More than 200 Princeton University professors have signed their names to a letter to student newspaper The Daily Princetonian bashing controversial comments from “Princeton Mum” Susan Patton.
When asked about a “woman’s responsibility” when she is sexually assaulted in an interview in The Princetonian, Patton responded:
“She is that one that needs to take responsibility for herself and for her own safety, and simply not allow herself to come to a point where she is no longer capable of protecting her physical self.”
The group of Princeton professors responded to Patton’s comments in a letter to the editor:
“In light of statements made in a news article in this paper, we wish to inform the students on this campus that we do not believe that their manner of dress or drinking behaviour makes them responsible for unwanted sexual contact.”
Prominent signees include former Princeton president Shirley Tilghman, award winning novelist Joyce Carol Oates, and philosopher Peter Singer, among many others.
In an editor’s note, The Princetonian included an abridged version of their interview with Patton, which includes her seemingly blaming rape and sexual assault victims:
Daily Princetonian: You wrote: “Please spare me your ‘blaming the victim’ outrage,” saying that a provocatively dressed drunk woman “must bear accountability for what may happen.” Why does the woman hold the responsibility in the case of rape or sexual assault?
Susan Patton ’77: The reason is, she is the one most likely to be harmed, so she is the one that needs to take control of the situation. She is that one that needs to take responsibility for herself and for her own safety, and simply not allow herself to come to a point where she is no longer capable of protecting her physical self. The analogy that I would give you is: If you cross the street without looking both ways and a car jumps the light or isn’t paying attention, and you get hit by a car — as a woman or as anybody — and you say, ‘Well I had a green light,’ well yes you did have a green light but that wasn’t enough. So in the same way, a woman who is going to say, ‘Well the man should have recognised that I was drunk and not pushed me beyond the level at which I was happy to engage with him,’ well, you didn’t look both ways. I mean yes, you’re right, a man should act better, men should be more respectful of women, but in the absence of that, and regardless of whether they are or are not, women must take care of themselves.
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