Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Perez Hilton’s Altercation Highlights Issue of Victim Blaming

Perez Hilton is known for taking cheap shots at celebrities, but things got messy when Black Eyed Peas singer’s manager physically fought back.

Apparently members of the Black Eyed Peas asked Hilton, real name Mario Lavandeira, to back off on his critical approach of the members and their music at the MuchMusic Video Awards held in Toronto on Sunday. He refused and engaged in some explicative name-calling.

Later Hilton was assaulted by the band’s manager, Liborio "Polo" Molina. Molina has been charged with assault and has a hearing scheduled for early August.

Regardless of the situation that led up to the altercation, the reaction following has been strikingly similar to reactions many sexual assault survivors experience. Victim blaming has been occurring all over the web, from tweets to blogs to comment’s on Hilton’s site.
What’s sad about this situation is that people are finding justification for Molina’s actions, just as many people find justification for the horrific experiences sexual assault survivors endure.
John Mayer used his twitter account to inform Hilton that, “People don't want to see you hurt, they want to see you experience something equalizing,” and “By understanding the genetics of a violent incident you can learn to avoid them. And if you can't, you will learn to end them.”
The flaw in his logic though is suggesting that Hilton could have avoided the violence. While name-calling could have been avoided, there’s a line between verbal violence and physical violence. And one doesn’t justify the other. However, Mayer’s not alone.

Others are justifying the incident saying that Hilton, “Had it coming to him,” and that this must be his karma.

That sounds very similar to, “If only she hadn’t drank so much…” and “Just look at the way she was dressed; she was asking for it.”

No one asks to be assaulted.

Hilton responded to all the reactions on his blog, saying, “There are many ways to deal with disagreements, both good and bad, but violence is never the answer. Never. I now know that first-hand. It should not be condoned, promoted or accepted. No one "deserves" to be the victim of violence. No one "has it coming." NO ONE. And victims should not be ridiculed.”

I find it surprising that victim blaming even exists. However, I hope this situation will highlight victim blaming as a whole, and especially victim blaming in sexual assault cases. I hope that all these people coming to the celebrity blogger’s side will open their eyes and reevaluate victim blaming on all levels, not just on the plane of celebrity ranting.

--Molly Hays, Communications Intern

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