Friday, May 6, 2011

Piece of Advice #94: Put your clothes back on. PLEASE.

I was under the impression that the nearest Slutwalk to me was going to be in Detroit.  Then someone linked to a truly local Slutwalk on Facebook.  For those of you not in the know, Slutwalk started in Toronto as a protest against a police officer there who told women they could lessen their chances of getting assaulted if they didn't "dress like sluts."  So a bunch of women got together and decided to dress like sluts because they could and have a parade while they were at it.  In Toronto.  In early spring.  Good call.

When I checked out the local Slutwalk page, I saw this video featured as inspirational:



There are times when I feel I have truly fallen through the rabbit hole.  Now is such a time.  Women apparently feel that the new frontier of empowerment hinges on their ability to dress like brothel workers and demand others respect them for their bad taste and attention whoring.  For this women are marching: to look like the best lay a gold-mining saloon could offer; as in, not obviously diseased.

Uh huh.

Look, let's be honest with ourselves as women.  Can we all agree that we don't go out in a pink halter tops and satin hot pants because of the comfort factor?  We don't dress that way to impress our girlfriends with our sense of style either.  Women dress in miniscule, tight, sexy clothing to get the attention of men.  And it is effective.  Unfortunately, women can't always control how that attention channels itself.  And instead of acknowledging that limitation - that this is a built-in trade-off for guaranteed male attention - they throw a group tantrum, wag a bunch of fingers, and attempt to control the reaction they provoke through chanting, and shaming, and what have you.

Wouldn't it just be easier to wear figure flattering clothing that manages to cover up the essentials?  Women looked gorgeous in Edwardian clothing.  The success of Mad Men has to hinge in no small part on wardrobe envy - women and men staring at how fantastic people used to look in tailored, buttoned up clothes. Most of the time, with clothes, more is more.  Dress decently, and you spare yourself the possibility of trouble.  You also spare the rest of us all of the parts of you we'd rather not see, but you force us to view.

And in other news: women passionately defend one teacher's right to write porn on her off time.   While this is clearly within this teacher's legal right to self expression, we have come a long way down a twisty side road to Perdition if the right to write (and read) porn is what women will sputter and emote over.

66 comments:

  1. Grerp, what do you have against good old fashioned ghetto wisdom? She has a point. Just because someone wears a uniform doesn't mean people should make assumptions. I like to wear jumpsuits, and my favorite color is orange. You would be surprised at the number of people who have assumed I was an escaped convict. And the people should know better like police officers are the absolute worst this way*.

    It's not me, it's them. People need to get a clue.

    *The problem is so bad I'm seriously considering stopping wearing orange altogether and switching to black and white stripes. I never thought it would come to this.

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  2. dalrock, that is hilarious :)

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  3. Hmm.

    "I want what I want, when I want it" is now "liberation"?

    There is a serious problem here. Some people clearly believe they are entitled to act like 2-year old children, and to be protected by the state from any possible bad consequences.

    That is a recipe for a police state. And the US is already well down that road as it is.

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  4. I've always thought that the most feminine a woman could look was in a dress. I can't understand why women today think wearing mini-shorts and tank tops is a good idea.

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  5. Excluding the exposure factor, there is an issue of context. If you are playing volleyball, running cross country, or playing rugby, shorts are more than acceptable -- they are generally recommended. If you are dancing ballroom, the lovely 60s dresses and suits look fantastic.

    On the street -- Smart dressing works. I never get compliments if in a T-shirt and cargo pants. I do if I wear a jacket. (and there are female equivalents).

    Every adult knows this. If you want to respected, dress that way. This is a demonstration of the profound foolishness of the modern priestesses of feminism.

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  6. There was something that Alte said once on the Spearhead and I never forgot it. It was on a thread about Slut shaming which had a picture of under dressed women at the top of the article. Alte had asked the question if any of the men could remember any of the 'lady's' faces. Then to make a point she linked to a picture of a Muslim woman wearing a hijab and asked the same thing.

    I believe her comment got downvoted because she was female, but her point was strong nonetheless. Sluts are forgettable, nothing worth remembering about a woman willing to give herself up for free. A woman who values herself will not act or dress in such a fashion.

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  7. ok as i teach my 10 yr old daughter. you dress "sexy" so people will think about sex when they look at you. you don't dress "sexy" to make people think about your intellectual capacity, your personality or character. so if you go to a place full of guys dressed "sexy" you WANT everyone of those guys to think about sex when they look at you, preferably sex with you. If you are comfortable and feel safe with every man in the place mentally picturing you in whatever perverted position he can imagine and then talking to you go for it. she has never seen "sexy" clothes the same. sean

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  8. Excuse me, I just realized that I am confused about this. Feminism has taught for a long, long time the idea that "rape is not about sex, it is about power". So if that is true, why are the women in slutwalks dressing as sexually as possible, in their protest of possible rape?

    PS: Interestingly, the word I must type to post this is "molest".

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  9. My thought on that kind of attire--and thanks Grerp for helping my diet, that video was disgusting--is that it tells every prospective attacker that (a) the woman is not dressed to escape or fight back and (b) the woman does not have a man in her life who will protect her.

    Inciting lust? Nah, you can lust after people in a bunny suit (I've watched it happen). However, immodest/lewd clothing does tell criminals that you're vulnerable.

    I'll be fair to the "singer," though. I think that most hip-hop artists of BOTH sexes are slutty.

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  10. Some woman don't seem to understand that people will judge you by what you're wearing, then treat you a certain way based on that judgement.

    No amount of insults and shaming will change that.

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  11. The problem is the issue of ENTITLEMENT. Many women believe they are "entitled" to dress however they please and don't think there should be any consequences attached.

    I can recall, at a blog I used to frequent in the past, there was a controversy that was started over the author referring to teenage girls' outfits as "parading their bodies." She teaches at a boarding school.

    So many women took offense to her statement and accused her of "slut-shaming," and amazingly enough there were lots of women who came to her defense. However, the women who were in opposition found that sentiment "misogynistic" and "repressive." One woman even went so far as to say that "the human body should be celebrated"-- but is "celebrating" the human body by wearing tiny shorts, tiny miniskirts, and low-cut tops celebration, or lewd exposure? What is there to "celebrate" if we are dressing in ways to bring excessive sexual attention to one's self, and as a result some guy treats you like an easy woman because you are dressed like an easy woman?

    For some reason, "celebrating" the human body, especially a woman's body to feminists, is equal to dressing scantily for the purposes of sexual attention, but to then eschew that attention when it's received. This sort of "celebration" is considered more welcome versus celebrating the birth of a 4th child.


    -Lia S.

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  12. To Lia S.

    "Many women believe they are "entitled" to dress however they please and don't think there should be any consequences attached."

    That's because there *shouldn't* be consequences. In a perfect world, there wouldn't be. Of course, we don't live in a perfect world.

    "some guy treats you like an easy woman because you are dressed like an easy woman".

    The problem for me with comments like yours and indeed with Grerp's original post, is that they ignore what's at the root of the problem. Women who go on 'slut walks' aren't claiming that dressing provocatively doesn't inflame men - just that these men are nonetheless to blame if they can't (or, more to the point, won't) control themselves. Men (even rapists) aren't poor little dears at the mercy of their own sexual urges. They can rein it in.

    I think women are sick of the buck always stopping with them on this issue and that's why the policeman's comments were offensive. Was he right? Would they be safer if they weren't dressed to entice? Sadly, that may well be the case. Does that somehow liberate men from their responsibility to treat a fellow human being with respect and compassion? Of course not. Is it acceptible if grown men crow with triumph when things go wrong for the mini-skirt and halter-top clad hottie? Hell no.

    To Grerp: I find it interesting that you seem unable to distinguish between erotic romance and pornography. I suppose the line dividing them isn't clear cut to everyone. How could it be when no one can agree on a definition of obscenity?

    As a romance writer myself (though not of erotic romances per se), I would disagree that these books are written simply to 'get people off'. I include graphic sex scenes in my stories (though usually only one or two) because I see sexual union as an essential componant in any romantic relationship. It makes no sense to describe every other facet of a relationship in detail but skip the sex. Why? Because it's dirty? Surely you don't believe that.

    I understand that not everyone is comfortable reading detailed sex scenes and that's fine. But to dismiss erotic romance as porn seems thoughtless at best.

    - Anne

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  13. I can't think of any other dimension of crime that we deal with by essentially expecting the criminals to shape up. Assault, murder, robbery, fraud...lots of damage being done to innocent individuals, yet we do not assume that we can eliminate any of these with more social reprogramming. No, we do the sensible thing - assume criminals exists, ask people to take precautions not to advertise themselves as victims, and then when crime does occur, prosecute the perpetrators when they can be found.

    These Slutwalks are basically adolescent style tantrums: "You can't tell me what to wear!" No, we can't any more. I guess. But what you wear sends a message, as Dalrock amusingly pointed out above. Dressing provocatively also provokes a reaction. It does not cause rape, but it certainly does not do anything for relations between the sexes for men - who we all know are visually stimulated in a way and to a degree women are not - to be taunted all the time with visions of what they can't have. And, frankly, I don't want to look at all the exposed flesh. Not because I'm embarrassed or maidenly - who can continue to blush for long in our shameless, depraved culture? - but because most of it is pretty unsightly, and yet I am forced to view it all of the time.

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  14. Anne, the fact of the matter is that Ms. Mays has released about ten novels in the past seven years while working a full time job. I think it's safe to say that these works are anything but great literature, and judging by the covers--men and women in states of undress and in positions that can only be considered bizaare--it's also safe to say that these works are in fact porn for women.

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  15. To Grerp: I find it interesting that you seem unable to distinguish between erotic romance and pornography. I suppose the line dividing them isn't clear cut to everyone. How could it be when no one can agree on a definition of obscenity?

    I have no problem distinguishing. Erotica is porn. Written porn. There is a gradual increase in gratuitous content starting with just plain sex in most romance novels, moving through varying degrees of kink into erotica. Your average romance novel has quite a lot less space given over to sex and more to storytelling. If you are reading erotica, you are not reading it for the "plots." There may be plots; that is not the point, however.

    Really, if we are being honest, romance novels serve the same function as porn for women: they allow women to enjoy what they most like in relationships outside of having to have relationships or fulfill the more mundane responsibilities of those relationships, to temporarily live vicariously through characters. Romance isn't porn because it completely fixated on sex and it doesn't exploit real people's bodies to excite others sexually. But the explosion of romance novels in popularity mirrors the explosion of porn because men and women are getting what they need and used to get (to some extent) out of real relationships from easier, artificial sources. Obviously, married or otherwise coupled people also watch porn or read romance novels too.

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  16. "I think it's safe to say that these works are anything but great literature"

    I think it's safe to say that no one, least of all Mays herself, is trying to argue that these books are great literature. Mine certainly aren't. But it's beside the point. Genre fiction is a form of light entertainment and that has its own value. I started reading romance in my senior year of an english lit degree. I'd just completed a Henry James marathon and I needed something fun. James was a genius but hardly a barrel of laughs.

    Grerp, correct me if I'm wrong but erotica isn't the same thing as erotic romance. It's a subtle distinction but, in the context of your argument, an important one. The sex in erotic romance is not the point of the story but- because the descriptions are explicit- it isn't lumped in with the sort of mainstream romance that you yourself used to review.

    I don't really understand your last paragraph. Are you saying that there's a danger the romance reader will start to prefer novels to her real relationship or that real relationships can't hope to measure up? Because, either way, that seems like a very negative attitude. Both interpretations assume that romance readers are a bit... well, dim. Presumably in your time at AAR you must have known a lot of romance reading women- both single and in relationships. Is this really how they seemed to you?

    As for trying to stop rape by telling the rapists to shape up, you have a point. But we don't shame the victims of burglary or muggings to the same extent either.

    As for all the exposed flesh, I think the word 'taunt' is a little hyperbolic. If my husband sees a woman dressed that way, it turns his head, but it doesn't make him angry. He doesn't feel taunted or teased. Mostly he just enjoys the view. I don't mind because I know I married a good one and that he is in control of himself.

    I get that you don't want to look at other peoples' naked body parts. I don't either particularly. But I don't understand the pointed aversion implied in the word 'unsightly'. You mean, you don't like it exposed because it's fat or hairy or dotted with cellulite? I don't get how that's relevant.

    I'm starting to feel like I've come in to your house, eaten your food and then proceeded to criticise everything. I like to debate - I hope it doesn't come across as rude.

    - Anne

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  17. @Ann
    Men (even rapists) aren't poor little dears at the mercy of their own sexual urges. They can rein it in.

    99% of us do rein it in. The other 1% or so aren't inhibited by morality or threat of imprisonment. They certainly won't be likely to re-contemplate their attitude on rape by women parading as sluts.

    But actual rapists aren't the target audience of this protest. The question of rape is just a canard, an excuse to parade around as sluts and demand that ordinary people not think any differently of them. I think they should do it every month, or better yet every week. They will eventually change attitudes, but not in the way they are hoping to.

    See also: Gay pride parades.

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  18. By the way I think I have solved my orange jumpsuit problem. I noticed the bulk of the unfortunate incidents occurred when I was practicing for the local 10k run. I've stenciled in my race entrant number on the front and back of my suits. Now the police will know I'm a runner and not an escapee.

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  19. Anne, for reference, there is a reality that as women prefer romance novels to real books, yes, their relationships are hindered in the same way that men suffer when they use porn. In the same way a man realizes "hey, my wife isn't 40DD-24-36 like Miss April," the woman realizes "Hey, MY husband isn't making me tingle all over every time he enters the room."

    In short, both porn for men and smut for women has the same result; unrealistic expectations of real life, which makes even the best marriage a disappointment.

    And Ms. Mays is writing it, and appropriately, she has loving affection for.....

    .....a cat. Suffice it to say that her avocation is not exactly relationship magic, to put it mildly.

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  20. @Bike Bubba

    I didn't mean to derail things into a discussion of the merits or otherwise of romance novels, but I can't resist responding to your comments.

    Firstly, I heard Mays is married with grown-up children.

    Secondly, I myself am married and a reader and writer of mainstream romance novels that tend to include one or two fairly explicit sex scenes. My husband might not make me tingle every time he enters the room but, as I'm not an idiot, I know that excited feeling is something that comes and goes in a marriage. When it goes, you trust that it'll come back eventually. In between, you have your friendship which is just as precious. Only a complete muppet would expect their life to be like a romance novel. Why do you insist on thinking women are stupid?

    - Anne

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  21. Anne -
    I don't really understand your last paragraph. Are you saying that there's a danger the romance reader will start to prefer novels to her real relationship or that real relationships can't hope to measure up? Because, either way, that seems like a very negative attitude. Both interpretations assume that romance readers are a bit... well, dim. Presumably in your time at AAR you must have known a lot of romance reading women- both single and in relationships. Is this really how they seemed to you?

    I've had women tell me that they had to stop reading romance novels because it messed with their expectations of their own relationships. I think romance novels can be very addictive. I've heard readers say many, many times that they won't read outside the genre and they need that HEA. The popularity of the genre suggests that it taps into a need and fills it in way that other media do not.

    I haven't read much fiction in the last two years. Seriously, I crashed and burned on genre fiction. I still have my favorite authors and a lot of books in my library, but I don't want to get into an addictive or compulsive reading pattern again.

    I get that you don't want to look at other peoples' naked body parts. I don't either particularly. But I don't understand the pointed aversion implied in the word 'unsightly'. You mean, you don't like it exposed because it's fat or hairy or dotted with cellulite? I don't get how that's relevant.

    The Slutwalk pics online are visually chaotic. I think my dissatisfaction with modern dress bleeds in here as well. We've really descended into a slovenly sort of fashion in the US. Sweatpants, jeans, ripped clothing, messy hair. I long for a neater, trimmer, more modest time, a time when there was a way to dress for school, for dinner, for church, for work, and everyone knew what those ways were. Comfort and individual expression have their place, but we've really given them #1 for too long now.

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  22. @Grerp

    I think that almost anything can be addictive. There are the obvious culprits- drugs, alcohol etc- and the somewhat less obvious- shopping, t.v, computer games, exercise. Anything- if done to excess- can be harmful. If someone finds themself becoming dependent on genre fiction in the way you describe then I agree they're better off stopping. Everything in moderation, I guess.

    - Anne

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  23. Anne, I'm glad that those novels haven't been relationship poison to you personally, but the testimony of those I know who have to deal with the fallout of broken relationships--pastors and such--is more or less that as they deal with broken relationships, they notice the men using porn and the women using soap operas and romance novels.

    The reality here is that, yes, all too often both men and women are stupid, to use your words, and do not see the damage they're doing to themselves in their assumptions about relationships until it's too late.

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  24. @ Ann,

    Ah your response sounds like typical liberal feminist who doesn't believe in personal responsibility. I am not surprised.

    Life comes with consequences, and that includes how we dress. Fashion choices have always been a part of self-expression, and we willingly choose to express a certain aspect of ourselves. Whether we want to scream "hottie on the prowl," or subtly say "good girl to take to mom," we are expressing ourselves in a basic manner.

    I think women are sick of the buck always stopping with them on this issue and that's why the policeman's comments were offensive. Was he right? Would they be safer if they weren't dressed to entice? Sadly, that may well be the case. Does that somehow liberate men from their responsibility to treat a fellow human being with respect and compassion? Of course not. Is it acceptible if grown men crow with triumph when things go wrong for the mini-skirt and halter-top clad hottie? Hell no.

    The policeman is correct because he is probably tired and frustrated with seeing young women get into bad situations that could have been prevented or even lessened in intensity based on how a woman was dressed. Why does it have to always go back to a "man's responsibility," when it was the WOMAN who chose to dress that way in the first place? You continue to ignore the visual nature of men and expect them to act like women.

    A man who notices a scantily clad woman late at night in a bar or a club cannot be faulted for getting aroused and wanting to do something further with the woman, especially if she is openly flirting and giving him signals. He didn't make her dress that way, he didn't make her go to the bar or club, and he's not making her thrust her hips forward (btw, that's a primal signal that screams "MATE ME!"), nor show her cleavage.

    We are not talking about a woman who is dressed appropriately, tastefully, and takes precautions. We are talking about women who dress like Christina, think it's empowering to show their skivvies, and then whine and cry wolf because a man took notice.

    -Lia S.

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  25. Lia, forgive the rushed response but I'm taking my son to school. (It's 8:40am where I am). Some of my other responses and points have been lost by some sort of blogspot problem, somewhat undermining my true standpoint.

    I absolutely believe in personal responsibility. It's your logic I find fault with - the woman dresses or behaves in a manner that is ill-advised and is therefore responsible for her own rape and the man, according to you, just can't help himself? Personally, I have more respect for both men and women than that.

    Women should take responsibility for their own safety but men should exercise some self-control.

    - Anne

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  26. I hadn't realized some of the comments were eaten. I'll see if I can find them in my mail and repost.

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  27. Women should take responsibility for their own safety but men should exercise some self-control.


    Virtually all men exercise self control all the time, all day. To assert otherwise is an insult, albeit in a passive-aggressive manner.

    Your fiction is porn. I do not refer to the explicit sexual parts so much as to the idealized relationships that you present. Just as visual porn presents women that most men cannot hope to attain, your fiction presents relationships with men that most women cannot hope to attain.

    Therefore your porn is emotional pornography. No doubt this annoys or even angers you. Nevertheless, it is true.

    And I repeat, you insult men terribly with your passive-aggressive demand. I could explain in detail, but frankly I don't care to do so at this time.

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  28. Mister Y

    I've tried to see the passive-aggressiveness in my last comment. All I can think is that you think I implied that a lot of men don't exercise self-control. On reflection, I can see how my words could be interpreted that way but it's something of which I was honestly unaware as I wrote them. I'll just have to become a better writer because my hope in posting was to engage in a debate, not to change anyone's mind and certainly not to offend.

    What are we even talking about here? Is anyone seriously saying that a rape-victim is to blame for her own rape? Or are we really debating standards of modesty? At this point, I think the issue has become so clouded that further debate is impossible. You are right. There is no point in our furthering explaining ourselves to one another.

    As to your assertion that my fiction is porn, while obviously I don't agree with you, it doesn't anger me- though I suspect you hoped it would.

    - Anne

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  29. Great post! The old adage, just because you can doesn't mean you should, has stuck around for a reason. I actually started a blog juxtaposing the old and new, and a lot of it deals with female fashion (I get more hits when I put up girl pics). Drop by an see if you like :)

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  30. Okay, I meant to post earlier, but I got busy and forgot.

    Bike Bubba said (5/11):
    "Anne, for reference, there is a reality that as women prefer romance novels to real books, yes, their relationships are hindered in the same way that men suffer when they use porn. In the same way a man realizes "hey, my wife isn't 40DD-24-36 like Miss April," the woman realizes "Hey, MY husband isn't making me tingle all over every time he enters the room."

    In short, both porn for men and smut for women has the same result; unrealistic expectations of real life, which makes even the best marriage a disappointment.

    And Ms. Mays is writing it, and appropriately, she has loving affection for.....

    .....a cat. Suffice it to say that her avocation is not exactly relationship magic, to put it mildly. "

    Anne said (5/11):

    "@Bike Bubba

    I didn't mean to derail things into a discussion of the merits or otherwise of romance novels, but I can't resist responding to your comments.

    Firstly, I heard Mays is married with grown-up children.

    Secondly, I myself am married and a reader and writer of mainstream romance novels that tend to include one or two fairly explicit sex scenes. My husband might not make me tingle every time he enters the room but, as I'm not an idiot, I know that excited feeling is something that comes and goes in a marriage. When it goes, you trust that it'll come back eventually. In between, you have your friendship which is just as precious. Only a complete muppet would expect their life to be like a romance novel. Why do you insist on thinking women are stupid?

    - Anne "

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  31. dalrock said (5/11):
    "By the way I think I have solved my orange jumpsuit problem. I noticed the bulk of the unfortunate incidents occurred when I was practicing for the local 10k run. I've stenciled in my race entrant number on the front and back of my suits. Now the police will know I'm a runner and not an escapee. "

    dalrock also said:

    "@Ann
    Men (even rapists) aren't poor little dears at the mercy of their own sexual urges. They can rein it in.

    99% of us do rein it in. The other 1% or so aren't inhibited by morality or threat of imprisonment. They certainly won't be likely to re-contemplate their attitude on rape by women parading as sluts.

    But actual rapists aren't the target audience of this protest. The question of rape is just a canard, an excuse to parade around as sluts and demand that ordinary people not think any differently of them. I think they should do it every month, or better yet every week. They will eventually change attitudes, but not in the way they are hoping to.

    See also: Gay pride parades."

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anne also said (5/11):

    ""I think it's safe to say that these works are anything but great literature"

    I think it's safe to say that no one, least of all Mays herself, is trying to argue that these books are great literature. Mine certainly aren't. But it's beside the point. Genre fiction is a form of light entertainment and that has its own value. I started reading romance in my senior year of an english lit degree. I'd just completed a Henry James marathon and I needed something fun. James was a genius but hardly a barrel of laughs.

    Grerp, correct me if I'm wrong but erotica isn't the same thing as erotic romance. It's a subtle distinction but, in the context of your argument, an important one. The sex in erotic romance is not the point of the story but- because the descriptions are explicit- it isn't lumped in with the sort of mainstream romance that you yourself used to review.

    I don't really understand your last paragraph. Are you saying that there's a danger the romance reader will start to prefer novels to her real relationship or that real relationships can't hope to measure up? Because, either way, that seems like a very negative attitude. Both interpretations assume that romance readers are a bit... well, dim. Presumably in your time at AAR you must have known a lot of romance reading women- both single and in relationships. Is this really how they seemed to you?

    As for trying to stop rape by telling the rapists to shape up, you have a point. But we don't shame the victims of burglary or muggings to the same extent either.

    As for all the exposed flesh, I think the word 'taunt' is a little hyperbolic. If my husband sees a woman dressed that way, it turns his head, but it doesn't make him angry. He doesn't feel taunted or teased. Mostly he just enjoys the view. I don't mind because I know I married a good one and that he is in control of himself.

    I get that you don't want to look at other peoples' naked body parts. I don't either particularly. But I don't understand the pointed aversion implied in the word 'unsightly'. You mean, you don't like it exposed because it's fat or hairy or dotted with cellulite? I don't get how that's relevant.

    I'm starting to feel like I've come in to your house, eaten your food and then proceeded to criticise everything. I like to debate - I hope it doesn't come across as rude.

    - Anne "

    I think that's it for the comments that were lost.

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  33. I've been following the comments and wanting to jump in, but I've been waiting 'til I can do so calmly and without seeing red.

    It seems like there are two separate but related issues here: 1) the assumptions being made about what a woman's clothes "say" about her, and 2) whether those assumptions justify people acting a certain way towards her.

    Let's look at the first one first.

    You talk about the clothes a woman wears, and whether they say “hottie on the prowl” or “good girl to take home to mom.” As if the only reason a woman chooses an outfit, the only “message” she’s trying to send, has to do with how she wants men to view her.

    Um. Get over yourselves?

    I hate to burst the bubble of male vanity, but it’s not all about you. It’s not even mostly about you.

    If a woman is going on a romantic date, or celebrating an anniversary, or planning an intimate evening at home with her husband or lover, she might choose her clothes to please the specific man she’s going to be with. The vast majority of other times, whether we’re dressing up for a night out on the town or just grabbing an outfit for the day, we’re not trying to look good for men. We’re dressing for ourselves, and for other women.

    If you don’t understand why women like to dress up for other women, why it’s fun to compare clothes with each other and ooh and ahh over new dresses and new outfits, and why a woman’s opinion of your clothes/shoes/hairstyle/makeup might matter more than a man’s opinion… you know what, that’s ok. You don’t have to understand it. Me, I don’t understand why my roommate watches pro wrestling. People do different things for fun, and that’s ok.

    If you don’t understand why a woman dresses for herself – why she chooses clothes that make her look good *to her own eyes* and that she’s physically and emotionally comfortable wearing – then I’m not sure I can help you. I like to wear clothes that I like – not sure I can simplify it any further.

    You say a woman’s clothing “sends a message,” and women are getting unfairly upset when men respond to that message. I say the opposite. No woman I know chooses her outfit to send a message. Instead, it’s men making assumptions (based on clothing, of all silly things to base an assumption on!) then getting upset when women persist in being individuals and not conforming to their assumptions. A woman insists she’s not a slut just because she’s wearing a short skirt? Instead of asserting that you know more about her and her motivations than she does, maybe you should just change your preconceived notions about what a short skirt means. Since, demonstrably, they are wrong.

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  34. As for the second issue…

    “Many women believe they are ‘entitled’ to dress however they please and don't think there should be any consequences attached.”

    Ummm… yeah, pretty much. I more or less think that the clothes *I* choose to put on *my* body are *my* business, nobody else’s. Crazy, right? This whole idea that women should have autonomy over their own bodies?

    You’re right, there is an issue of entitlement here, but it’s not the one you’re thinking of.

    Let’s go back to the earlier point of “it’s not all about you.” My body is not here for men. It belongs to me, and only me. I may choose to share it with individual people, but that is my choice. It is not here to arouse you. It is not here to entice you. It is not here to “taunt” you with something you want but can’t have. It is not here to entertain you or make your world more decorative.

    So yes. I do feel entitled to walk down the street without getting harassed, stared at, catcalled, insulted, groped, threatened, or raped. I have that right. I have that right whether I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt, an ankle-length dress, or cut-off shorts and a bikini top. No assumption you make about me, no reaction you have – good or bad – to my appearance, changes that right in any way. To think that it does – to think that being “aroused” or “taunted” or even “disgusted” somehow gives you the right to treat me badly – is arrogant, immoral, and just plain wrong.

    Are there people who are going to judge me based on my clothes? Sure. There are also people who will make snap judgments about me based on my gender, my race, my religion, my accent, how loud I laugh, what car I drive, what part of town I live in, what job I have, the music I listen to, the sports teams I cheer for, and what book I have in my hands when they meet me. People make assumptions based on all kinds of silly things. It doesn’t make them right. It doesn’t mitigate any crimes they may commit based on those false assumptions. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I should change myself, my style and the way I choose to dress, to cater to the prejudices of ignorant people.

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  35. Hey Mary, I think that your comment is quite ideological and it ignores many points that have been made.

    The way I see the whole debate is analogous to theft. If you leave your wallet out in public view it is more likely to be stolen than if in your pocket. That is not the same as blaming the victim for the theft.

    It is socially acceptable to suggest that people not leave their wallets out in view, that they use locks on the doors of their home. Why is it so awful to recommend precautions against rape?

    When the Canadian policeman made his rather blunt suggestion, I doubt he was blaming the victims of rape for the crime. He was trying to suggest precautions to prevent rape in the future.

    Clothing is not a silly thing to base an assumption on. Why do you think that men all wear suits to weddings? Clothing is commonly seen as a way we communicate, so cut the rationalist nonsense.

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  36. (“Rationalist nonsense”?? What oxymoronic tomfoolery is this?)

    Hey, thanks for an example so I can show where you’re wrong.

    “Why do you think that men all wear suits to weddings?” Um… they don’t. I’ve seen plenty of men wear things other than suits to weddings. At my wedding, my own father walked me down the aisle wearing blue jeans and a Tasmanian devil tie. I’ve seen men get married wearing Renaissance garb and Starfleet uniforms. I’ve seen weddings where everyone including the bride was in jeans. See, what you’re doing here is taking a custom that is standard in your life, amongst the people you know, and trying to make it into some sort of universal norm.

    And this is what gets me when I hear people say things like “she was dressed like a slut.” I have to wonder what they mean. Because, see, I know girls who are promiscuous. Small-minded nasty people who like to use the word “slut” would probably call them sluts. And… they dress just like everyone else. Jeans, t-shirts, fuzzy sweaters, long skirts, layered clothes, sandals or sneakers, moderate-if-any makeup. I also know girls who wear short, tight skirts or shorts, low-cut tops, and lots of makeup, but are either chaste or monogamous. So… the idea that “sluts dress in a certain way” is categorically, demonstrably false. Yet people keep saying “dressed like a slut” as if it meant anything. (I mean, anything more than “dressed in a way that I, personally, dislike.”) They’re making assumptions about other people based on spurious standards.

    But ok. You know what? I’m willing to concede that yes, people do communicate certain concepts based on the clothes they choose. Sometimes. (Sometimes the “message” is simply “it’s laundry day.”) But it’s a highly unreliable method of communication. Different people, different age groups, different subcultures – heck, different areas of the same city – are going to use different methods to communicate those concepts. So unless you actually know a person, you should probably refrain from judging them based on their clothes, because whatever “message” they’re sending, it’s probably not for you. (In fact, let me expand on this. Unless you actually know someone, you should refrain from judging them, full stop.)

    And I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the one message that is never being sent is “Hey, it’s ok to rape me!”

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  37. part 2...

    As for why it’s “awful to recommend precautions against rape”: first of all, because they don’t work. Rape is a crime of power. Girls in short skirts get raped; girls in long skirts get raped; girls in pants get raped; girls in burkas get raped. “Good girls” get raped and so do “bad girls.” Octogenarian women in tatty bathrobes get raped. Dressing “modestly” isn’t a guarantee of safety. There is no guarantee of safety, except to continue to obliterate the mindset of the rape culture.

    And the core of that culture, the core of that mindset, is this: treating women like objects instead of people.

    And yes, the idea that women should dress in certain ways to prevent rape is a part of that. Now, I don’t know the policeman in question. Maybe his statement was just the innocent suggestion you want to paint it as, I don’t know. But if you’re claiming that victim-blaming doesn’t happen, has never happened, that people haven’t tried to tell rape victims that they are to blame for what happened to them, that no one has ever said “She was asking for it! Look what she was wearing!”… then you’re either a liar or terribly, terribly ignorant. It’s happened. It still happens.

    It does terrible things to the psyche of women who are subjected to it. But what it also does is send the message to rapists and potential rapists that rape isn’t that bad. It normalizes it. It says “yeah, y’know, maybe you probably shouldn’t have. But what was she expecting!? Really, no one can blame you.” It gives them excuses. It whispers that really, there are things women can do – wearing certain clothes, acting certain ways, being alone with a guy – that forfeit her right to her own body, her right to say no. It says that women aren’t really people, not the same way men are. And it implies that everyone knows it. That thinking that way is ok.

    And that leads to rape.

    And no, it’s not the same as theft. People know theft is wrong. When someone came into our backyard and stole my husband’s bike, everyone who heard the story was unanimously against the thief. My husband’s anger was considered real and valid. While it’s true that the bike wasn’t locked up, the general reaction to hearing this was “that’s really terrible, that you can’t leave your bike unlocked in your own backyard!” No one tried to tell my husband that it was his fault. No one asked him if he was “really” the victim of theft (since, after all, leaving your bike unlocked is “asking for it.”) No one tried to mock him or suggest that maybe he’d given the bike away and then changed his mind. No, all of the blame was put where it belonged: squarely on the back of the thief.

    If society treated rape the same way, if we never made excuses for rapists or tried to make rape seem “normal,” if we never blamed the victim, then maybe, yeah. Giving advice to protect yourself (even if that advice is not always going to work) would not be so emotionally charged. (Or maybe not. There’s some other factors at work too, but since I don’t want to write a book, I’m not going to get into them right now.) But we don’t treat rape like other crimes. And so yes, when we see or hear people giving the advice that that policeman gave, it’s infuriating. Because instead of addressing the actual cause of the problem – i.e., rapists – he’s doing the same old tired thing that men have been doing for centuries: making women responsible for men’s actions.

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  38. (As for my response being "ideological" - if by ideology, you mean "human beings should be treated with basic respect and as individuals," sure, it's ideological. Not sure that's a bad thing though.)

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  39. Hi Mary,

    Thank you so much for your posts that stand up to the busybodies here.

    Grerp, Anne, Superenigma: you have no idea what fire you're playing with when you promote the idea of allowing 'others' to dictate what a woman (or a man, for that matter) can wear.

    Remember that the word 'slut' is completely relative. And if you allow the busybodies to tell you what to do, or even worse, become one of these harpies yourself, you can find yourself caught in a vortex that might just end up sucking you in just like your original victims.

    Examples:

    In the USA, some people call women who wear hotpants slutty.

    In Saudi Arabia, people call a woman who lets some of her hair be visible in public a slut. And in Saudi Arabia the religious police can haul you into jail, let the guards beat you for a few hours, then release you to your families. Where does it end?

    In parts of Afghanistan women who go out without wearing a buurka have been called sluts, and some have paid with their lives for doing so.

    So why should an American get to call a Frenchwoman a slut when she doesn't wear a top on the beach, but then reject the word when an Iranian calls her a slut for not wearing a chador to the beach.

    You see the word slut is a word of shaming, and social control. In the USA, where many people hold the social attitude is that a woman's sexual favors have value, social and monetary, and should only be traded for value in return from males. A woman who 'gives it up too easily' is a slut, because she didn't 'value herself.'

    Then there are the various religious fundamentalists who have the 'sex is evil/dirty/corrupting' worldview. They love to impose their conformity on women. And, yes, refer to them as 'sluts' when they have sex, or even date men outside the confines of their particular set of strictures.

    But wait, don't religious fundamentalists despise prostitutes because they treat sex as a commodity to be traded for cash? The prostitutes sure don't 'give it up for too little," do they? Where does it all end.

    I was left gasping by reading an account of a horrific 'honor killing' perpetrated in Germany by a woman's father and brother. The brother spoke English, and when he was interviewed he refered to her as a slut. What was her 'slutty' behavior that supposedly dishonored her family and required her killing? She had been clandestinely dating a German (non-Turkish-origin) man, who had not been approved by her father.

    Women, don't allow anyone to use this word against you, and in your mind don't ever allow them to use it pressure you into following their particular behavioral prejudices. It's a slippery slope, and you'll never be able to satisfy the most rabid social controllers anyway.

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  40. Yeah, hi Don. Anne here.
    I don't know why you're lumping me in with the "busybodies". I agree with you as I've been trying to explain to everyone here.

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  41. There's a campaign in Scotland at the moment on this very subject. Just thought I'd link to it (if Grerp'll let me) because it's awesome.

    http://www.thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk/home/

    - Anne

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  42. Hi Anne,

    Ooops . . . My Bad. You're right, I had your posts misplaced. Thanks for the correction!

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  43. Thanks, Don.
    - Anne

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  44. Don - thanks for the kind words and support!

    Anne - oh, what a lovely link! Thanks for sharing it!

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  45. Also, I found this take on the "leaving your wallet out" comparison. I rather liked it. http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2007/01/take-my-cunt-please.html

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  46. I think you're wrong, Mary. How helpful advice can become victim blaming is beyond me, but it is what it is. The majority if rape victims are between the ages of 17 and 25 - women at their peak fertility. Coincidence? Rape is about sex, full stop. An erection is required. Anyone who posits that rape is about power, control and patriarchy is a nut. Do you really think the typical rapist's primary motive is patriarchy preservation? It is to laugh.

    If you don't want to get raped, don't put yourself in a situation where you can get raped. If you are drunk, wearing stiletto heels and a tube top with no underwear, well, you are an idiot. Just like I would be an idiot if I walked through Harlem shouting, "Nigger".

    Deal.

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  47. 1) If you honestly think rape is about sex, I'm concerned for the quality of your sex life. Sex is something that two people do together - sometimes for love, sometimes just for the joy of sharing their bodies, of giving and receiving pleasure. That's not what a rapist is after. He isn't interested in sharing anything with his victim. He doesn't want a partner or a willing participant (and if he does, then he's going about it in entirely the wrong way, 'cuz you can't get that with rape.) Rape isn't even mating, the way animals do - the rapist isn't trying to procreate. Rape is about violence, and the exercise of power.

    You said, If you are drunk, wearing stiletto heels and a tube top with no underwear, well, you are an idiot. Just like I would be an idiot if I walked through Harlem shouting, "Nigger". It's an interesting analogy. "Nigger" is an insult. It's meant to belittle, to paint someone (or a whole group of someones) as less than human, something to be looked down on. Black people tend to become angry when that word is used against them, because they recognize it as a word intended to take away their power, their basic humanity, to "put them in their place." And in your analogy, intentionally or not, you compare that to a woman being intoxicated while wearing clothes you don't approve of. I think it's telling.

    I do think a lot of men feel threatened when women act in ways that don't display fear and submissiveness. Not all men, thank goodness; not even most men. But some. Enough. The reason why is pretty simple: we do live in a patriarchy. Both men and women have been bombarded since birth with messages both subconscious and blatant, telling us that men are the powerful ones, men are the heads of the household and the CEO's and the protagonists and the masters of their craft, while women are the supporting cast: the wife, the secretary, the assistant, the sidekick, the eternal student. The message is also pretty loud and clear that women are "supposed" to provide sexual gratification to men. (I hope I don't need to explain the concept of the Male Gaze and Women as Sex Objects to you, because if so we may be here a while.)

    Now, happily, society is changing. We're still getting a lot of those same messages, but there are a lot of new messages being put out there to counter them. Women don't feel the need to act submissive to men anymore. We have lives and goals and thoughts of our own, completely unrelated to whether men find us sexy.

    And what happens? Well, a lot of times, a loss of special privilege can feel like unfair oppression. Men are confronted with women who talk back to them, who don't hide their bodies or reserve their sexuality for just one man, who do things and make decisions without even considering what men might think of it, who flirt or make out or even get hot and heavy, but then refuse to follow through with sex "like a good woman should." Women, in other words, who don't treat men and men's desires as the center of their universe. And to a man accustomed to privilege, it can feel like disrespect. She's "acting like she's better than you." It can lead to anger, and a desire for violence. The would-be rapist wants to take back the power he feels like he's lost. He wants to hurt the woman who "disrespected" him, to put her in her place, to remind her that he's a man and she's "just" a woman. Just a weak, powerless woman, a wet place to stick his cock into, something to be used and tossed aside. And she better remember that, the next time she wants to make a man feel small.

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  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  49. 2) Does that sound like it's "about sex" to you? Not to me either. And no, these men did not wake up one morning and go "I think I'll help preserve the patriarchy today!" Would that it were that simple. However, just because there is no conscious, specific intent to do so doesn't mean that the desires and motives behind rape aren't firmly rooted in the patriarchy.

    As for how "helpful advice" can become "victim blaming": well, it's threefold. First is the psychological impact. The victim-blaming culture does exist. Rapists have been acquitted at trials because of how the woman is dressed, sending the signal that it's not "really" rape if your skirt is too short. Women have been made to feel guilty, as if they were to blame for being raped because they were drunk, or alone, or in revealing clothes. Men have been told that "boys will be boys," and that if a woman looks like that, man, no one can really blame you. The phrase "she was asking for it" exists!!! And like it or not, conversations about rape carry that baggage. So while the advice to dress a certain way in order to prevent rape may be, itself, innocent, the subtext it carries is not. That subtext, intentional or unintentional, is: "and if you don't, if you dress like a 'slut,' then whatever happens to you is your own fault." Women internalize that message, and believe me, so do men. It just becomes one more justification for rape.

    The second is that the "helpful advice" can become infuriating when it doesn't work. Most women aren't raped while walking down a dark alley in stilettos. (Totally off-topic, if I were being threatened in a dark alley, I would totally want stilettos. Have you considered the sheer stabbing power of one of those? Anyway.) They're raped by men they know, men they trusted, usually in their home or the man's home or another "safe" place. Holly of the Pervocracy reports that, while working in an ER, most rape victims she saw coming in were dressed in jeans or similarly modest clothing when they were raped. Their modest, non-revealing clothes didn't protect them, nor did staying out of dangerous areas. So when a woman who is raped while wearing revealing clothing is asked "well, why were you dressed like that? What did you expect?", it's a slap in the face, and a sad dismissal of facts. They're using her clothes to blame her for her rape, but in truth there is no way of dressing that will prevent rape so long as the myth persists that rape is ever, under any circumstances, permissible.

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  50. 3) The third is that quite frankly, to borrow a phrase, it is letting the rapists win. A man who rapes wants women to be nothing more than submissive toys and adornments. Not people. And the more we women change and limit our lives to try to accomodate those who want to hurt us, the more we give them power.

    And where does it end? If (to paraphrase Holly again) we all agree that miniskirts are too revealing and stop wearing them, will skirts that end at the knee become the new "immodest" things to wear? If we all decide only full-length skirts are appropriately modest, will a woman flashing her ankles be asking for it? How much will we have to change, how much will we have to subsume our own will and personality and freedom, before the rapists decide we're appropriately meek and submissive that they no longer feel threatened by us?

    "Helpful advice" doesn't end at clothing. "Rape prevention" advice, if you read enough of it (and if you're a woman, you have - it's been forwarded to your email by dozens of "helpful" friends) boils down in the end to "don't do anything, ever. Stay in your home, and be scared." Or, to quote Shakesville,

    Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.

    (Actually, that website, Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog, is a great resource for finding more information about all these issues, and I would heartily recommend anyone participating in this discussion to take a look at it. Especially check the areas on rape culture and slut-shaming.)

    After a while, it gets to be too much. It shouldn't be our job. We shouldn't have to live in fear of rape. We shouldn't have to scrutinize our every move, wondering if it's "acceptable" to the sort of mind that will rape us if it's not.


    Here's the thing: I understand that the cop who gave this advice was probably legitimately trying to help. I don't want to demonize him, but I do want people to understand that that sort of help... isn't helpful. If you honestly care about the issue of rape and rape prevention, I encourage you to follow the links that I and others have provided, and learn more about rape culture and how to decrease its influence. We'd love to have your help. At the very least, though, please stop spreading misinformation (even well-meant misinformation) that disempowers women and empowers rapists. Thanks.

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  51. (Note the first: I recognize that some of this may sound man-hating. I actually like men a lot; on average, I get along with them better than I do with women. I understand that most males are functional, well-adjusted adults who do not have the reactions I describe and do not feel a desire to rape, and I'm not trying to suggest otherwise. However, a lot of the power plays that lead to rape stem from the idea of male privilege, so it has to be discussed. If you are reading this and you are a happy, healthy, non-rapey man, please understand I am not talking about you. I am talking about rapists.)

    (Note the second: I also recognize that while male-on-female rape is the most prevalent [feel free to fact-check me on this, because I can't find the numbers to back me up anymore and therefore I may be wrong], other types do occur. The comment that sparked this whole discussion seemed to be focused on male-on-female rape, and so that's how I'm directing my responses, but I am more than aware that men also rape men, that women rape men, that women rape women, and that both men and women rape children. If I don't seem aware of that fact, I apologize.)

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  52. "So while the advice to dress a certain way in order to prevent rape may be, itself, innocent, the subtext it carries is not. That subtext, intentional or unintentional, is: "and if you don't, if you dress like a 'slut,' then whatever happens to you is your own fault.""

    This.

    Thank you for saying this better than I ever could. The problem with all the "Well, what was she wearing?" nonsense is that it makes rapists think they have an excuse. They don't. And, as a society, we need to stop perpetuating that kind of thinking.

    - Anne.

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  53. @Don, well said. I agree with you. Except your implicit accusation that I'm calling people sluts or engaging in slut-shaming.

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  54. "So unless you actually know a person, you should probably refrain from judging them based on their clothes"

    When did I judge anyone. You seem to be reading into my post some sort of judgement against promiscuous women that I have never made. I don't have a problem with promiscuity.

    "And I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the one message that is never being sent is “Hey, it’s ok to rape me!”"

    But some people (who I condemn wholesale) seem to interpret it this way. This is a fact of life. How can you say that clothes are an 'unreliable method of communication' (true) and yet deny the possibility that anyone could see revealing clothes as an invitation to rape.

    "As for why it’s “awful to recommend precautions against rape”: first of all, because they don’t work. Rape is a crime of power. Girls in short skirts get raped; girls in long skirts get raped"

    I am aware that rape is a crime of power and that it goes far beyond those wearing revealing clothes. However, I don't know that it happens to the types victims you listed in equal proportions. I doubt you know it either, unless you have stats. Perhaps this police officer, who probably has seen more rape victims than either of us, has more of idea. Mind you, I think that he really should not have used the word "sluts" - he should have used more formal and less emotionally charged language.

    "the core of that culture, the core of that mindset, is this: treating women like objects instead of people.
    And yes, the idea that women should dress in certain ways to prevent rape is a part of that."
    I don't see how one sentence follows logically from the other.

    "But if you’re claiming that victim-blaming doesn’t happen, has never happened…"

    I don't claim that. Why do you think I would claim it. Believe me, I share your revulsion at the idea that anyone would go easier on a rapist because his victim wore revealing clothes. It is troubling to think of how recently the fact that a woman might have had a promiscuous past influenced the way the judicial system treated rape cases.

    Against your own advice, you seem to be making a lot of judgements about me.

    "It whispers that really, there are things women can do – wearing certain clothes, acting certain ways, being alone with a guy – that forfeit her right to her own body, her right to say no."
    My opinion really does not imply that. I'm just trying to suggest advice for the real world in which rapists do exist and always have done. Your position seems to ignore that fact entirely.

    "People know theft is wrong. When someone came into our backyard and stole my husband’s bike, everyone who heard the story was unanimously against the thief. My husband’s anger was considered real and valid. While it’s true that the bike wasn’t locked up, the general reaction to hearing this was “that’s really terrible, that you can’t leave your bike unlocked in your own backyard!"

    I've never met anyone who thinks that rape is not wrong. Have you? The crime of the above bike theft is analogous to rape (except in its severity of course), probably even more so than the wallet left out in public. Your husband's bike was left in a place that was supposed to be sacrosanct from outside incursion. A woman's body should be a sanctuary from outside incursion without consent, I'm sure we'll agree.

    I have not used the phrase "asking for it" or anything like it. This is why I deemed your response to be ideological: instead of really considering the arguments, you just reverted to an argument you have previously made against people who do use such phrases regarding rape cases.

    My bike has also been stolen from my own back yard. After I got a new bike I always kept it locked. Does this mean I surrendered to a culture of bike theft victim blaming, or does it indicate that I took a precaution that in a just world I should not have to take, but in the real world, I do?

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  55. @ Mary and Don

    I've been thinking about this issue a lot and researching it- looking into different rape statistics- and I'd like to take back something that I said before. I no longer think it probable that a woman's mode of dress has anything to do with the probability of her getting raped. I'd like to apologise for having implied it.


    @Grerp, superenigma et al

    If any person is wandering about alone at night in a bad area, we might reasonably expect them to be at greater risk of becoming the victim of crime, right? Any crime.

    But let's say it's a woman and that she is raped; why are her clothes relevant? Are you saying that, if she'd been alone at night in that bad area (and in the presence of a rapist) but wearing jogging bottoms and a hooded sweater that she wouldn't have been raped? Because this doesn't seem logical to me.

    - Anne

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  56. It's hard to know Anne, as I am not an expert in this area by and means. Maybe you are. For whatever reason, the police officer at the centre of this controversy felt it was a factor.

    The "slutwalkers" seem hell bent on ascribing the worst possible motives for his advice rather than showing anyone how the advice cannot work.

    If the officer had suggested that women not walk around in bad areas at night (and I suspect that he probably did), why would this not result in large crowds attending "Nightwalk" protests? Think about that.

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  57. @superenigma

    Because if a policeman says it then it must be true?

    Here is some of the information I found:

    http://www.cer.truthaboutrape.co.uk/3.html
    UK statistics but still relevant.

    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/776945.html
    A page including multiple links from a variety of sources of varying repute.

    - Anne

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  58. Anne, you might be surprised that I'm not hell bent on drawing a link between revealing dress and rape. You and Mary seem to be hell bent on disproving that link so I'm glad that some evidence has been presented.

    But Mr Policeman probably said it for a reason and I do not agree with the effort to ascribe the worst possible motives for his advice.

    Either the advice is potentially effective or it's not. Why must the argument go beyond that?

    You seem to really want the advice to be ineffective because it offends you in some ideological sense. Is your ideological conviction worth the cost of even one preventable rape?

    Again, If the officer had suggested that women not walk around in bad areas at night (and I suspect that he probably did), why would this not result in large crowds attending "Nightwalk" protests? Think about that.

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  59. @superenigma

    "You and Mary seem to be hell bent on disproving that link"

    Um, yes, because this post is entitled 'Put your clothes back on'.

    "But Mr Policeman probably said it for a reason and I do not agree with the effort to ascribe the worst possible motives for his advice."

    Actually, I assume he said it from the best possible motive; trying to help. However, it's really not that helpful if there is no link between clothing and rape. Why did he think it was helpful advice? In my opinion, because he grew up in a blame culture in which both men and women assume unthinkingly that the length of a woman's skirt makes her a target. (See the links I posted above which give the percentage of people that believe this versus actual rape statistics). It is this culture that the slut walkers are protesting.

    By the way, in the UK, statistically a woman is more likely to become the target of a rapist if she has a pony tail as opposed to short hair. Should I go and get my hair cut? After all, if I know this statistic and still go out with my hair long, I must be asking for it.

    "Either the advice is potentially effective or it's not. Why must the argument go beyond that?"

    Well, exactly. My whole argument- and, more importantly, the argument of the protesters- is predicated on the fact that it isn't effective advice.

    "Is your ideological conviction worth the cost of even one preventable rape?"

    Firstly, I would argue that my conviction isn't going to enable any rapes. On the contrary, I would argue that it is the 'Put Your Clothes Back On' brigade who enable rapists by making them think they have an excuse. A quick glance at some of the comments sections (and even some of the posts) on some of the MRM sites in Grerp's sidebar will provide you with lots of evidence of people (of both genders) saying that 'sluts' deserve what they get or even that the verbal abuse of these women is some sort of service to society).

    "Again, If the officer had suggested that women not walk around in bad areas at night (and I suspect that he probably did), why would this not result in large crowds attending "Nightwalk" protests? Think about that."

    Again, it is advisable for people of both genders to take certain precautions. Wandering around in a bad area at night leaves us all vulnerable to various crimes. Perhaps the policeman said this. We don't know. But that isn't offensive because it is advice not aimed *only* at women and it makes no moral assumptions about them based upon their clothing. I believe he used the phrase "dressed like sluts" - an astoundingly stupid thing to say on many levels. If 'slut' means 'promiscuous woman', then I've known many sluts who wouldn't be caught dead in a mini-skirt and halter-neck combo. I've also witnessed many a good Christian girl being told she ought to show less cleavage. Think about that.

    - Anne

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  60. Superenigma, I am very happy to hear that you don't judge people based on their clothing, that you don't blame women for being raped, and that you think it is wrong to do so. Also that you recognize that rape is a crime of power and violence. However, such enlightened attitudes are far from common. Just to pull a few quotes from the comments on this very post:

    Every adult knows this. If you want to respected, dress that way. This is a demonstration of the profound foolishness of the modern priestesses of feminism.

    Sluts are forgettable, nothing worth remembering about a woman willing to give herself up for free. A woman who values herself will not act or dress in such a fashion.

    you dress "sexy" so people will think about sex when they look at you. you don't dress "sexy" to make people think about your intellectual capacity, your personality or character. so if you go to a place full of guys dressed "sexy" you WANT everyone of those guys to think about sex when they look at you, preferably sex with you.

    The problem is the issue of ENTITLEMENT. Many women believe they are "entitled" to dress however they please and don't think there should be any consequences attached… What is there to "celebrate" if we are dressing in ways to bring excessive sexual attention to one's self, and as a result some guy treats you like an easy woman because you are dressed like an easy woman?

    These Slutwalks are basically adolescent style tantrums: "You can't tell me what to wear!" No, we can't any more. I guess. But what you wear sends a message, as Dalrock amusingly pointed out above.

    But actual rapists aren't the target audience of this protest. The question of rape is just a canard, an excuse to parade around as sluts and demand that ordinary people not think any differently of them.

    Ah your response sounds like typical liberal feminist who doesn't believe in personal responsibility. I am not surprised. Life comes with consequences, and that includes how we dress. Fashion choices have always been a part of self-expression, and we willingly choose to express a certain aspect of ourselves. Whether we want to scream "hottie on the prowl," or subtly say "good girl to take to mom," we are expressing ourselves in a basic manner… Why does it have to always go back to a "man's responsibility," when it was the WOMAN who chose to dress that way in the first place? You continue to ignore the visual nature of men and expect them to act like women… A man who notices a scantily clad woman late at night in a bar or a club cannot be faulted for getting aroused and wanting to do something further with the woman, especially if she is openly flirting and giving him signals. He didn't make her dress that way, he didn't make her go to the bar or club, and he's not making her thrust her hips forward (btw, that's a primal signal that screams "MATE ME!"), nor show her cleavage.

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  61. Rape is about sex, full stop. An erection is required. Anyone who posits that rape is about power, control and patriarchy is a nut. Do you really think the typical rapist's primary motive is patriarchy preservation? It is to laugh. If you don't want to get raped, don't put yourself in a situation where you can get raped. If you are drunk, wearing stiletto heels and a tube top with no underwear, well, you are an idiot. Just like I would be an idiot if I walked through Harlem shouting, "Nigger".

    And then, from the original post:

    Look, let's be honest with ourselves as women. Can we all agree that we don't go out in a pink halter tops and satin hot pants because of the comfort factor? We don't dress that way to impress our girlfriends with our sense of style either. Women dress in miniscule, tight, sexy clothing to get the attention of men. And it is effective. Unfortunately, women can't always control how that attention channels itself. And instead of acknowledging that limitation - that this is a built-in trade-off for guaranteed male attention - they throw a group tantrum, wag a bunch of fingers, and attempt to control the reaction they provoke through chanting, and shaming, and what have you.

    That's a breathtaking amount of slut-shaming, victim-blaming, rape apology, and judging-based-on-clothes going on, and that's just coming from one itty-bitty post and its comments.

    So, superenigma, I'm sorry if I conflated you with the people who were posting around you. For the most part, I really wasn't directing my comments to an individual, but to the thread as a whole. However, it sort of illustrates my point: you, and the policeman, may be perfectly nice, well-meaning people. But the vast majority of people who take the "to prevent rape, dress modestly" tack are - to judge by these comments - not. I do think there is a connection. Intentional or not, when you tell women how they should dress and not dress to be safe, it empowers and emboldens those who say "if you're dressed as a slut, you shouldn't act surprised when you 'receive more sexual attention than you wanted'" (read: are sexually assaulted.) And that, in turn, makes excuses for rape.

    And no, my "ideology" isn't worth letting people get raped. However, I think you're setting up a false choice. I really do think that the above mindset leads to more rape, not less. I think it's important that everyone - men, women, potential rapists, police officers, judges, juries - agree that rape is rape is rape, and stop letting rapists off the hook because the victim was "dressed like a slut." And for that to happen, we have to stop giving power to that mindset.

    So, ok, to sum up: telling girls to dress modestly to avoid rape a) has, at best, a marginal effect at preventing rape, and b) helps perpetuate the "victim-blaming" culture that leads to more rapes.

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  62. As for some of the specific objections you raised:

    How can you say that clothes are an 'unreliable method of communication' (true) and yet deny the possibility that anyone could see revealing clothes as an invitation to rape.

    I don't deny the possibility. I also don't think I can control whatever reactions other people have to me no matter what I wear. I also think that if someone has the mindset that rape is acceptable, they're going to see just about anything as an invitation to rape.

    I've never met anyone who thinks that rape is not wrong. Have you?

    Well, yeah. Or rather, that rape is ok, or not really rape, or "not that bad," under certain circumstances. There are people who really and truly think that if a girl is dressed revealingly, or is promiscuous, that whatever happens to her can't really be rape. There are people who really and truly think that if a girl is drunk and alone with a guy, he shouldn't be punished for raping her, because it's her fault for being in that position. So... yeah.

    Are there things women can do to prevent rape? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, not really. The thing is, though, I don't know of any woman who hasn't heard the advice before. It's not like "don't wear revealing clothes, don't walk home alone at night, don't be drunk and alone with a guy" is the revealed wisdom of the ages, here. Sometimes women follow that advice, sometimes they don't. Sometimes it helps, sometimes (more often) it doesn't. Constantly repeating the advice isn't helping anyone, though, because it's not like they haven't heard it before. Maybe it's time to look at new tactics for rape prevention, since these existing ones ain't really working.

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  63. (Links, cuz other people can say it better:)

    How advice for women can play into victim-blaming and women feeling like they don't have a right to complain (also talks about the Slutwalk): http://becomingsupermommy.blogspot.com/2011/06/it-wasnt-my-fault.html

    One example of rape-prevention advice that doesn't make it the woman's responsibility: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/boyfriend/how_you_guys_thats_right_you_guys_can_prevent_rape

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  64. I'm just going to say again what I said over at Dalrock's:

    "The economy is terrible, there is hardly any well paid employment to be had, benefits have been and continue to be slashed, millions have lost their homes, Wall Street tanked everything with their unbelievable greed and stupidity, then walked away with huge bonuses thanks to our unbelievably corrupt and stupid government and NO ONE has been prosecuted for this Heist of the Century, the general populace is on the precipice of serious hardship and austerity and already in debt to their eyeballs, our food system is poisonous and disturbingly unethical, we are still involved in 3 useless but catastrophically expensive military actions, marriage is tanking, illegitimacy is exploding, obesity is destroying our health, and the weather seems to be becoming more and more apocalyptic.

    And women have taken to the streets for the right to dress like whores without censure."

    I'm fine with telling women to dress more modestly just because I prefer them to be more modest. I don't have to have additional reasons related to rape or not.

    Actually, all the talk on feminists' sites and their refusal to take any responsibility for any of their actions rape related or not has made me, over time, completely indifferent to rape. Rape happens. Other bad things happen. They will continue to happen. All we can do is to live our lives with as little exposure to risk as we can manage, hope for the best, and trust the justice system works when crime occurs.

    I am now locking this thread because the last thing I want is to for people to be persuaded by the womyn over at Shakesville and Scarleteen whose entire worldview and "morality" I find utterly repugnant.

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