Erin Andrews performing on Dancing with the Stars
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May 5, 2010

Elisabeth Hasselbeck criticized Erin Andrews: victim shaming at its finest.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck criticized Erin Andrews on the View for her skimpy costumes. Without having seen this season of Dancing with the Stars (or reading the full quote), it is an unfair statement based on what I know about the costuming. The costumes designs are a collaboration by the professional dancers and costumers, with 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. Elisabeth actually implied that Erin Andrews should change the way she dresses. All because she was the victim of a man who stalked her and peeped into her hotel room, secretly recording her.

Erin Andrews 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 Elisabeth apologized on today’s show. It hurt her to know that she upset Erin Andrews. Hasselbeck’s daughter told her to apologize. 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.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck actually said a woman who was a victim should change their behavior. As though her appearance and style led to it. When what she wore has nothing to do with the crime.

Is Erin Andrews allowed 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 confidence in her sexuality? 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.

Dressing provocatively is not an invitation to be stalked, taped or assaulted. 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 was 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 how they behave isn’t up to us. 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 Elisabeth 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 Elisabeth. Victims are victims. The show 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.

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