In January 2011, a cop in Canada (who could be in any town in any country, when you think about it) was recorded as saying, “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." This, thankfully, sparked the hearts and minds of the women in Canada. The idea that what one wears is a valid cause for rape is ludicrous and beyond insulting. Some of my favorite sign slogans for previous slutwalks have been:
·Don’t tell us how to dress, tell men how not to rape
·I was wearing pants and a sweater. Was it my fault too?
·This outfit is not a promise
·My clothes are not my consent
·NOT asking for it
·In what language does short skirt mean yes?
·I was a child. My PJs weren’t sexy.
·Believe it or not, my short skirt has nothing to do with you
·The skirt is not excuse to rape
·Nobody asks to be raped. Nobody deserves it.
·End victim blaming and slut shaming
· Ask me what I’m asking for
The idea that what a woman wears is the reason she has been raped is older than I care to consider. As I’ve disclosed my rape from high school over the years, countless people have asked me what I was wearing. There are few things as insulting as being questioned about your own guilt when your body has been violated in an extreme. It does not matter if a woman was naked and drunk and high, lying out on her front lawn, it does not mean “please come have sex with me.”
Even in our modern world, I am reminded of several times when victim blaming is alive and well, not to bring up my own co-worker’s situation mentioned in June’s newsletter. In 1998 an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “Go Fish” (season two, episode 20, for those of who you may want to look it up on Netflix) Buffy is attacked by a fellow student, who happens to be on the swim team (hot star athlete-clearly couldn’t be a rapist). Buffy, being the hard-core feminist example that she is, all but breaks his nose. When the coach
complains Buffy is accused of “leading him on.”The student says through his ice pack, “Come on Coach, I mean look at the way she dresses.” No one makes a stand on this issue, the principal and the coach (as well as the rest of the swim team and other students) all go along with the idea that Buffy was to blame. If that doesn’t plant the seed of asking for it through wardrobe choices in young minds, I don’t know what would.
Another example: thanks to our former Pres GW Bush, abstinence-only education is rampant in America. Another epidemic that no one can see over our bullshit war on drugs and war on terror (which I’m convinced causes more terror than it alleviates, but that’s another topic for another day). Children and teenagers are shown in public schools how one can quickly become dirty and spoiled forever by comparing themselves to a piece of tape. The teacher takes a piece of tape, places it on her arm, using it as a metaphor for sex. When the tape is removed, it has dead skin, hairs, and general yuck all over it. It can
no longer be used as tape should be, since it won’t stick to anything. Thus, if girls (normally girls, not all students) have sex, they will become dirty and useless. I’m sure this is harmful when rape happens, because what it causes it for the other girls to shun the victim, blaming her and slut shaming their own sister. Jessica Valenti in her book The Purity Myth and Leora Tanenbaum in her book Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation covers ideas just like this in greater detail. (I highly recommend these books,
by the way.)
Ariel Levy in her book Female Chauvinist Pigs (another great read)
explains in chapter five how girls are groomed and taught to dress as skimpy as
possible, but are told not to ever let a boy do anything to them, because then
they would be sluts. Girls dress purposely to attract and be as “slutty” as
possible, but all the time knowing full-well that they cannot act on these
choices in outward appearance. Boys can do whatever they like, but a girl has
better not seek out her own sexual goals or desires. Surely then the world would
end, leading to zombie Nazis riding dinosaurs, no doubt.
These are just the first handful of examples that come to mind from my
own experiences. If one researched this idea, I’m sure they would come away with
many more examples of the same idea. We’re teaching our children (and ourselves)
that what we wear and what we do (drinking, smoking pot, hanging around late at
night, etc) invites others to rape us. I am proud to be of a time when women
have chosen as a collective to not stand for this any longer. Under the bold
banner of “because we’ve had enough” women are marching the streets in protest.
In October it comes to New Orleans to take her turn standing up, and Lordisa
knows that I will be out in front. Join with us. Spread the word, start your own
city into a Slut-loving frenzy, and practice your best chants. Take it
personally. It’s time to place the blame where it belongs: away from my clothes
and square on the sickos who have violated me and my sisters.
Want to know more? Check out these sources:
The first Slutwalk’s homepage: http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/
The facebook event for the NOLA Slutwalk:
Photo album from the Slutwalk in Houston, TX: http://www.29-95.com/gallery/seensters-slutwalk-7911
The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti: http://astore.amazon.com/wellwoemanlol-20/detail/1580053149
Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation by Leora Tanenbaum:
Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy: