Monday, August 1, 2011

What do you think..?

Many of you will have heard of the “Slut Walk.” It started in Toronto when a rape victim was told by a police officer that she could have avoided it if she had been dressed more modestly. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this was the wrong thing to say, mostly due to its insensitivity. Enough women took umbrage with this that they started the Slut Walk, kind of like a civil rights march, or a Pride Parade, but for women who want to dress as provocatively as they please without judgement.

I’ve got mixed feelings on this. I think that women have every right to present themselves as they like, and that men should be gentlemanly and respectful. However, expecting all men to be so respectful is a pipe dream, and women should not be naïve to that.

Last night, we had one Andrea’s friends over for drinks on the patio, so I took the opportunity to get their opinions. It got lively. “It’s like they want the power without taking responsibility for the reactions they elicit.” Well, yeah.

Another point was that the sexual triggers for men are obvious. However, there’s a mystery to feminine sexuality. Even in our candid conversation, the best I could get from them was “it depends on our mood.” So when men see a display of sexuality that is familiar, our immediate association is that they displayer is aroused, and trying to be arousing.

Or let’s look at it from another angle: Would you wear a jersey from a Swedish football team? It sends a very clear message, and anyone who is familiar with the team would approach you, wanting to discuss the players, coaches, and recent games. Or how about a BB King T-shirt? People would approach with their stories of seeing him in ’82, and the hipsters with their “I mostly like his older stuff.” These are graphic examples of how one’s clothes elicit reactions.

On the flip side, women’s attire does not create a rapist. You’re not going to hear about a man who left his house, thinking of nothing deeper than an episode of Cheers, until he saw a woman wearing handkerchief-sized shorts and displaying three inches of cleavage, then thought, “Well, I was just gonna pick up some Fritos and smokes, but I think I’ll rape her first.” Rapists are predators, and they target the isolated and the infirm. If a woman is radiating power in any sense, a predator will be discouraged, but a woman huddling into herself and separated from the crowd may be a more likely target, whether she’s wearing club wear, or slacks and a hoodie.

As always, I’m eager to hear what others think on the topic, so don’t be shy! Display your naked opinions in all of their God-given glory.


  1. This is a tricky conversation, and I'm almost hesitant to even put my two thoughts in, but as a father of two young girls, I think there's a side that many people aren't thinking about.

    First, it was wrong, I think, of the office to say that, because that statement (at least in the context where it's the only thing that was said) places the blame on her. She did not ask to be raped, that was the fault of the rapist. Now, that said, while the officer was not right, you can't say he was wrong either... If the lass wore sweat pants and a poncho, perhaps she wouldn't have been singled out. BUT that isn't to say there wouldn't have been a rape, just that it might not have been her... There was still a rapist in the crowd, and he'd likely have just grabbed someone else.

    The problem is that we're not talking about a controlled environment, where everyone thinks the same way, and feels similarly. Not all men (or humans for that matter) are predictable. Some minds don't work the same way as others. There are defective units out there, and it's not a bad idea to be aware of it, and act accordingly.

    She was clearly not out looking to get raped. But she was looking to get attention, which is dangerous unless you know your audience well.

    I'll point out: No one looks down upon a dad when he yells at his teenaged daughter to go put on something respectable, and I'm willing to bet that most people would side with said dad, but when something abominable DOES happen, no one says "If you'd only listened to your father...".

    This is where the emotions come in, and the human tendency to want to place blame. "You can't say I told you so" or point out the kinds of things you could have done to avoid a disaster after the fact, because it makes people who are already feeling bad, feel worse. There are many factors that, were they changed might have lead to different results. If she'd dressed differently, if she'd taken a later train, if she'd stopped to make a phone call, or even if he'd come out later, or of he'd taken a different route... Let's go even further back, and say that maybe her father could have avoided this for her, had he taken that job in a different state ten years ago! Any number of things could have yielded different results, it's not fair to place blame on actions or decisions that aren't the real issue.

    The only right thing that could have been said was "If he hadn't been a rapist, you wouldn't have been raped."

    Had that been my daughter, I'd have jumped all over that cop... though had I been there before she went out I'd have made her change.

    As for the walk... I think it's misguided. This wasn't a case where someone's civil rights were infringed, so we can go demonstrate and raise awareness, this is a case where a sick bastard saw a girl, and raped her. These people are out there, regardless of how you cram your rights down the public's throats. I know the point is to show the police that when it DOES happen, it's because there are sickos... I don't think raising the possibility of more people being hurt is going to have a positive impact.

    It's like getting a crowd to gether to walk around with a million dollars in their pockets and advertising it brazenly because they shouldn't HAVE to be worried about getting mugged. "I have something most people want, and sickos will try to take!!"

    ...but then, perhaps I'm just missing the point.

  2. Sorry to hijack the comments... Told you I had strong feelings! :)

  3. Another thought, to your point that rapists are predators... When someone says that a woman dresses provocatively, they seem to dismiss the fact that provocatively means "as to provoke". Well provoke what?

    They don't call it dressing "Admirably" or dressing "to be appreciated"... It's dressing to cause something... Obviously, not cause rape, but provoke feelings, certainly.

    I'm done now, I promise. At least FOR now...

  4. In Salt Lake City, they sell t-shirts that say "SL,UT". I thought it's clever. Basically being a slut now is considered cool by many people.

    Dave Chapelle said in his stand up routine..."No...just because you are dressed like a whore DOES NOT make you a whore. However, you are wearing a whore's uniform."

  5. This is an issue that have many implications.
    Rape is a woman's worst nightmare, I know only too well, 12 years ago a so called friend of my late husband from work (I didn't know him) knocked on my door said he had only just heard of my husband's passing a year before as he had been abroad. I invited him in for coffee but got more than coffee, I came to feeling "Dirty" I showered continuously and stayed in the safety of my bedroom for three weeks. I didn't answer the phone or pick up mail. A nieghbour saw my son who had house keys, they both came in and found me "In a state" You may ask why no police involved well they tend to treat the victim as the criminal. It took years to get over as I was still grieving for my husband and mother.I don't often think about it as it happened and it can't be undone.That's what it's like from a woman's point of view,
    Funnily I was in Toronto a few months ago and thought it an excellent city.

  6. Yeah-Will, you stepped in it *teehee*

    I see both sides. I guess I defend women's (and men's) rights to dress as they please (or undress) but i feel like we also need to be REALLY open about being SMART. Walk assertively, look people in the eye, stick to well-USED streets, stay with friends when possible, carry something that could be used in defense if you DO need to go someplace more deserted or alone.

    But that ALSO doesn't mean if a woman alone in an alley gets raped that she was asking for it.

    Yvonne-I'm so sorry for what happened to you--that's horrible! And I think that is more often how rape happens--somebody who OUGHT to be trustworthy ends up being horrible.

  7. Women can do the wrong things and dress the wrong way, inviting the wrong element around them. However strong the flesh though, the mind is stronger, and men have to control themselves and act human.

  8. Rape isn't sex - it's an act of violence. And any man who commits such an act is one of the lowest forms of creatures on the earth. (Down there with child molesters.)

  9. Thank you Alex. =)

    I'm of the opinion women who dress immodestly don't respect themselves very highly. A woman who understands her own worth won't feel the need to expose every inch of skin for the world to see. It's overcompensation.

  10. There is an issue with responsibility on both sides. Women shouldn't tease to give men the wrong ideas, and men with the wrong ideas shouldn't act upon them.

    Tossing It Out

  11. I think there's two issues here: sexy and revealing clothing that might confuse a man into thinking a woman is open to "advances", advances being what used to be called a "pass", and could be anything from a kiss in the car to, at a party, "let's get out of here . . ."

    And then there is rape, which, as you pointed out, has nothing to do with clothing and everything to do with the mindset of a predator. For a predator, any excuse will do, and I agree that it doesn't matter what a woman is wearing for someone who is looking for a victim.

  12. My first reaction is wow that cop is pompous, and two why are women walking around Toronto dresses like sluts? I mean that is actually kind of stupid. But you have a good point, rapist are predators and they aren't going to pick and choose from what your wearing. They are going to pick the weakest link and go after it.