02/02/2017

Are drunk girls wearing revealing clothes asking for it?

No.

No. No. No.

I cannot believe this question has even been debated recently.  Last week, while I was off work, I caught bits of This Morning.  There was a woman on it one particular day who said that women should think about where they are, what they wear, and how much they drink to prevent being raped or sexually assaulted.

It's absolutely barbaric to suggest that women wearing short skirts, low-cut tops, or skimpy outfits should take a portion of the blame for someone else not being able to keep their hands to themselves or control their sexual advances.

I used to wear all kinds of skimpy clothes when I was at uni.  I enjoyed the whole 'short shorts' phase - like so many other girls did during the 2010-2012 period - and would always wear something that showed a lot of leg.  That wasn't an open invitation for men to touch me, or come onto me.

Nine times out of ten when I went out at uni, I was dressing to make myself feel good, not to attract the attention of blokes.  Do guys really think that I would spend all that money on clothes and make-up, then all that time getting ready, just to make myself more attractive to them?  Nope.  It was about me feeling confident - whether it be body confident or just generally confident in myself - and me feeling happy.

This image shows everything that is wrong with those assumptions.
Am I automatically a whore just because I liked wearing short shorts on a night out?  Am I asking for it just because the skirt or dress I wear skims my bum?

No.

The debate came after a new survey claimed that one third of people blame women wearing short skirts for sexual assaults.  Shockingly, it was a third of women surveyed who said other women should shoulder the responsibility for their attack if they were wearing provocative clothing on a night out.

I couldn't believe it - women blaming other women?  Seriously?!  What happened to girl power and having each other's backs?  Women saying this about each other just makes it ok for guys to think the same.

Like the meaningful moment in Mean Girls where Ms Norbury says the girls have to stop calling each other sluts and whores, because it just makes it ok for guys to call girls sluts and whores.  This is just like that.

One of the ladies on This Morning discussing the survey was a journalist called Angela Epstein.  She said that women release a level of personal responsibility if they put themselves in a situation where the element of vulnerability may be heightened.  She compared it to leaving the door to her home unlocked because someone may break in.

Only someone of a certain mindset would walk into a home if they saw the door left wide open.  Most people, if they didn't just ignore it and walk straight past, would knock on the door, ask if there was anyone inside, see if they were ok etc.  Only opportunists, those with a different train of thought, would see it as an invitation to walk in and help themselves to whatever they fancied.  Women wearing revealing clothes, by the same comparison, is not an invitation for men to take advantage.  And I am pretty sure most normal, stand-up men wouldn't do so, so the whole debate seemed rather pointless to me.

Speaking after the item aired, she said she wasn't trying to blame women for being raped.  She was simply highlighting the fact that dressing 'provocatively' makes women vulnerable to predators and opportunists.  Describing something as being provocative is so subjective, though.  What provokes one person may not provoke another.  So where is the line drawn?  It is not provocative to wear a short skirt.  Nor is it provocative to get drunk and dance like Beyonce.  Not in my eyes, anyway.  Ask someone else, they may say it is.

A few times I remember guys grabbing my bum on a night out and I would always send them packing.  I punched a guy once who would not stop touching my bum, despite me asking him politely four times to stop.  However, of all the skimpy and revealing outfits I wore on all the hundreds of nights out I must have gone on at uni, it was an incredibly rare occurrence.

Why, just because a girl is wearing something that makes her feel confident and good about herself, should it be ok for a stranger to try and feel her up?  If she was wearing a sign that said "grope me, I'm yours", I would totally understand.  But nothing about a short skirt says that.

By attributing short skirts as the reason for sexual assaults/rape, it almost gives a free pass to people, who will use that to their advantage and as an excuse.  I can see it now - "oh, well she was wearing hotpants so she was asking for it".

'Asking for it' - I hate that.  Nobody is ever, ever, ever asking for it by what they wear.

We should be able to live in a world where we can wear what we want without judgement and without people thinking it's ok to use that as an excuse or invitation.  Just like we should be able to live in a world where if we leave our front door unlocked, someone won't let themselves in and steal from us.

Just like, by the same token, guys who go on a night out without a shirt - whether it be as part of fancy dress or just because they feel like it - aren't inviting women to touch their torso.  I know men fall victim to the same assumptions - 'he's got his shirt off so he wants me to touch his abs' - I am in no way saying it's a women-only problem.  The topic of discussion on This Morning was simply just related to the survey about women.

When it comes down to it, the only person responsible and to blame for a sexual attack is the attacker

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