Susan Patton, author of Marry Smart, Finding the One, is an alumna of Princeton and was recently interviewed in the Daily Princetonian. The following exchange in that interview has provoked outrage:
“Daily Princetonian: You wrote: ‘Please spare me your “blaming the victim” outrage,’ saying that a provocatively dressed drunk woman ‘must bear accountability for what may happen.’ Why does the woman hold the responsibility in the case of rape or sexual assault?
“Susan Patton ’77: The reason is, she is the one most likely to be harmed, so she is the one that needs to take control of the situation. She is that one that needs to take responsibility for herself and for her own safety, and simply not allow herself to come to a point where she is no longer capable of protecting her physical self. The analogy that I would give you is: If you cross the street without looking both ways and a car jumps the light or isn’t paying attention, and you get hit by a car—as a woman or as anybody—and you say, ‘Well I had a green light,’ well yes you did have a green light but that wasn’t enough. So in the same way, a woman who is going to say, ‘Well the man should have recognized that I was drunk and not pushed me beyond the level at which I was happy to engage with him,’ well, you didn’t look both ways. I mean yes, you’re right, a man should act better, men should be more respectful of women, but in the absence of that, and regardless of whether they are or are not, women must take care of themselves.”
Ironically, but very predictably, Patton’s attempt to explain away the outrage over her previous comments has only intensified the sense of outrage. Two hundred Princeton professors signed the following letter that appeared in a subsequent issue of the Daily Princetonian:
“In light of statements (http://dailyprincetonian.com/news/2014/03/qa-susan-patton-77-author-of-marry-smart-advice-for-finding-the-one/) made in a news article in this paper, we wish to inform the students on this campus that we do not believe that their manner of dress or drinking behavior makes them responsible for unwanted sexual contact. It is extremely important that individuals of all genders on a college campus feel comfortable reaching out for help. We, the undersigned faculty, stand behind victims of sexual assault and want them to know that our campus is a place where they have a voice, where they will not be made to feel responsible and where they can find support and justice. If you have been the victim of unwanted sexual contact, under any circumstances, we can help you find the support you need from the campus groups listed below. As academics and members of the Princeton University community, these are the values we embrace. We encourage others to stand with us, for the integrity, health and well-being of all our students.
“To explore campus and community options with a confidential resource, please contact:
“Web address: share.princeton.edu (http://share.princeton.edu)”
A complete list of the faculty who signed the letter can be found at: http://dailyprincetonian.com/opinion/2014/03/letter-to-the-editor-a-faculty-statement-on-sexual-assault/