Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Sometimes, the stupid, it burns! This time, the issue at hand is a serial rapist attacking women in NYC, and the cops issued a warning to women in the area to not wear skirts as such clothing might give the rapist the idea that he had "easy access". Similar warnings in Toronto have given rise to the recent "slutwalk" movement, where self-styled feminists have taken to marching in drag-queen getup to protest against a cop's warning that dressing in a certain way is likely to provoke a sexual attack. Now, a few points have to be made:

1) The indignation among the protesters seems to amount to "how dare you shame the victim here!" While I'm inclined to disagree with the police statements in both cases, this indignant response is just plain stupidity. NO ONE is blaming the victim here, any more than a policeman reminding you to lock your car doors is blaming you when someone steals your car. The cops believe that certain types of clothing will attract attackers, much the same way wearing flashy jewelry will attract a mugger. So drop the cloak of victimhood, sister!

2) I'm not aware of any evidence that rapists are any more likely to attack a woman based on the way she's dressed. Of course, dressing a certain way will draw attention--desired or otherwise--and women who aren't morons will know that this will draw attention even from men (or gay women) who aren't the intended targets. But unwanted attention is a far cry from a criminal act, and unless the link is really there then the advice from the cops serves only to support the baggy sweatpants industry.

3) That said, I can think of more useful advice in terms of how a person is dressed and rape prevention. If the cops were to say "avoid wearing flip flops or open-toed high heels because then you can't run or defend yourself from an attacker" then this argument is hard to dispute. And really, people shouldn't be going out on the town in flip flops anyway.

4) In sum, the protest against the police statements should be boiled down to a far more reasonable "we get what you're saying, but there's no reason to believe dressing slutty will make you more likely to be raped" rather than "damn you for blaming the victim!"

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