May 5, 2010

Don’t change at all, Erin Andrews.

Yesterday, Elizabeth Hasselbeck criticized Erin Andrews on the View for her skimpy costumes. When I first saw that blurb going around, I thought how unfair it is to say that. While I haven’t watched this season at all, I do know that the costumes are designed by the professional dancers, and have little input from the “stars.”

Then, I read the story. She didn’t just criticize Erin’s attire, she framed it by saying:

“In the past three weeks she’s been wearing next to nothing. In light of what happened and as a legal [matter] — and as inexcusable as it was for that horrific guy to go in and try to peep on her in her hotel room. I mean, in some way if I’m him, I’m like, ‘Man! I just could’ve waited 12 weeks and seen this — a little bit less — without the prison time!’” (Quote snagged from EW.com’s coverage of this)

That’s right. Elizabeth actually implied that Erin Andrews should change the way she dresses because she was the victim of a man who stalked her and peeped into her hotel room, secretly recording her.

Erin Andrews quickly told People.com that the comments were “a slap in the face to victims of stalking and sexual predators. As a mother and a woman, I’m disappointed she went there”

Then Elizabeth apologized on today’s show. Because she was sad that she upset Erin Andrews, and her daughter told her to apologize. Then she reiterated the guy was a sleaze and that it really hurt her to know that what she said hurt Erin Andrews. Oh, and she cried.

So we should all smile and go back to our regular lives, right? Wrong. I’m going to get on my feminist soapbox for a bit.

Elizabeth said that a woman who is the victim of that class of crime (being stalked, peeped on, and on the violent end of the scale, the victim of sexual assault) should change their behavior, as though the crime should teach her to know better. Her individual sexuality has nothing to do with the crime.

As a woman, is she entitled to dress provocatively? Yes. It is her right as a woman to dress as she sees fit. Is it her right as a victim to regain her sexuality in such a manner? Yes. And by someone, especially a woman, saying that she shouldn’t- implying that it’s irresponsible… it’s continuing to give power to the man who violated Andrews’ privacy. If she changes her life because of him? Then he won. That’s all there is to it.

Also, I should note that dressing provocatively is not an invitation to be stalked, taped or more. Quite often, the perpetrators of these crimes aren’t looking for women dressed scantily, they’re looking for the women who fit their fantasy, or a woman they deem as weak.

There’s also the matter of Hasselbeck’s apology. It’s self-serving. She tries to save her image by pointing out that she called the guy a creep originally, which she did. But that isn’t the point. She says that it hurt her deeply to know she’d hurt Andrews’ feelings, and when her daughter be sad about it, wanted her to apologize. Her daughter! So she apologized to Andrews and offered a public apology. A public apology, which didn’t state that she was wrong, or remind women who are victims that they can be powerful. No, it was one that said she was sad and therefore sorry.

The most sickening part about this is that their roundtable discussions aren’t entirely unscripted. They know what topics they’re going to discuss and likely the producers know the jist of what they’re going to say- to avoid anything too controversial. So not only did they know that Elizabeth was going to bring this up (as evidenced by the graphics they had ready to show her “skimpy” costumes), they didn’t stop her from slamming a victim.

What’s my point? Shame on The View. Shame on Elizabeth. Women are stalked. Women are raped. They shouldn’t be sending the message that women who did nothing wrong, other than to be the focus of a sick mind, should change who they are because of it. Otherwise, these crimes will simply continue to yield more and more power over us.

(ETA: This actually reminds me a lot of some feminists who decried Boobquake as being anti-feminist because it asked women to dress in a revealing manner. When oddly enough, their own cries for women to cover up so that they could be taken seriously is similar to the cleric who blamed earthquakes on scantily clad women)

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