Victim-Blaming Judge May Get Benched

In 2011, a Toronto police constable named Michael Sanguinetti addressed the issue of campus rape at a York University safety forum. During the forum, Sanguinetti interrupted a higher ranking officer to tell those in attendance “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this- however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized”*. Three years later in Alberta, Canada in 2014, a federal court judge named Robin Camp asked a nineteen year old woman who was raped over a bathroom sink during a house party why she couldn’t just “keep her knees together?” On the subject of sex with young women in general, Camp also stated “young wom[e]n want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk.” Now in 2016, Camp is rightfully in some hot water.
The rapist in this case was ruled not guilty, but since then the verdict has been overturned on appeal. Despite the overturn, it seems like Canada, much like the US, is still infested with unempathetic men in power who perpetuate rape culture. The continual allowance of these kinds of comments say something significant about our culture: no matter what we do, we still blame women for being raped.
When I say “rape culture” I do not mean that we are a society that necessarily condones rape or believes that rape is good. However, what rape culture does mean is that our society normalizes rape- we make excuses for it happening, blame survivors for being victimized, and invalidate women because they acted or dressed in a certain way IE. “she was asking for it dressed like that”.
I know many of you might say, well maybe if the victim wasn’t drunk or tried to “keep her knees together” this wouldn’t have happened. This kind of thinking is in line with, “if the victim tried harder, she wouldn’t have been raped”, rather than “maybe that man shouldn’t have tried raping anyone in general”. Every time you promote changes to a woman’s behavior, what you’re really saying is “make sure he rapes a different woman.” There will always be someone more drunk, dressed more revealing, and more vulnerable than you are. That person does not deserve to be attacked any more than you do.
Though not much information is known about the particular details of the crime itself, it was implied that both the accused and the victim were drunk at the time of the rape. Our culture makes it clear that, for men, being drunk is an excuse to do anything while for women, being drunk excuses anything done to us. Comments like Camp’s regarding a victim’s sobriety at the time of their rape is similar to arguments made well before Camp was a judge, and that will likely be made long after he is a judge. To those that insist that being intoxicated is just asking to get raped, or that wearing revealing clothes is an invitation, Let me ask you this: if a bank was robbed after being left unlocked, would it still be the robbers fault? Absolutely. Because the robber took advantage of a situation and took something that wasn’t theirs, which I believe is still classified as a crime.
According to CNN reporters AJ WIllingham and Carma Hassan, since Camp’s outrageously offensive comments, he has publicly apologized and undergone sensitivity training. But frankly, I’m not interested in Camp’s apologies. Whether he is sincerely sorry or not, the damage has been done and he’s perpetuated the idea that it’s ok for us (men in particular) to make these comments about rape and other forms of sexual assault. This is more than one comment made by one ignorant judge. This is a gleaming example that the people who are meant to protect us, may still blame us, continuing the belief that rapists are not at fault for the crimes they commit.  Remember the next time you think to suggest that a woman should have acted differently to avoid her rape, you are telling any victim (who will statistically likely be in that room with you) that being raped was their fault. Remember the next time you think to suggest that a woman should have acted differently to avoid rape, you are encouraging the predators in that room.
* After Sanguinetti’s disgusting comment, women in Toronto organized a peaceful march that is now known as SlutWalk. SlutWalks happen all over Canada and the United States. To learn more about them you can go to