Victim Blaming?

“To err is human, to blame the next guy even more so.”

I work a few nights a week at a local bodega and while working on Wednesday night, a girl came into the store only to leave and discover her bike had been stolen.  The girl hadn’t locked her bike to anything, just locked the wheels, and it appeared that someone came along on another bike, picked hers up, dumped there own, and left.

Bike theft where I live is pretty common. My bike was stolen a few months ago off of my back porch.  Everyone I know has a bike theft story.

When discussing this incident with other store customers, the consensus seemed to be that the girl should have locked her bike to something. I found myself agreeing. I’ve never heard of a bike being stolen from outside of the store.  This incident took place during daylight, at maybe 6:30PM, in a high traffic area.

Is this victim blaming? Is this the same thing that I chastised others for doing?

I realize bike theft and rape aren’t equatable. I also realize that there is a very real relationship between an unlocked bike and bike theft that doesn’t exist for, say, a short skirt and rape. But saying that the girl “shouldn’t have left her bike unlocked” seems eerily similar to the girl “shouldn’t have drank so much.”

  • Ani

    My two cents – this is my problem with crying victim blaming every time someone tries to encourage personal responsibility. I think these are basically the same. In the same way that you can argue that there are certain precautions that people can employ to discourage random rapists (which, despite being less common, do happen) there are precautions that can be taken to discourage random bike theft. Neither are foolproof. (As your own bike theft shows, locking up your bike doesn’t prevent theft) but both are common sense deterrents. Just as it’s not your fault if someone assaults you while you’re walking alone in a dark alley, it’s not your fault if someone steals your unlocked bike. The perpetrator is clearly at fault. But does that mean that you should take unwarranted risks?