One thing that I think is really important to consider when it comes to why people (ESPECIALLY women) engage in victim blaming is that they are ultimately doing it out of fear.
Victim-blaming means they can tell themselves “well this wouldn’t happen tome, because I would’ve done x, y, z differently…”. Victim blaming is a way for people to mentally protect themselves from the fact that this could happen to them, that it is possible for them to occupy that near-powerless state of victimhood. And people find that terrifying! The thought that “this could happen to me too” scares them so much that they would rather find reasons to distance themselves from victims of abuse/sexual violence rather than empathize with them.
Both men and women do this, though I think they approach the idea of victimhood in different ways. Women are taught “ALWAYS BE ON ALERT, YOU COULD BE A VICTIM AT ANY MOMENT!” And being told this your whole life fucking scares people. So women come up with reasons it happened to that girl: “she shouldn’t’ve gotten so drunk,” “she shouldn’t’ve gone home with that guy,” “what was she thinking.” All the while, victim blaming women reassure themselves this couldn’t possibly happen to them because they wouldn’t’ve acted “like that.” It’s a trick to make themselves feel safe, because facing the actual truth is way scarier: whether or not you are a victim has nothing to do with your own actions, and everything to do with the actions of someone perpetrating violence against you. And you can’t control someone else’s actions. Therefore, there’s no “guaranteed” safety if you just act a certain way, because it could happen to anyone, including you.
I think a similar process goes on when men victim blame, that it’s ultimately about fear of becoming victims themselves. Only, unlike women who are socialized to believe they are walking victims, men are socialized to believe they are INCAPABLE of being victims at all! In fact, I think a lot of men (and probably most men who victim blame) associate vicitmhood with losing one’s masculinity. You can’t be a man AND a victim!
Which is, I think, why some men have such difficulty with a character like Sansa Stark. For most people, really getting to know a character and becoming emotionally attached to them involves empathy; it involves the ability to put yourself in that situation. But when men are taught that it is impossible to be both a man and a victim, they create a giant wall that prevents them from empathizing with a character like Sansa (or, in real life, women and men who are victims of violence). If you can empathize with a victim, not only do you risk thinking “wow, this could happen to me too,” you risk losing the incredibly fragile sense of masculine identity you’ve constructed for yourself.
The reason I wanted to talk about how victim blaming stems from fear is not to give victim blamers a free pass. However, I do think looking at the root cause of this behavior can be helpful when calling out victim blaming. Because most people don’t even recognize they are acting out of fear. So I think it can be powerful to redirect that conversations about victim blaming away from the victims (and what they did/didn’t do, because that’s what these conversations always end up being about) and towards the blamers themselves and why they’re reacting this way emotionally. Point out their fear, bring it into the light. Because if that’s the root of the problem, that’s where the solution lies too.
I think this is also compounded by the fact that boys and men are conditioned not to relate and empathize with female characters. While male-centered narratives are considered universally appealing, stories with female protagonists are somehow “special interest.” I think a lot of the hate directed at Sansa stems from this—especially hate that compares her storyline to Arya’s—because Sansa’s values and motives and actions come from such a traditionally “feminine” line of thinking.
And, of course, no one likes to examine their own behavior or admit that they might be contributing to the problem! So a lot of people simply reject or dismiss arguments about victim blaming, the pervasiveness of rape culture, etc. because they don’t want to see how their behavior contributes to the problem (see also: Tosh, Daniel).