Monday, 22 June 2009

Victim blaming extended to blokes

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.

10 comments:

Cactus Kate said...

I think the inference is that he picked the fight. Which may be why he's not flying home with the rest of the team.

Heather D.P-A from Tv1 will find the answers.

portia said...

??!?!! I didn't get that from any of the coverage I read. Can you point to a article or a quote?

Anna said...

No - the thing that irked me comprehensively was the TV3 coverage - the commentator who said the guy wasn't smart for being out on his own at night, and that NZ players are taught to stick together. I found it a bit ALAC.

portia said...

Sorry, my question was directed to Cactus Kate. I agree that the coverage in the papers has smacked of victim-blaming. I haven't read anything suggesting he picked the fight.

Anna said...

Beg your pardon - I'm a bit obtuse this morning!

Lyn said...

I heard somewhere that men are far more likely than women to be the victims of random street violence - certainly when I lived in Edinburgh at the foot of Leith walk (AKA heroin central) the guys at my place of work would never walk me home, while I used to wander blithely at all hours and never experienced any issues. It seems in New Zealand that simply being a man walking around looking a certain way (tall and strong, weedy and white, brown - you name it) can buy trouble without any provocation at all. Setting aside the various politics of male identity, I agree with Anna on this - it's more than a bit ALAC.

George said...

While I very rarely fear sexual violence, there are many times and many places where I fear assault.

The strange thing is that until someone points it out, I don't usually think anything of it.

Anna said...

I quite frequently fear for the males I know when they go out at night - my partner, brothers and father have all been assaulted, and some of the assaults have been serious. This has possibly made me a bit paranoid!

That's not to say that men are more at risk of violence than women necessarily, but I think the patterns of violence are difference - eg, women are more at risk in the home.

The thing that bothers me about this case is that, by implying the guy should have defended himself better, it also hints that the ability to be violent (even if only in self-defence) is in some way a 'natural' part of masculinity, or ought to be. And, of course, our focus should be on eliminating violence, not making sure that men (or anyone else) are better equipped to fend it off.

Cactus Kate said...

And the winner is.....not Portia.

Hugh said...

Apparently it was all made up:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/2537865/Mathieu-Bastareaud-lie-Graham-Henry-philosophical

I suppose that doesn't make any difference for the issues raised here, though.