Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Joyce Carol Oates recently caused a Twitter storm after sharing her controversial opinion that the Islamic religion was responsible for the high rates of rape and sexual harassment among women in Egypt. Twitter users — including many writers — quickly responded to Oates, criticizing the well-known author for her failure to acknowledge that rape is a worldwide epidemic and not specific to one group of people. Many commenters even went so far as to share their own rape stories to prove that rape can affect anyone living in any country.
In the United States alone, over 207,754 people — including both men and women — over the age of 12 are sexually assaulted each year. Oates’ attempt to blame religion for the high rape rates of Egypt is, in a sense, a form of victim blaming, an act that places blame back on the victims of sexual assault rather than the perpetrator. By saying that religion leads to high rates of sexual violence, Oates is essentially saying that everyone outside of that target group is “safer” because they are not engaging in the Islamic religion. But rape is one of the few things that does not discriminate by age, gender, sexual identity, culture or religion.
And while Oates is by no means changing her opinion on the matter, she has since published a semi-apologetic tweet stating, “Blaming religion(s) for cruel behavior of believers may be a way of not wishing to acknowledge they’d be just as cruel if secular.”
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