At the same time that women are rising up to accuse their sexual abusers, actress Angela Lansbury goes in the opposite direction and faults the accusers rather than the accused. On Nov. 28, The Telegraph, a British daily, reported Lansbury’s views expressed in an interview with England’s Radio Times. “Women must sometimes take the blame,” she said. “They make themselves look attractive and it has backfired.” Really, Angela? I was a minor when first abused - hardly aware of female wiles.

I can’t believe you said that!

How can a woman of the world like Lansbury, now 92, who has lived as long as she has, be so wrong-headed?

In her words, “We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately, it has backfired on us - and this is where we are today... we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.” She added that she’s never been raped or experienced any unwanted attention.

Sickness in the workplace

Clearly, Lansbury is badly out of step? How badly? Jean Kazez, Ph.D., a philosophy professor at Sothern Methodist University, put it this way in Psychology Today “There’s a strong taboo against blaming the victim.” The taboo was a long time coming and “hard-earned," she said, crediting women who have come forward: “It was far too common to lift responsibility from predators and shift it to the prey.” Another psychologist, Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D., placed the problem in the system that enables predators - “the power structures” in the workplace.

Only in America

OK, that explains all the predatory behavior in workplaces like the entertainment industry, Congress and in broadcasting, but what explains Lansbury’s unawareness? In an Atlantic magazine article last year titled “The Psychology of Victim-Blaming,” psychologist Shelly Hamby unwittingly answered my question. The biggest reason for Blaming The Victim is something she identified as “just world hypothesis,” a rationale for people who think that we deserve what happens to us.

This belief system, she said, comes from the need to view the world as a fair and just place. Apparently, it’s an American phenomenon. To hear Hamby tell it, in other countries that have experienced war or famine, it’s better recognized that “sometimes bad things happen to good people.”

How can you forget the tragedy of Sibyl Vane?

The “just world hypothesis” explains how Lansbury could fault the abused rather than the abuser.

As Hamby has written, holding victims responsible for their misfortune is a way to avoid admitting that something unthinkable could happen, even if you do everything “right...In my experience,” she added, “people blame victims so that they can continue to feel safe themselves.” Even so, it’s hard to reconcile Lansbury’s incredibly ignorant thinking with her early role as Sibyl Vane in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” as an innocent young singer driven to committed suicide over Gray’s cavalier ways with her.