(This one’s from TTAC veteran contributor Thomas Kreutzer… welcome back, Tom! — JB )
Last week, Pamela Anderson was accused in the media of “victim blaming” when, in response to a question about sexual predation in Hollywood, she told NBC reporter Megyn Kelly “It was common knowledge that certain producers or certain people in Hollywood are people to avoid, privately. You know what you’re getting into if you’re going into a hotel room alone.” Later, in answer to mounting criticism, she doubled down on her statements saying: “I’m trying to tell women as a survivor of childhood abuse myself – It is important to be proactive as an adult who knows better – in defending themselves. Don’t get in cars with strangers — #rideresponsibly — Don’t go to Hotel rooms alone for an audition.”
Her message, essentially that people should look out for themselves, is similar to advice I used to give to new motorcyclists when I moderated the New Riders’ Forum on Sportbikes.net some years ago. “When another vehicle wants your place on the road, get out of the way.” That’s what I would write, but then, as now, some people didn’t want to hear it. Their motorcycles, they argued, were licensed vehicles and were entitled to their place on the road. Other drivers who encroached upon their space were violating their rights and, they assured me, they would not yield in the face of such provocation.
I see a similar train of thought at work in the heads of the pedestrians in my community. Usually they are Americans assigned to the local military base and they walk around utterly confident in their right to step into the road without so much as a glance to the left or right. Recently, I commented on their willingness to risk their lives so frivolously to my friend Gavin, the local Australian who shares many of my adventures, and was surprised to find that agrees with their mindset. “They have the right to do that,” He said, “If you hit them, it’s your fault.”
Technically, he’s correct. The clueless pedestrians in my neighborhood are fully within their legal rights to wander out into traffic and, if I hit them, it really will be my fault. By the same token, motorcyclists have a legal right to their place on the road and, should they be struck by another vehicle, that vehicle will also be at fault. Finally, Hollywood starlets, too, have the right to go where they will. Should they enter the hotel rooms of a bathrobe-clad movie moguls and suffer molestation, their assailant is the one who is clearly in the wrong.
It’s great that our legal rights are inviolable and that the guilty party is so clear cut. Because of their right to be in the street, the pedestrian I accidently strike will get paid off by my insurance company. Thankfully, money will not be an issue while his wife and children cry over his hospital bed and during the long months of his rehabilitation. The motorcyclist who was struck by an encroaching vehicle, if he survives, will receive his own payout and, if he is lucky, the settlement may include a little extra to cover the cost of his gear and the modifications he’d made to his bike. With that in his pocket, perhaps he can fantasize about how to spend it while they use forceps pick the gravel from his skin and apply a soothing cream to his road rash. The starlet, I assume, will get great satisfaction from reporting her assault to the police and seeing her assailant face criminal charges. She may also enjoy a period of withering public sympathy and the right to sue for damages. Assuredly, these will help her cope with the myriad of feelings that will likely follow her for the rest of her life.
I am sure that, given the choice, the vast majority of those who have had to invoke the rights listed above would prefer not to repeat the process. While the uninformed are free to debate the issues, real victims understand that the pound of cure they may have received as compensation is nowhere near the value of the ounce of prevention they failed to use. A simple pause and a glance towards the oncoming car before stepping into the street, the application of the brakes and a shift into another lane, and the thought that, even though he is a movie mogul, it might not be a good idea for young-and-vulnerable me to go to a man’s hotel room on my own are small things that could have prevented a lifetime of pain. The way I see it, Pamela Anderson is right when she points out that people need to protect themselves. She’s not trying to blame the victims, she’s trying to prevent new ones. I hope people listen.