The unpleasant aroma of victim blaming is following French rugby player Mathieu Bastareaud, who was seriously assaulted by a group of strangers in Wellington during the weekend.
The news this evening featured a representative of the NZRFU, who said that Bastareaud shouldn't have been out by himself, adding that 'we' train our players to stick together.
Bastareaud, who is a big bloke, keeps having his height and weight quoted by the media. I'm not sure what's being implied here: that Bastareaud should have defended himself better, or that large men must expect to be targets of violence? Or that by getting beaten up, Bastareaud has shown he's not tough enough? Said the French coach enigmatically, "He [Bastareaud] is very strong, but at the same time ...".
Victim-blaming, applied to men, has a different emphasis. My brother once got punched in the head on the main street, and the security guard who came to his 'aid' was derisive, telling him he needed to spend more time at the gym - apparently, the mark of a man is having sufficient capacity for violence to duke it out in a street brawl. But, whether it's directed at men or women, the effect of victim-blaming is the same: it implies that a certain level of violence or mistreatment is to be expected in our society, and it's the victim's job to take precautions against this.
Was Bastareaud also wearing a short skirt? Sheesh.