Monday, June 06, 2011

Slutwalks confront blame-the-victim mentality

In January, at a safety forum for students at York University, a Toronto police officer made a flippant and revealing comment about female victims of sexual assault.  The officer commented that women should refrain from dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped.  (The officer who made the remarks has since retracted and apologized.)

The comments sparked a series of protest marches in Canada and the United States.  These protests, known as "slutwalks," draw attention to the appalling attitude in our society which seeks to blame victims of sexual assault for their manner of dress and their appearance.  You know?  The hateful "she was asking for it" meme.

Slutwalks have occurred or are planned in Toronto, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Reno, Austin, Dallas, Asheville, and Ottawa.  (Portland, where are you?)  They feature women (and sympathetic men), some dressed in scanty or revealing clothing --clothing that might be deemed "slutty"  --protesting the backward notion that one's attire might provoke sexual assault.

Sadly, there are deeply-ingrained sexual attitudes in this patriarchal society that continue to objectify women.  These attitudes are yet another endowment of the prudish and repressive Puritan colonists.  Isn't it funny how the very people who condemn Muslims for repressing women are also the very first to condemn women for (supposed) immoral behavior?  (It seems to me that all the "Children of Abraham," Christian, Jew, and Muslim alike, are guilty of misogyny to one degree or another.)

Innumerable studies (you can read one such here) have shown that sexual assault is an act of domination and hatred.  It has little or nothing to do with sexual desire.  (Remember what happened to Lara Logan in Cairo last February?)

The idea that a woman's appearance can provoke sexual assault is largely without merit.  Women and girls of all shapes, sizes, and ages are sexually assaulted every day in every community.  It doesn't matter how they look.

So, I'm all in favor of these slutwalks.  In fact, I'll go ahead and declare myself in favor of women asserting their political power anywhere and everywhere.  God knows they could scarcely screw things up worse than we men have done over the centuries.

Besides, some of my best friends are sluts.


Dan Binmore said...

The idea that rape has nothing to do with sexual desire is ridiculous. This doesn't mean that the desire to dominate or intimidate isn't part or most of it, but there's a reason why 80% of rapes happen to women under thirty years old.

I also think there's an excellent chance that dressing more provocatively increases the chances of being raped. If you want to reduce your chances of getting raped I suspect how you dress matters.

However, this doesn't mean that anyone at any time deserves to be raped, or that women shouldn't be allowed to be as sexual as they wish, or to go anywhere they wish, or to dress in any way that they wish.

Rape is always the rapists fault, although it would be helpful if women were more forthright about yes or no (one study had one third of female Texas teenagers saying they had said "No" when they actually meant "Yes".)

Roger Buck said...

The dark desire exists continually in my broken fallen heart to objectify women.

So does hatred. Whether it is mysogny or mysandry or hatred for all that walks and lives and breathes.

So does the desire for power control and dominance.

I am frightened, dark and broken.

A main difference with you here Dade may be that I don't think my hatred and lust for sex and power has much if anything to do with my cultural conditioning.

And though I disagreed radically with Mr Binmore here in an old forgotten post that probably will never be seen much again ...

I have to painfully say that I am in agreement with much that he writes here.

Dan Binmore said...

I actually replied to that post today Roger.

Anonymous said...

Well let me see, after working in the field of Sexual Assault and Domestic violence, I remember two different cases. One was a response for a rape victim that was at the hospital, that little person was almost a year old. The other response was a case involving a 87 year old women who had been raped in her own home at a 29 year old man. As for she said no but she meant yes, oh yes the last time that intelligent piece of information was offered up was in"Gone with the Wind" just before Clark Gable swept Scarlett off the staircase and into the bedroom. I have often wondered when does a guy dress like a slut? Would that be when he is playing hackisack shirtless in front of the dorm on a hot summer day, or streaking across campus naked which happens several times a year here. Oh yes your study of young women was from Texas need I say more.

Stay safe Dan