like we do.

Again, just a thought.

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