Jane Velez-Mitchell: ‘Wearing a Bikini on Spring Break is Asking for Rape’

Listen. I didn’t ask for HLN to be on when I turned on my television after work today. And I didn’t want Jane Velez-Mitchell’s awful show, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, to be on either, mishandling the topic of rape.

The “issue” at hand was the number of young women who have been raped in Daytona Beach while on Spring Break. The tacky, insensitive graphic on the bottom of the screen read: “SPRING BREAK RAPES!” in screeching italics. The sorry-ass-excuse of a “debate” going on behind the graphics was far worse.

Given that I have apparently been the sole outraged Tweeter of this show (believe me – I searched for it), and am probably one of five people in the country watching it this evening, let me fill you in on the highlights (or lowlights):

  • A female psychologist (the most educated-sounding of the three on the panel) explains that women have a hard time coming forth with a rape crime because it is “the only crime where you are forced to participate, and you feel the shame of participating.” While “participate” is probably not the best verb choice, it’s still a good stab at meaningful insight.
  • Host Jane Velez-Mitchell’s response? Word for word: “Listen, I don’t like to blame the victim, BUT…” As she goes on to – seriously – say, “If you’re scantily-clad, wearing nothing but a skimpy bikini, I mean…You’re making yourself vulnerable.” (OH. MY. GOD.) Then she claims that everyone has to “respect the gavel” as she holds one up and goes to commercial break. (Since I don’t watch, ever, I’m assuming this is some kind of gimmick.)
  • Random ex-frat-boy-looking dude on the panel’s response after the commercial break? He was going to say the same thing Jane said, but did not out of fear that he’d be attacked because, as he says with dripping sarcasm…Are you ready? “These women are SUPPOSEDLY wearing this ‘burka’ of shame…” (Oh. And then my conscience imploded.) REALLY, dude?! A BURKA of shame? You somehow managed to offend both rape survivors and Muslim women who wear the burka in one short sentence. Kudos.
  • Psychologist woman shakes her head. Old random dude makes generic “Where are the parents?” argument, and everyone snickers at him for thinking parents would ever be present on Spring Break.
  • Final verdict from Jane: Her life experience as a “recovering alcoholic” makes her credible, of course, on the subject of drunken black-outs. And since you CAN “function” and yet “not remember” what you did the night before, this makes for a very fuzzy rape crime case. And again, she says it:”I’m the LAST person to blame the victim, but.” And then something that’s supposed to sound like logical thought spews out of her mouth.
  • Final verdict from ex-frat boy dude: “Listen, we can’t stop rapists from committing rape. But we can reduce the number of rapes that occur by women not walking around scantily-clad and drinking so much on Spring Break.” (Um…excuse me?! Who the hell bred this jackass?!)

Conclusively, ladies, beware: If you go on Spring Break and drink, wear a bikini, go to the beach, travel without your parents, or do anything that you would normally do while on Spring Break – you are partially to blame for being raped if this tragically occurs. Well, at least according to Ms. Jane “Send Females Back 70 years” Velez-Mitchell and her Broski.

I realize that this is opening myself up to a debate from men and women alike, with opinions of either “females should not be blamed for their rape” (my point of view) or “well, there are certain cases where they’re kind of asking for it.” Believe me, I’ve heard every argument that could ever enrage me on the subject of rape, but the point I’m making here is how tactlessly, insultingly, and plain disgustingly the topic was approached on this show. That’s the thing.

She ended the debate by saying, “Thank you panel! Great insight.” And then her producers cut to the newest, sensational story about a kidnapped woman. Oh, and a Jesse James/Sandra Bullock update. Such a sensitive and meaningful handling of the subject of rape, Jane. You should really be proud of yourself. (See, bro? That’s how you do sarcasm.)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Excuse me, the Frat-like dude’s actual burka comment was: “the psychological BURKA that these women are forced to wear, why shouldn`t they be able to dress scantily — as scantily clad—” And then he was interrupted. The dripping sarcasm was still there though, might I add.

I tried to get this as word-for-word as possible whenever quotation marks were used, but this post was written in the heat of the moment before I had an official transcript. Thanks to Zelda Lily for making me aware of such a thing on her blog! If you’d like to read for yourself, here’s the official CNN transcript of the show.

If you just can’t bring yourself to read through it, here’s something else that should be noted – also left out in this original “heat of the moment” post. Jane Velez-Mitchell says (and this is pulled directly from the transcript):

“OK. I think that there`s a difference between a woman who`s walking alone on a country road being abducted and never seen again, as we see happen so often. A woman who is at home, like the beautiful Tennessee anchorwoman, minding her business, where some creep breaks in and rapes her and kills her. And these women, who are drinking excessively on the beach, wearing G-strings, and engaging in hypersexual behavior, like doing that dance where they`re simulating sex. I think that we have to distinguish between those two groups of women.”

There it is in a nutshell, folks: Some women really DON’T deserve to be raped, and some women kind of DO. According to Ms. Velez-Mitchell.

I appreciate anyone who has commented on, retweeted, or blogged this.

5 thoughts on “Jane Velez-Mitchell: ‘Wearing a Bikini on Spring Break is Asking for Rape’

  1. Wow, that is horrible. Why is there even a “DEBATE” about rape? I think the word pretty much means that it is non-consensual. And Colleen, don’t act so innocent. You know your TV was on HLN because you were watching Joy Behar the night before.

  2. Anybody that claims that a woman is in any way responsible for rape if she is dressed a certain way, or drinking, or whatever, is coming from a position of privilege and should be ignored. Only one person is ever responsible for rape, the rapist. I don’t know why some people (like the idiots on this show) think otherwise. The fact of the matter is that good men see women dressed provocatively, drinking heavily, acting promiscuously…and they DON’T rape them because they know it’s wrong and have no desire to do so. So why do we give these rapists a pass? Because we feel the need to perpetuate the gender roles of this patriarchal society, essentially telling women that they need to be “good” and “pure” and “chaste” and “quiet.” Rape is an issue of control. Period.

    • Totally agreed. If you really want to be made angry, skim through some of the comments under the Open Salon post on this…It often gets to a point where, yes I’m offended and appalled they feel that way, but it’s like “I have NO idea how you could rationally think that, and I have nothing further to say to you.”

      “Because we feel the need to perpetuate the gender roles of this patriarchal society, essentially telling women that they need to be “good” and “pure” and “chaste” and “quiet.””

      THAT is one of the biggest issues I think too. And the really upsetting part is that a lot of women fall into the same way of thinking and are the ones who say, “She was kind of asking for it.” Rape is not about sex, and I don’t know when – if ever – the general public will start to understand that…

      • And the really upsetting part is that a lot of women fall into the same way of thinking and are the ones who say, “She was kind of asking for it.”

        I can see where this kind of thinking comes from. If you can categorize other women as “asking for it,” it’s a lot easier to think you are safe. “I won’t be raped as long as I dress conservatively. I won’t be raped as long as I don’t walk alone at night. I won’t be raped as long as I don’t drink.”

        It’s an attempt to gain control over that which is uncontrollable. It’s like people who refuse to fly because they think they won’t die if they don’t die in a plane crash.

        The only problem is that rape, by definition, is about someone immorally and disgustingly taking control over physical intimacy and yanking consent away from you. You can’t prevent it with how you dress or how you drink (or avoid drinking).

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