Buried this for a long time because I am having a lot of trouble polishing this concept but I’ve seen a recent resurgence in anti-slut-shaming whatevers online and I’m going to rush this series to help sort out this issue, before lots of girls decide to join y’alls in your hallucinatory world where real rapists can be fended off with catchy slogans.
Concept introduced to me by Jason Pargin.
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I. Definition and Examples
Blame is an accusation leveled against a person for some undesirable situation (whether true or untrue). Blame implies guilt; that the person has done something wrong and should be punished for it. For example, if a thief broke into your house and stole your stuff, he is to blame for the crime.
Responsibility is an obligation for someone who has the ability to prevent some undesirable situation, or to bring about a desirable situation. Someone can only be held responsible if they have the ability to take action. For example, if a thief broke into your house and stole your stuff because you didn’t lock your door, you wouldn’t go to jail for it. You didn’t commit a crime. But you will still bear the consequences of your irresponsibility. If he is caught, you might be inconvenienced by the legal process of prosecuting him. If he isn’t caught, say goodbye to your stuff.
Another example: Terrorists are to blame for 9/11 because they bombed the towers. The US government is partly responsible for 9/11 because they created international policies that inadvertently made it easier for terrorist groups to form in the Middle East.
Another example you won’t like: Rapists are to blame for rape because they committed the rape. Victims who voluntarily put themselves in vulnerable situations are responsible for their own rape because they had the choice not to, and they did not make that choice.
The purpose of outlining responsibility is not to assign fault but to understand what actions are necessary to prevent the situation from happening (again). The alternative is to keep getting your stuff stolen, keep getting your citizens killed, keep getting raped all the time, because the world is cruel and life is unfair.