A Quick Word On Hoodies and Trayvon Martin

Everyone’s doing it, I know. Buuuuuuuut sucks to be you, so am I :P Even though I know I’m a liiiittle late to the game. But still. Some quick thoughts on this:

So I’m sure many of you have already heard about the Fox News presenter’s opinion that wearing the hoodie was at least partly responsible for Trayvon Martin’s murder. And as you’re all awesome, I’m sure you all rolled your eyes at the utter stupidity of it all.

It’s just yet another case of victim blaming. That the conversation of whether hoodies count as “suspicious attire” or not is even taking place is completely ridiculous. Then again, the conversation about whether a short skirt means a woman “wanted” to be raped is fucking stupid too. It’s because it’s pretty much impossible to be a “perfect victim” — someone will always find a reason why something happened to YOU (and the implied — not THEM). Because YOU did something wrong. They come up with the clothing bullshit… but really the answer goes more like this.

This is what you did wrong:

1. You were black
(“he looked suspicious! In a hoodie on a dark night, anyone would have been scared by that. He should have known better!”)
or for rape:
2. You were a woman
(“She’s such a slut, she was drunk and practically begging him to! And did you see what she was wearing?? She obviously wanted the attention”)
in cases of rape of men:
3. You’re not manly enough
(mostly focusing on excuses about “he didn’t fight back (enough)!”, special focus if he were a gay or trans* victim — not-so-subtly pointing out all the ways the victim didn’t conform to [the ridiculous expectations of] society’s “masculinity”)

A crime will never be entirely the perpetrator’s fault in everyone’s eyes unless it’s like… a middle-class hard-working straight cis white man who never did anything bad (that anyone knows of), wasn’t down a dark alley or anywhere suspicious, wasn’t drunk, was wearing plain old jeans and a t-shirt, and fought back — extra points if he died doing what is considered to be a heroic job (police work, etc). And if he fills out all of those expectations, he is of course no longer a victim at all, he’s a tragic hero who lost his life far too soon in this unfair world.

Though middle-class straight-A-student innocent blondie prepubescent girls come very close in the hierarchy of the “perfect victim”. But she still remains a victim, not a hero — the tragic angel.

But Trayvon Martin was black. And apparently that makes it a little less bad. It makes his own murder a little bit his fault.



more reading:

Crunk Feminist Collective: On Appropriate Victims: More on Trayvon Martin and Others

The Angry Black Woman: Black in America

Tiger Beatdown: Obstructed Justice: The Death of Trayvon Martin


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