The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!

11May/1115

Why provocative female attire/behavior must correlate to a higher incidence of rape and sexual assault…

Let me make it clear, I am in no way suggesting that provocative attire/behavior is a factor in the vast, vast majority of sexual assault.  What I am going to try and argue is that it must logically be a factor in a non-insignificant minority of sexual assault, perhaps assault fitting one or several specific profiles (e.g., late night post bar outing sexual assault by an intoxicated male).  While I have no studies to back up what I'm saying, neither can I find any studies backing up the opposing position (that provocative attire/behavior has zero correlation to any kinds of sexual assault).  What I have found is lots of groups proclaiming this idea is a misogynistic myth, despite offering no evidence.  If those groups claiming it is a myth mean that clothing/behavior is not a factor in most assaults, then obviously they are absolutely right, but that seems a straw man argument; I am unaware of any such claims by even moderately sensible people.  Most rapes are committed by someone the person knows, are premeditated, and are driven by things which have nothing whatsoever to do with any factor the victim could reasonably influence.  Let me also make clear, a victim is a victim.  No victim behavior makes them deserving of assault.  The purpose of my discussing this topic is that I am trying to explore what I think is misdirected energy against warning women that their clothing and behavior may elevate their risk for sexual assault (see the my discussion of SlutWalk marches), and that they may wish to take additional precautions as a result when they exercise their absolute right to wear and be as they wish.  If you have studies to counter anything I'm saying or have alternative logical arguments, please share them.  If I am wrong here I eagerly want to know the errors.  I would love nothing more than to believe I am entirely wrong, that would be a far more interesting reality; discovering you are wrong is terribly exciting, as new worlds of understanding open up before you.

Here are the reasons I believe provocative female attire must correlate to a higher incidence of rape.  I do not agree that the following is desirable or proper, I am merely stating what my observations have been (detailed explanations follow):

  • Male behavior around provocatively dressed females (relative to context) is observed to be markedly different than male behavior towards normally dressed females.
  • Aroused humans behave more dangerously than unaroused humans.
  • Provocative attire puts females in greater contact with males, with those interactions tending to be less bonding and more sexual in nature.
  • Men who look for provocatively dressed women are more dangerous.
  • The self-fulfilling prophecy of the provocative behavior/attire myth.

If some things are different, their sum is unlikely to be the same.  If we can logically establish that provocative female attire and/or behavior significantly alters male behavior, especially related to sexuality and aggression, then it seems unlikely to imagine there is no impact upon the incidence of sexual assaults committed by men.  How much of an impact is probably impossible to logically argue, but with over 230,000 sexual assaults against women in US every year, any impact would be significant.

 

Male Behavior Around Provocatively Dressed Women

Surely everyone has seen men leering at, approaching, commenting about provocatively dressed women in a way they do not with more normally dressed women.  I relate this story elsewhere, but a couple of days ago I'm sitting at a cafe when a stranger next to me, who I’d earlier asked about the wifi password, prods me and says, “Look at that ass.” directing my attention to a provocatively dressed woman passing by. Several hundred women must have passed in the time I’d sat there and he’d said nothing (it’s down the street from a popular bar). Yet he felt comfortable pointing this one woman, and this one feature out to me, a complete stranger, because the woman was dressed that way. I ignored him, because quite frankly I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to say to something like that; I don’t personally think of women on the street in those terms.  In the few times I've been to bars or clubs (and even out on the streets) I’ve certainly seen guys behaving as though a woman’s provocative dress was an invitation to be more amorous than I suspect they would if she was dressed less provocatively.  I do not agree with this behavior, I do not engage in this behavior, but neither can I deny it exists.  If you have observed behavior like this as well, how can you not agree that such social aggression (which moves into the areas of sexual aggression) is more likely to approach and cross over a line of sexual assault than would more staid interactions?

Aroused Humans Behave Differently

Very closely related to the first point, aroused humans behave differently than unaroused humans.  Aroused humans are notorious for forgoing condoms and the risk of pregnancy, ignoring the risks of disease, detaching from vows they have made to wives/partners, turning away from the disruption that may result in their family unit (and their relationships with their children), disregarding risk to their job, etc.  Many are willing to hurt others (or risk hurting others) for selfish sexual gratification.  The vast majority of humans are not amoral pigs and are able to recognize and respect the consent (or lack thereof) of a partner, but clearly some small and hideous minority do not.  While rape is not usually driven by a desire for sexual gratification, clearly some rape is, and unaroused males must therefore be safer than aroused males.

Provocative Attire Puts One in Greater Contact with Males

Time and time again I've seen women who dress provocatively get more attention from guys; and by that I mean more attention from more guys, and the attention is of a nature which is more superficial, more sexual, and less likely to create an emotional bond which might discourage some types of male sexual aggression.

On a pure numbers basis, a woman normally dressed sitting alone at the bar is going to get fewer guys interacting with her than were she sitting alone and provocatively dressed.  If we assume that some fixed percentage of men are dangerous, more visibility to and interaction with more random men would seem to put one at elevated risk.  Every day we queue up in grocery store and bank lines behind people who must occasionally be muggers, rapists, pedophiles, drug dealers, but the slight nature of our interactions afford us protection.  The nature of the interactions is key.  And I would posit that the nature of the interactions between a provocatively dressed woman and a random man who approached her based on attire is going to be more superficial and less protective than a similar interaction without the provocative attire.  While an emotional bond is only protective in some cases, we hear it routinely cited as the reason why some victims of kidnap, rape, and other crimes ultimately survive, because their assailant came to see them not merely as an object.

It's important to note that my take on this could be backwards.  It could be that while it might diminish some classes of rapes it might elevate others.  Perhaps women would be less likely to be assaulted from these sorts of men and more likely to be by other sorts of men (the types they might meet in more significant contexts and develop more emotional bonds with).  I suspect that's not the case, but I can't deny it might be.

Men Who Look for Provocatively Dressed Women are More Dangerous

The men who are attracted to superficial qualities like provocative dress (to the point that they initiate interaction) seem less likely to be currently in, or have been in, significant, emotionally deep relationships.  As such, they seem less likely to be empathetic towards women, and more likely to objectify them, ultimately seeing them as a disposable means to an end.  I can't shake the feeling that those men pose more of a danger to women statistically than a guy who initiates interaction because of some more significant and instructive quality about her (e.g., the esoteric topic of a book she's reading).   I see this focus on more substantive qualities as being a quality more likely found in a well-governed male, one who has chosen (or been genetically/environmentally predisposed) to cast off some of his baser urges.

There is a possibility that the opposite is true, in as much as sexually aggressive males could be less likely to commit sexual assault because they know how easily they can find another woman to engage in sexual relations with. I doubt it, though, since I think the "self-governance" aspect is the key point.

 

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of the Provocative Behavior/Attire Myth

The horribly sad fact about humans is, many will do what they think they can get away with.  We hear stories of societies all around the world which still (wrongly) believe that provocatively attired/acting women are "fair game" for unwanted sexual advances and assault.  If prosecution occur at all the men claim they were provoked and juries far too often agree, leaving the woman further victimized, stigmatized, and sometimes even punished criminally.  I find it very hard to imagine that this atmosphere would not greatly encourage some men to sexually assault women, with many specifically targeting women who they and the courts see as "fair game".  In South Africa, for example, 25% of men admit to having raped a woman (and half of those to having raped more than one).  Even the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, was tried for rape.  He was acquitted, after his mounting a defense based on her supposedly provoking him by wearing a particular outfit.  His "innocence" and the apparent acceptance of his excuse (in the minds of those listening to the abstract of the case, if not the details) surely makes many South African males feel ever more that their monstrous treatment of women is justified, is acceptable, and is unlikely to be punished, so long as they only rape the ones who "deserved it".  But the answer to this problem is not to hide from women the fact that many horrible people in South Africa feel safe abusing provocatively dressed/acting women, it is to challenge the ridiculous public and legal notion that such behavior is anything less than evilly felonious, while simultaneously alerting women to the disgusting erroneous views of many of their men.

Imagine your daughter was going to South Africa on a semester abroad from college, wouldn't you want campus police or trip organizers to warn females participating in the program that sexual crimes against their gender is so alarmingly common and that the attitudes of the legal system and the general public likely mean that a shocking number of South African males feel justified in their assault on provocatively dressed/acting women?  Would you not want the women to know this and be encouraged to reduce their likelihood of victimization, mentioning ways they could optionally choose to minimize their risk, including modifying their attire, traveling in groups, reducing alcohol intake, carrying mace, etc.?  That seems like a reasonable, intelligent response, one likely to protect students while letting them exercise their freedom to choose whatever remedy they wished.  But this solution would appear to be one that the supporters of the SlutWalk marches would feel is inappropriate, if I am correctly interpreting their position.  And while the United States and Canada are far more advanced on gender and sexual equality than once they were, I'd argue that social attitudes are not so improved that we can claim women here do not deserve a warning not unlike one might give to a daughter heading off to South Africa; numerous jury-related studies prove the point that in the minds of many North Americans provocative attire/behavior is still a partial justification for sexual assault.

The incident that touched off the SlutWalk protests was offensive, the constable who warned women not to dress like sluts made an overly broad statement that implied, or could have been interpreted as supporting, the absurd notion that women had primary control over whether or not they were victimized.  But rather than attack one constable's specifically terrible wording the SlutWalk protests seem to promote the idea that women have almost zero ability to alter their risk factors, which simply cannot be true.  Some risks are inescapable, other risks could theoretically be reduced but practically speaking shouldn't be if one wants to lead a normal life, but other risks could be reduced without giving up precious freedoms.

Warnings about negative attitudes do not usually aide and abet those negative attitudes.  Warning women about the corrupted minds of a minority of men and how they might avoid those situations does not provide safe harbor to those men, nor does it encourage others to become corrupted.  Our society warns potential victims about the nature of potential criminals all the time without sanctioning or emboldening those criminals; safety seminars teach people about everything from securing your home, to avoiding internet scams, to safely traversing dark mall parking lots.

 

What to do about it?

If what I'm suggesting is in fact true then I'm not suggesting the remedy requires suggesting women be encouraged to cover up or stop behaving as they wish. I am simply arguing that we should not be afraid to tell women about the risks as they are, not as we might wish them to be.  What is being done now smacks of politically correct censorship to me; we can’t openly discuss this possible risk because some people fear it will be misunderstood by the masses as tacit permission to assault women (rather than as a targeted message to reduce specific correlated assaults). I can't think of any other topic where this sort of logic is argued.  Quite to the contrary, society is seen as smart enough to understand the message that we shouldn’t let our young children wander off alone in a mall, without thinking such a warning emboldens pedophiles to abuse our kids.  Why then do some insist an advisory to women emboldens abusive males?

The solution to the problem would not necessitate alterations in provocative dress or provocative behavior.  For example, advice might sound like the following, "Women who dress or act provocatively are suspected to be victimized somewhat more often than average women.  Any additional risk can me eliminated by traveling in pairs and reducing alcohol consumption in those circumstances."  Obviously I'm not sure what the real advice might be, that would require study, but something along those lines which makes it clear to women that they can choose their options for reduced risk.

And finally, let me just re-iterate, nothing I've said alters the absolute necessity that we continue educating society and revising legal systems to ensure that everyone well understands that assault of any form against anyone is wrong.  I just don't see how we are served by a hypocritical refusal to seriously discuss or at least disprove the correlation between provocative attire/behavior and some sexual assaults.

And if my argument is flawed, please let me know how and why!

^Quinxy

Comments (15) Trackbacks (0)
  1. You’ve spent a lot of words on this, so it’s obviously an idea that’s gotten under your skin, but the question remains – is it true?

    Is there any evidence whatsoever that societies where women dress more modestly than ours have fewer violent assaults on women?

    In South Africa, one in four men *admit* to having raped a woman.

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1906000,00.html

    Is that because South African women dress immodestly?

    The flaw in your reasoning is that it doesn’t reflect the real world.

  2. Related to the article, I’m only talking about a small percentage of sexual assaults (of a specific class) where dress might be a factor. So, there’s no reason to expect that in a country like South Africa where rape is so much more prevalent that the cause would have anything to do with provocative attire/behavior, quite the opposite. And whatever the case, modesty is relative, provocative behavior/dress is relative. A woman almost nude in a bikini at the beach attracts very little notice, whereas a woman in a short skirt at a club attracts a great deal. So I don’t think the overall societal dress matters, it would be a localized, context-dependent effect.

    From your perspective, what has been your personal observation/experience of men? Am I wrong in what I’ve said regarding men treating provocatively dressed women differently? Do you not agree that the same woman going to a bar on two different nights, one night dressed normally the next night provocatively, would have a different experience from the men she meets? Would her provocative attire not result in her meeting more men, and men of a different nature? Have you not observed men behaving more crudely, more socially and or sexually aggressively towards a provocatively dressed woman? If I’m wrong about those things then my whole premise is clearly flawed, but those have been my unhappy observations of men. If my observations are correct it doesn’t guarantee that some sexual assaults must correlate to dress, but it certainly would be suggestive.

    Shifting gears, in that Time article you point to they relate the horrible case of Jacob Zuma:

    Gender advocates say that 2006 rape trial of prominent politician Jacob Zuma was incredibly damaging to their cause. Zuma, who was elected President this year, was tried and acquitted of raping an HIV-positive family friend. He told the court that the woman had dressed provocatively, in a traditional wrap-around kanga, and that it was against Zulu culture for a man to leave a sexually aroused woman unsatisfied.

    While this piece of filth was almost certainly not motivated in any way by the victim’s attire/behavior, his use of that excuse appears to have carried enough weight with the jury that he was set free. And this represents a very different problem from what I’m talking primarily about in this post; this is back to more of the original issue of people using this as an excuse, which it never is. But in one sense it is the entire point of my position, if I had a daughter traveling to South Africa for spring break, I would certainly warn her, “Many of the men in South Africa believe it is completely acceptable to sexually abuse women, particularly if she dresses or act provocatively. This is obviously completely and entirely wrong and sick. Please be careful and take extra precautions, especially if you choose to go clubbing with your friends or otherwise put yourself in situations where these ethically twisted individuals might feel their actions were acceptable and thus more likely to act.” How would your message to a daughter on her way to South Africa differ? Would you not want to warn her about how their twisted minds work, about how they can excuse their actions and how the court system will apparently sympathetically agree?

  3. Kate makes a great point, women ( men, children, and animals alike) are going to be raped regardless of what they wear. Some think that the rates of rape in South Africa or other countries in africa have to do with the myth that you could get rid of HIV by having sex with a virgin, but it’s obviously not true when people are gang raping. I think it’s just caused by the mindset in the region, a total lack of respect for women as human beings and a desperate quick fix for their itchy blue balls.

  4. Yet the point that Quinxy states is still valid. When a woman dresses provocatively and a man comes up to talk to her, he probably doesnt want to have a conversation about quantum mechanics. If you add that the meeting takes place in a night club, and the guy anticipates on getting laid, he’s probably going to be eyeballing the provocatively dressed woman instead of someone who is more modest in attire, add alcohol and you have yourself all the ingredients for a rape. It’s not always going to happen, but sometimes it will.

    In the USA, most victims of sexual assault are raped by people they know. Women can take the initiative to protect themselves from rape from a stranger by not jogging in unlit areas, avoiding parks at night, not listening to music through a headset in desolate areas, not dressing provocatively. We don’t like to tell women not to dress provocatively to prevent rape because it affirms the notion that a rapist wasn’t at fault for being seduced. I think Quinxys point is just that we shouldnt be offended by the truth. Truth should not be subjected through a political correctness filter, it should be raw and bias-free, and people should accept it as it is.

  5. Bravo for standing up and making a statement. I feel that the nature of the crime blinds a lot of people to the nature of their own actions and that ultimately crime will always exist – what precautions we take against it are our choice. I would not walk through the projects with my cell phone in plain view (or anything else of value for that matter). If I did and I was mugged and beaten, most people would logically conclude that my actions contributed to my subsequent victimisation. If I had not merely been beaten but been knifed and died, then would it surprise anyone afterwards that the people I had known would advise their friends and children to take the precautions that I had not taken? The obvious rationale being that as tragic as the incident had been, an individual still retains a considerable level of autonomy and responsibility in his or her decisions.

    That is what the police officer was trying to say.

  6. Thanks DJ. I obviously agree, though I would say (and have said) that if the constable really did phrase his advice in the way it’s been reported (by those who were outraged) then the advice was worded extremely poorly, and certain open to quite a lot of interpretation. And for all I know the constable may have meant what he said in the most ignorant and misogynistic way (though I certainly suspect not), but even so, the message of SlutWalk is clear and would not be changed, and that’s the message I disagree with.

  7. Thanks, Francine. And I agree that the fundamental problem has essentially nothing to do with provocative clothes or dress. But like any horrific and challenging problem I feel we should do what we can to help the few we can with the solutions we know about even while we struggle to help the rest by looking for and implementing the solutions needed for the real problem.

  8. Great article. Well written and well thought out, though admittedly lacking in proof. It would be hard to accept any study on this subject as proof, but here is one study I found. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1177/1077727X9202100202/abstract
    I’ve only read the abstract but its from a peer reviewed library and is more trustworthy than the media. The study took male and female models and had then dressed in various clothing deemed provocative or not and tallied the incidents of sexual harassment. It showed that provocatively dressed people were more likely to be harassed. As Quinxy has said a man that is likely to harass a woman is also probably more likely to rape a woman too. Therefore a statistically significant number of women are raped because of their provocative clothing.

  9. Thanks for passing that study link along, Paul. Since I don’t have access to the article it’s a little hard for me to see just how the study was done and what its conclusions were, but sounds very interesting.

    As I think I mentioned somewhere I’d love to do even a relatively simple study using the same woman dressed provocatively and not at the same night club / bar on different (but effectively identical) nights. Over each night measure the volume of male attention and interaction, the type of male verbal and physical contact, while trying to have the woman keep her behavior as unrelated to her awareness of her attire as possible; perhaps you’d somehow prevent her from knowing how she’s dressed. And perhaps you could develop during or after the fact profiles of a significant sample of the men who approached her. Ideally you’d want to know if the men approaching were different in ways that might indicate an increased likelihood of unwanted physical or sexual aggression (higher testosterone, decreased respect for requested boundaries, etc.). It’d be hard to do the study just right, but even a crude version could at least be suggestive.

  10. I can appreciate you’re trying to be helpful, but here is some info you might want to read up on as to why perpetuating this idea that “provocative clothing” = “increased chance of rape” is not helpful.

    Here’s a study that has determined that “provocative” clothing does not, in fact, increase one’s chance of being raped:

    http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1109&context=djglp#B139

    And here’s some general info on perpetuating safety advice that doesn’t do anything to keep people safe:

    http://damsel-in-de-tech.blogspot.ca/2012/09/but-im-just-trying-to-be-helpful.html

    http://damsel-in-de-tech.blogspot.ca/2012/08/but-whats-wrong-with-giving-women.html

    Here’s some info that you can incorporate into your everyday to help actually reduce the risk of rape in your community:

    http://damsel-in-de-tech.blogspot.ca/2012/09/what-can-i-do-right-now-today-to-help.html

  11. I just skimmed through the paper you linked, Sexy Dressing Revisted: Does Target Dress Play A Part in Sexual Harassment Cases? and most of it seemed only tangentially relevant to what I am talking about, given the paper’s focus on (primarily workplace) sexual harassment and attire. But there was one part which certainly was relevant, though I haven’t investigated the sources it cites for the statements:

    “While people perceive dress to have an impact on who is assaulted, studies of rapists suggest that victim attire is not a significant factor. Instead, rapists look for signs of passiveness and submissiveness, which, studies suggest, are more likely to coincide with more body-concealing clothing.

    “Those females high in passivity and submissiveness (i.e., those at greatest risk for victimization) wore noticeably more body-concealing clothing (i.e., high necklines, long pants and sleeves, multiple layers).” This suggests that men equate body-concealing clothing with passive and submissive qualities, which are qualities that rapists look for in victims. Thus, those who wore provocative clothes would not be viewed as passive or submissive, and would be less likely to be victims of assault.

    From Sexy Dressing Revisted: Does Target Dress Play A Part in Sexual Harassment Cases?.

    I believe the core idea contained in that quote, that most rapists select victims primarily based on perceived passivity and passive women tend to wear non-provocative clothing. But that doesn’t address my need for directly applicable evidence that a notable subset of rapists and sexual assaulters, in particular those who commit crimes like date rape, do not view provocative clothing incorrectly as blurring or moving the line they should not cross, the one indicating the maximum desired level of sexual contact desired by the partner.

    All studies seem to confirm what this article states, men and women (even highly intelligent ones) largely believe provocative clothing makes one significantly more likely to be sexually harassed and is “one of the causative or precipitating factors in sex crimes against young females”. It seems to me almost impossible that society as a whole believes this message and yet its budding young rapists are not altered or emboldened by it. Rapists routinely claim their victim invited the attack by provocative attire or action. Surely many of these criminals internally justify their heinous actions before and/or after the fact by arguing that they were merely doing what society told them (by way of this message) is natural and expected of them. As I’ve said elsewhere, the number of rapists who are committing these crimes in significant measure because of attire or action is surely a small portion of the whole, but that would still amount to hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of assaults. In a land where we expect our government to recall a baby crib when it’s found that the design creates a 0.005% chance of death to an infant, and we are willing to spend millions removing asbestos from a school where leaving it alone would have represented an almost non-existent risk, why wouldn’t we talk about and seek to better understand and avoid this sexual assault risk?

    A slight tangent, but I go back to the shocking fact that “1 in 4 South African men have admitted to raping a girl or woman”. Surely this staggering number of rapists is not the result of some genetic aberration that makes them more rape-y but the result of messages the rapists have received from their society and from their peers which make raping another human being acceptable. What exactly are those messages they’ve received? More than likely the majority of those South African rapists are shockingly normal people in many regards, and probably consider many people off limits for rape. Surely most of them do not believe anyone should rape their own mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, or other women they believe deserve respect (regardless of their perception of those people’s passivity). They seem to have decided that certain people are eligible for rape (by themselves, by friends, whoever) based on some disgusting formula they’ve rationalized. I have a very hard time believing that within that formula is not a variable representing the victim’s attire and the bogus inferences which they draw from it about the victim’s tendency to accommodate their wishes or be undeserving of their respect.

    I could be entirely and completely wrong, of course, and the truth could be that almost no rapists are emboldened or encouraged by a victim’s provocative dress or behavior, but surely that would be an extraordinary result demanding extraordinary evidence to support it.

  12. You’re asking all women to err on the side of rape myths by surmising that they “could” potentially avoid sexual assault by dressing demurely, when we see that rapists look more for women who look passive and demure. So, taking from that one specific study, you’re actually asking women to put themselves in *more* danger by dressing in a way that has been shown to be targeted by more rapists, just to make sure they’re not a part of a much tinier (if at all present) portion of the victim population who is attacked for “provocative” clothing. In terms of safety and risk reduction, that makes absolutely no sense. To borrow a terrible analogy, that’s like telling people not to wear seatbelts even though they prevent people from being ejected during a crash, because a much tinier proportion might be harmed by their seatbelt. Or, to extend that lacking analogy, it’s like telling people not to wear their seatbelts, but then ignoring that most of the reasons people are harmed in accidents is because of drunk drivers. Regardless of whether there are or are not seat belts used, the victim is still harmed. In the case of rape, there is no more or less harm to be negated based on clothing, unless that clothing happens to be a suit of armour or a bear-proof suit.

    And, yes, we do perpetuate a lot of myths. Here’s the thing about myths – it doesn’t matter how many people believe them or keep telling them, they’re still myths. For example, incest is not uncommon. According to RAINN, 7% of sexual offenders in the US are related to their victims. That is not, by any means, an insignificant proportion. And most rapists are known to their victims – not the stranger-in-the-alley trope that so many people believe.

    A very important point I want to note is that clothing does not incite rape. There is no article of clothing on this earth that can incite rape, that can cause someone to take leave of their sense, that can turn a normal person into a rapist, or that can act as a rape-deterrent. Putting responsibility on inanimate objects to keep someone safe from a person who means to do them harm, doesn’t protect victims but can very well protect rapists. If we keep up repeating these rape myths, people will keep buying them and keep using them to victim-blame.

    It’s each and every one of our responsibility to keep our communities safe from sexual violence by removing these myths for rapists to hide behind and use against their victims.

    So, let’s move on to productive conversations, like how we can be active in making our peer groups safe from sexual violence and learn how to intervene as bystanders:

    http://captainawkward.com/2012/08/08/324-my-friend-the-rapist/

    http://captainawkward.com/2012/08/07/322-323-my-friend-group-has-a-case-of-the-creepy-dude-how-do-we-clear-that-up/

    Stopping rapists from having a social license to operate – THAT stops rape. Standing in front of my wardrobe for a day, debating whether this is the sort of day where a rapist will be more deterred if I wear a skirt or pants, heels or clogs, turtleneck sweater or a tank top – that won’t stop rape. That will keep me indoors at home, where I’m more likely to be raped by someone I knew and trusted enough to hang with me in my sweatpants.

  13. I’m not actually trying to advocate for anything here, at least not consciously. I’m not asking women to do or not do anything. The frustration which prompted me writing on this topic is the seeming unwillingness of most people (particularly progressives) to openly discuss this topic, versus knee-jerk attacking anyone who (mistakenly or not) thinks there is a discussion worth having. As the study you point out shows, the majority of intelligent (and unintelligent) people believe promiscuous clothing and action correlates to rape, so an open discussion seems to me desperately needed, either to correct this widely believed error or to protect ourselves accordingly. It may be that neither side sees any point in the discussion since they feel the other side is unmovable, but in that case I wish the public record would record at least that conclusion so that people like me who come along know that’s why the discussion isn’t occurring.

    But, back to the specific points you raise. I’m not asking women to dress demurely, not at all. The most I say somewhere in my posts or comments is something like, if my daughter was going to South Africa for a study abroad I would, motivated by their shocking rape prevalence, say to her something like, “Be careful, avoid traveling alone or with people you don’t know, and dress appropriate to the situation.” I might add something about taking actions appropriate to your dress, but I’m on the fence about the usefulness of that warning. Dressing in a bikini at the beach is appropriate, garners little attention, singles no one person out for anything. I don’t think wearing a bikini at the beach increases one’s chances of being sexually assaulted. But, dressing in a bikini and walking through an urban bar district late at night produces a different level of attention and an attention which I do believe would increase one’s chances of being sexually assaulted from certain people, but I do not know of any study to prove or disprove that. And, as the study you mentioned says, dressing on the opposite end of the spectrum, demurely, and walking through that urban bar district would increase one’s chances of being sexually assaulted.

    Everything else you say I think I agree with. I’m in no way suggesting this discussion is where our collective rape-fighting energy should be spent, not at all. It would be a waste of those energies. It was simply an interesting topic for me along the lines I suggested, where people like me grow up being given lots of seemingly conflicting messages and we know what lines we’re supposed to parrot when the discussion comes up, but we’re not sure why intelligent, rational people can’t talk about the topic. I’m not married to an agenda. If women are safer dressing provocatively, great! If women are safer dressing demurely, great! If women are safer wearing some sort of Taser body suit, great! If women are safer with men being required to register their penises at birth and having a Consent ™ chip implanted which only activates their sexual organs in the presence of a partner’s informed consent, great!

    I don’t want people being raped or assaulted, so pretty much anything which reasonably achieves that (and some things that some would argue might not be so reasonable) I may be for.

  14. You know I was catcalled and demeaned as a woman and in no way was I going to a bar at night. I was going to the library when these men kept hinting disgusting things to me. I was wearing a mini skirt and a t shirt when these men did this. Men should learn some manners. It was daytime. In no way should you disrespect me if I am wearing something like that it is rude. It made me feel like these men had no self control and were acting like little children.

  15. In all honesty there will always be animals out there no matter how much society progresses. One cannot simply just ‘check out’ the forest and when they’re approached by a grizzly bear say “Don’t hurt me I’m just walking by”. You would minimise any risks where possible (in this case wielding a gun).


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