Friday, May 6, 2011


Tomorrow, at noon, a group of protestors will be walking around Boston Commons (starting from the bandstand near Emerson) to protest rape, rape culture, and slut-shaming. I'll be with them.

The event is called the Boston Slutwalk and it was inspired by a similar event in Toronto, which was in turn inspired by a police officer declaring that women could avoid rape by avoiding dressing like "sluts."

Of course, it's not about that officer, who's long since apologized and all that. It's about all the people who agree with him. All the people who think that rape is terrible and no one deserves it, but wearing that on the street at night is kinda risky, doncha think? And all the people who make those people even a little bit right.

It's about the hideous conflation, made by the "good guys" and "bad guys" alike, of people who like sex with people who invite rape. (Hint: the first group is most of the world and the second group is fuckin' nobody.)

Come dressed as a slut: which is to say, in a short skirt and tank top, or in jeans and a t-shirt, or in business casual, or in short-shorts and a muscle tee, or in a big comfy jacket and sweatpants...

I'll be there with a sign saying "I'm a slut: I love CONSENSUAL sex!" Come join me if you're in Boston and free tomorrow, it'll be fun, meaningful, and prove a really important goddamn point--there's nothing wrong with being a slut, and there shouldn't be anything dangerous about it either.


  1. Damn you city folk. Why must you get all the fun?
    What I wouldn't give to participate. ><

  2. Ok, is there any time that you should be aware that what you are wearing might potentially cause you physical harm?

  3. Yes. When you are wearing a live porcupine.

  4. Tit for Tat - Sure - if I have an open safety pin, or a knife or some other sharp thing in my clothing that might cause me physical harm, then I should be aware of it. Otherwise, no.

    A Giants fan was brutally beaten by Dodgers fans after the Dodgers/Giants home opener at the beginning of April. No one is suggesting he shouldn't have worn the opposing teams colors to the game. This is no different.

  5. Holly

    Ok, so what if you are a crip in a blood's community?

  6. Well, if men are a violent and territorial gang and the entire outside world is their turf, gee whillikers, you have a point.

    ...No. Even then, you don't. Because if I'm wearing Crip colors on Blood turf, I will be harmed by gang violence. Not by my clothing.

  7. Holly

    Not true, certain clothing brings more attention to you and though it is downright terrible that someone would target someone because of that does not eliminate that fact. So, it takes me back to my original question, should we not be aware that what we are wearing may potentially put us in harms way? As a father of a daughter I do teach her to be aware of the predators in our society and the potential triggers that might cause them to hunt.

  8. Tit for Tat - That's just silly. How can the clothing do such a thing? It's made of cloth.

    I'm not just playing dumb here. What you're talking about are the actions that people make the decision to take. While cautioning your daughter on "appropriate dress" may protect her somewhat from slut-shaming and very slightly from rape (seriously, I've cared for a lot of rape victims and they were all in jeans and stuff, mostly whatever they were wearing at home when their friend or partner raped them), it's not a real solution.

    The real solution is to work on the problems of violence and misogyny that allow people to commit violence against women because of the way those people judge the women's clothes.

  9. Holly

    Im not saying it is the solution, I am saying it is an aspect that we should be aware of. I know you are not dumb, the fact is you are actually incredibly bright. Does my suggestion not have some merit to it?

  10. Um, what is your suggestion?

    The other problem with "women should dress modestly" is that the standard of "modest" is subjective and changeable. Right now, miniskirts (say) are "dangerous," but if everyone stopped wearing miniskirts, do you think sexual violence would stop, or do you think knee skirts would be the new thing to pick on?

  11. The logic that we all must watch what we wear for fear of triggering violence doesn't work for gang violence any more than it does for rape, and has been taken to some ridiculous extremes.

    As a teacher in east side San Jose, I was enforcing a dress code that prohibited students from wearing (among other things) more than 2 items of red or blue simultaneously, including shoe laces

    Its a ridiculous way to address a problem.

  12. Im suggesting awareness. If you decide to dress in a certain way then shouldnt you expect that you may potentially make yourself more vulnerable? Do you not think that if you dress in a certain fashion it will not provoke a certain energy from certain individuals? The danger is that it may pique the interest of the sick fuck who wants to hurt you. Is it not responsible to suggest that we should be aware of that?

  13. I don't make myself more vulnerable. People decide that the way I'm dressed makes me vulnerable.

    My dress does not provoke energy. People decide to be provoked and to develop that energy.

    This shit ain't just semiotics. The point is that the clothing itself does nothing; what matters is how people behave. Someone who isn't a violent misogynist can see a woman walk down the street buck-ass naked and still feel zero impulse to attack her. So the safest thing to do is to reduce and police the violence and the misogyny in our society.

    Otherwise, if you just go after the miniskirts, you're in one of two situations:
    1) Some people keep wearing miniskirts. These people now have an even bigger target on their backs, which they don't deserve.
    2) Everybody stops wearing miniskirts. Violent misogynists, not about to pack up shop and go home, decide that whatever people do wear that's "sluttiest" (say, knee skirts) is the new standard of "slutty," and start attacking women in knee skirts.

    (Irony: As I write this, I'm wearing cargo shorts and a big brown unisex t-shirt.)
    (Double irony: which is still "sluttier" than what most rape victims in the ER are wearing. It's all a moot point considering that the vast majority of rapes are committed by people the victim already knows anyway, and they don't care what she's wearing.)

  14. Of course dress provokes certain energies, thats why we dress in certain ways, to get a response. Maybe not all the time, but certain times. You and I live in different worlds, in my world I know that my actions can potentially cause a reaction and to be aware of that fact is a good thing not a bad thing. I agree with you on all counts in regards to changing the enviroments that cause violence and rape but I think it is foolish to ignore how our actions can potentially make us more vulnerable.

  15. You should be aware that if you *dress* are born a certain way you *may* will be more vulnerable. And that that is because of the sick fucks that blame you for what they do to you. And that you should be active in events like Slutwalk to help change those sick fuck's attitudes.
    Srsly, dude, piss off.

  16. Tit for Tat - I think the difference here is that what I'm trying to say is that clothing doesn't do anything. Viewing clothing, whether it's a miniskirt or a prairie dress or a pink bunny suit, causes neither pleasure nor pain nor itchiness.

    The place where the reaction happens is inside people's heads. It's what they think of the clothing, not the clothing itself, that causes this. A miniskirt doesn't make you horny--your internal, learned definition of a miniskirt as "this is a sexy piece of clothing that means sex" makes you horny.

    (And if being horny makes you violent, man, you got a whole heap of problems that have nothing to do with the shape of a piece of cotton.)

    I actually do agree with you on one point--if you're going out in a hostile place, wearing modest clothing makes a woman less likely to get catcalled or slut-shamed. I'm not sure of the effect on actual violence (remember all those women in jeans in the ER!), but it can make life a little easier. But that's a stopgap, a concession made to try to appease my enemies, not the way I want to live.

  17. Holly

    I agree, its not the clothing its the intent behind it. Certain clothing intends to get a certain energy. I know this because back in the day(long time ago) I worked out and muscle shirts gave the intent I wanted(not so much these days). I may not agree with you on this point but I am with you in regards to stopping the violence. :)

  18. Tit for Tat - It's not the intent a person has putting on the clothing that matters, though. It's the intent of the viewer.

    If I were from Mars and thought a miniskirt meant I was a very quiet and religious person, Earthling (or to be more precise, modern American) viewers would still perceive it the same way.

  19. Or to bring it out of the realm of metaphor:

    I put on a miniskirt with the intention of "this is in fashion," "it's hot out," "my boyfriend will like this," or even "I want to meet a nice boy for respectful consensual sex."

    If someone views it as "I'm dirty and want to be violated," this is not about my intention, is it? It's about their interpretation, which was created not in my head, not in the clothing, but in their head.

  20. It's not the intent a person has putting on the clothing that matters, though. It's the intent of the viewer.(Holly)

    Maybe, but it is smart to realize what might be the intentions of certain viewers based on the clothing you choose. Awareness of certain situations is a good thing.
    I agree to disagree with you.

  21. Dude, "a certain energy"... bummer... the only think I hate more than bad "energies" is bad vibes, & maybe bad trips. You're laying a heavy trip on me, man! In all seriousness, we can agree that clothing can have effects on the people who see it. Those include aesthetic appreciation, a sense of event-appropriateness, and recognition/rapport by people who are in your peer group or dress a similar way. I am very "aware" of those things when I choose my clothes, although such awareness isn't really "your idea," as you claimed above, but part of every normal person's social/consumer behavior. By contrast, I'm not "aware" of my clothing's potential crime-deterrent effects, because it doesn't have any.

    "In my world I know that my actions can potentially cause a reaction and to be aware of that fact is a good thing not a bad thing....I think it is foolish to ignore how our actions can potentially make us more vulnerable." Okay. I'm glad this advice applies to you, too. What articles of clothing are there that are sold in every popular clothing store, heavily marketed to people like you, routinely visible every day in films, tv shows, magazines, and even on real people, but which nonetheless no one should ever wear because they provoke bad energy? The male equivalent, if you will, of miniskirts and heels? Oh, there isn't one? That's what I thought.

  22. Emily

    Does it have to apply to me for it to be valid?

  23. You just said it applied to you! In that line I just quoted... "In my world I know that my actions can potentially cause a reaction and to be aware of that fact is a good thing not a bad thing." Are you now suggesting that's NOT your world?! Anyway, no, your grand universal theories about How The World Works are in fact NOT valid if they only apply to certain genders/races/demographic categories.

  24. Tit for Tat- The last time I checked, at least in this country, the whole reason we have laws is so that, as long as you're not doing anything illegal yourself, you don't have to live in fear.

    What you're basically doing is correlating clothing and a negative consequence in the same way as dousing yourself in gasoline and walking into open flames.

    What you seem to be failing to understand is that people can actually make decisions. To use your example of gang violence, someone is making the conscious decision to shoot you.

    The point isn't that it isn't dangerous to dress a certain way/go certain places/whatever, but that it shouldn't be that way and doesn't have to be.

  25. Zero

    No, my point is that it can be dangerous. I am aware of this anytime I walk in certain areas and trust me, I know violence very well. I am only talking about awareness and am in no way equating blame with being aware.

  26. Why does advice for young women that may help them be less visible targets negate the fact that people shouldn't catcall or assault women in the first place?

    I think we all try to match our dress to other people's expectations sometimes, like wearing more formal or demure clothing if we work in an office or are visiting in-laws or grandparents etc. These choices are based on our expectations of other people's interpretation of our clothing, and because we want to project an image of "professional" or "nice young lady," and we will benefit personally from creating those impressions.

    What this kind of event points out is that there is a HUGE leap between "that young woman sure doesn't look professional or innocent" and "she must want me to violate her body." That assumption that underlies a lot of rape justifications, and this kind of event points out that it is an assumption people make and not something inherent in mini-skirts.

    Of course "professional" looking is also in the eye of the beholder, but I think there's an even bigger leap that it's important to point out that even buying into every stock interpretation of dress, slutty =/= asking for it.

  27. We all agree that clothing matters. Like Emily said,
    "In all seriousness, we can agree that clothing can have effects on the people who see it. Those include aesthetic appreciation, a sense of event-appropriateness, and recognition/rapport by people who are in your peer group or dress a similar way."

    See also: job interviews.

    Violence, on the other hand, is not acceptable, period. What you wear should have no effect on your physical safety.

    These are the black and white areas. The interesting ones are the gray.

    For example, you can't argue that people should be free to think whatever they want about you, and impressions are made based on looks, yet we wish people weren't such judgmental assholes.

    Tit for Tat, I'm not a parent, but I can understand your concern for your daughter's safety. One can value women as people and believe men and women are equal in all meaningful aspects, one can want to obliterate the current rape culture, but you don't want it to be your daughter who... uh... "takes a risk"* and gets hurt.

    But if no one's daughter ever takes a risk, the rape culture will prevail, and women will not be as free to live their lives as men are (no one is completely free in modern society). Just imagine an extreme all-encompassing frat-like environment, or a Handmaid's Tale scenario if the religious right gets its way.

    I think one of the most important things the parents out there can do is bring up their sons to not put up with this culture in male environments, to speak up.

    As for daughters, well, bring them up to be independent... will stop myself from writing an essay here.

    *Takes a risk: I tried very hard to come up with a value-neutral phrase. Really it's doing what she should be free to do, but this is not always the case in the current sad reality.

  28. Tit for Tat- I wasn't accusing you of equivocating or anything like that, and I certainly agree on the point of awareness. I think that's the idea, in fact.

    No one here is denying the negative consequences of [insert "risky" behavior here]. The distinction, though, needs to be made between practical considerations (ie: it isn't safe to go out alone in a miniskirt) and the way things should actually be (ie: you ought to be able to do whatever you want as long as you're within the law).

  29. Tit for tat- you're trolling, but in countries where modesty is rigidly enforced, such as Saudi Arabia a. Rape is higher than it is here and b. Women are subjected ever increasing standards of modesty. Recently a woman from KSA was ordered to close her eyes in public- the only part of her showing- because they were "alluring".

    Clothing does not "put out energy". The viewer applies certain feelings to others' clothing independently.

    Another example: I imagine you would view an exposed belly on me as Teh Hawtness, but the only exposed bellies I see around me are on older Indian women dressed in the traditional garb of india. I bet the energy has changed for you at that point. Because clothes don't have energy.

  30. I tend to think condescension counterproductive when trying to make a constructive or positive point.

    Just throwin' that out there.

  31. The point is 1. the vast majority of sexual assaults happen to women not engaging in any 'risky' (as you put it) behaviors, so policing women (through laws or shaming) to cover up really amounts to little more than fear-mongering: it greatly impacts many women's sense of security and autonomy while having little real effect on reducing violence.
    2. I realize it may carry a risk and whathaveyou, but so does everything in life, but if I want to go outside in heels, a short dress, and a low-cut top, then it's my fucking right - and I should be able to do so without the threat of violence against me - and so should women.

    It may not be how things are, but it's how they ought to be, and it's worth sticking my neck out and taking a risk to make change happen.

  32. Unaware of the actual trigger, and assuming the way his daughter dresses is it, he teaches his daughter to focus on her clothes rather than any actual triggers, thereby putting her in more danger.

    It's the Dunning-Kruger effect!
    Ignorant people fail to recognize the depths of their own ignorance; fail to recognize the superior knowledge of [basically everyone else on this thread]; overestimate the value of their own opinions; and vehemently reject correction. Also, mansplaining.

  33. I have to agree with Rowdy that "jump outta the bushes" rapists won't care if you're wearing nothing or a burka(reference rape stories in Islamic countries).

    This may come from being older than I should be but my viewpoint on this like ANY violent crime is that evil exists; we don't live in a perfect world. I shouldn't have to carry a gun to protect my family from deadly force, but I carry a gun because I doubt deadly force is going to respect only my opinion. I shouldn't have to maintain situational awareness even with friends and/or acquaintances to protect my family from being taken advantage of, but I maintain situational awareness even when others don't. I'll admit paranoia doesn't run in my family it gallops, I'm not saying this is the way everyone should chose to live.

    There seems to be a paradox between evil(defined as truly hurting others)being solely responsible for it's actions and the responsibility of good people to stop it. Mode of dress doesn't even seem relevant to me in this rather difficult philosophical discussion.

  34. Rowdy - 1. I feel like it can't be repeated enough, and often gets sort of "yeah but"ed in these discussions, that most rape victims are wearing completely everyday ordinary clothes--very often, for obvious if incredibly sad reasons, pajamas.

    2. Whoa. I never really connected it like that before--short skirts are dangerous for everyone.

    My bad; I bought into the "male equivalent" bullshit, and forgot that the male equivalent of a short skirt is, duh, a short skirt.

  35. As a father of a daughter I do teach her to be aware of the predators in our society and the potential triggers that might cause them to hunt.

    Don't teach your daughter that wearing the "wrong" clothes will bring bad attention on her. No matter how you phrase it - no matter how much you make it about the "predators" and not about her - she will also inherently learn the unspoken flip side of that lesson: that wearing the "right" clothes will keep her "safe".

    Then the first time that she gets harassed while wearing jeans and a winter coat and a huge toque (it will happen) her first thought will be "But...I wasn't even showing any skin!" and she will wrack her brain to figure out what she did to deserve that bad attention. And that's a shitty, shitty headspace to be in (and also entirely unhelpful).

    The best thing you can teach your daughter is that her body is hers and nobody has the right to touch her without permission. Teach her that if someone so much as gives her a friendly pat on the back, if she's not comfortable with that person making physical contact she can and should say so.

    Also, skimpy clothing is not something that causes predators to "hunt". Most rapes and sexual assaults aren't perpetrated by some dude jumping out of the bushes(because a girl's outfit made him so darned horny or for any other reason); they're perpetrated by guys in social situations who subtly test women to figure out who's not good at defending their boundaries. Therefore, a woman who says "Hey, dude, back it up. You're standing too close to me" is less likely to be sexually assaulted than a woman who smiles uneasily and lets the guy creep all over her - even if the first woman is wearing a miniskirt and the second is in jeans and a baggy t-shirt.

    More info here:

  36. TfT, check your analogy. Let's say that it were the case that your Crips v. Bloods analogy made sense. For that to be true, the sexes would have to be locked in a battle, such that showing the colors of femininity made you, in the eyes of men, the legitimate victim of rape. (Much as showing the Crip colors make you a legitimate victim of violence to a Blood.)

    *If* your analogy were remotely applicable, it would say such terrible things about relations between the sexes that some sort of UBERFEMINISM would be called for to fight back.

    Fortunately, your analogy isn't valid. Rape culture encourages a comparatively small number of predators, most of them repeat predators, to select targets for raping on the basis of idiosyncratic criteria that no woman can reasonably expect to avoid.

    The real consequences of outfits deemed "slutty" is slut-shaming, no more. Once you realize the perfect vacuity of that argument* it's clear that what needs to be fought is not "slutty" outfits, but rather slutshaming. Hence the Slutwalk.

    *Why are we discouraging her from wearing "slutty" clothes? Because she'd be a slut, and it's shameful to be a slut! But why? Because!

  37. p.s. when I talked about guys harassing a woman who's wearing jeans, a winter coat, and a giant toque, I wasn't being facetious; it's happened to me on more than one occasion. I've gotten catcalled/"hey baby"ed/insulted/etc. plenty of times when I was wearing modest clothing; possibly just as often as when I've been coming home from a nightclub in a tiny little dress. Men don't harass women because they want to fuck them; they harass women because they want to control them. And acting creepy toward a woman will frighten her no matter what she's wearing, so...

    And I've definitely been creeped out by guys in broad daylight and public places far more than when I've been walking alone at night. Partly, this is because I avoid walking alone at night because society assures me that that's when "predators hunt" - so if I'm barely ever out alone at night, of course I won't have experienced a lot of nighttime harassment. But the fact remains that a whole lot of creepy shit happens to me on crowded subways in broad daylight. Being afraid of the dark hasn't "kept me safe" and neither has wearing the "right" things.

  38. Also, if someone put on an event for a city to come together and stand against gang violence, no one (reasonable) would say, "why oppose gang violence? Just don't wear those colors."

    I wish people would treat rape like other violent crime. As in, being obviously bad, and harming the fabric of the whole community.

  39. Sorry I'm veering totally off-topic, but I wanted to clarify what I said above.

    Just to clarify I know rape is complicated and there are many factors that make it different from other types of crime, it just makes me sad that so often people don't even treat it like a social problem. When people are murdered, neighborhoods will come together and hold vigils and fundraise for the family etc., I think in part out of a strong feeling of solidarity with the victim. But rape is always treated like a private issue that only hurt the person who was raped. I don't know if this is a cause, or symptom, or both, but I think victim-blaming is really tied up in bystanders' failure to see rape as a crime against their whole community.

    To get back to this totally awesome post that should make me happy and not melancholy in the comments section, I see that there's a slutwalk in my city this summer! There's a ton of them, and you can check for your city here:

  40. Whoops, I linked too quickly before...that article is interesting, but this is the one that shows the research on how rapists choose their victims:

    Obviously, there's no secret code of conduct women can follow that gives guaranteed immunity from rape and sexual assault...but I think showing girls this link and teaching them to stand their ground under pressure will generally be a damn sight more helpful than telling them "Honey, you'd better not wear a short skirt in public or some man might go crazy with lust and try to stick his penis in you!"

  41. Here's a PSA from Rape Crisis Scotland that says it beautifully:

  42. We'll be there, as you already know.

    And Tit for Tat, shut the fuck up.

    I WAS someone's daughter. I was like YOUR daughter. I had a father who cared about my wellness and taught me the way you are teaching yours. And because my father was a good man, and because I obeyed him, I was a GOOD girl. I didn't go out at dark, I never drank, I wore clothes modest and androgynous, I did EVERYTHING I could POSSIBLY think of to avoid being raped.

    And you know what? I STILL got raped. Because it had nothing to do with my motherfucking clothes. And I just felt worse, because I did everything right! I did everything everybody told me to do!

    And I was STILL fucking blamed for it! Because I didn't get away fast enough, or because I didn't fight back hard enough, or because didn't I realize I was INVITING danger by walking around being pretty?

    You want to know what else puts me in danger? Being queer. Being trans. Being multiple. I've been told by well-meaning people like you--people like my FATHER, a good man just like I'm sure you are--that if I just stopped being queer, or trans, or multiple, I would be okay, because don't I realize that I'm INVITING HARM by just EXISTING?

    They don't even seem to realize that they're literally ASKING ME TO DIE to keep me safe.

    I was someone's daughter. I was someone's child, just like your daughter is yours. And in the end, I was still completely alone, and all I had was the feeling that if I'd only done better, tried harder, I could've saved myself.

    But I couldn't, because I was only sixteen. And because it wasn't clothes, or going out at night, or drinking, or being alone with strangers that ended up doing me in. It was that I wasn't invincible.

    So now I dress in men's clothes, even though people told me that would get me raped and beaten up. I'm openly identifying as queer, and trans, and all the rest of it, even though it makes me more at risk for violence. I made myself miserable doing everything right and still got my stupid ass raped, so I might as well just be me. What the hell have I got to lose?

    I might be more likely to get murdered on the street, but I'm a hell of a lot happier.

    Sorry for ranting on your blog, Holly. But shit like this is exactly why I'm marching out there with you tomorrow.


  43. Thomas has a beautiful piece on what to tell his daughter when she's a little older:

    Everyone with kids should read it.

  44. funny thing- I was just thinking that I get harassed wearing work clothes (business attire), but not while wearing my collection of floaty, spaghetti strapped cleavagey sundresses. being raised by a guy like titfortat, I immediately thought "wow my covered up body is sexier- " it's where I wear this stuff. I wear business clothes downtown- the site of many violent attacks. I wear sundresses in my neighborhood where screams will literally bring dozens of people running- I've seen it and been one of those people who came running.

    it's not the clothes. ITS NOT THE CLOTHES.

  45. Rowdy

    Thanks for the reference.

  46. What I think is the issue, with everyone piling on on TfT, is the difference between what is, and what should be.

    What Is: Clothing *can* attract undesired attention.
    What Should Be: Everyone is respectful of everyone's clothing choices, and infers no meaning from them.

    WI: Most rapists know their victims (or targets or whatever term you choose to apply to the recipient). Some, by definition, do not. Most rapes happen in the home. Again, some, by definition, do not. An argument could be made that what PUA's do is rape, but that's a different topic.

    WSB: Sex isn't used as a tool of fear, intimidation, or hatred, and a person's dress, location, or activity does not put them at risk.

    WI: I want my daughters to not be victims of any crime, so I teach them ways to deal with crime, such as how to fight off an attacker, and how to not expose themselves to situations where they may be a target of opportunity. Clothing choices, sadly, do come into the discussion.

    WSB: We all get along in a peaceful society where crime doesn't exist.

    To sum up my point: While the majority of crimes against women are perpetrated by an assailant known to the victim, some (25%, from my research) are not. The ones that are not choose their victims through some set of criteria. Avoiding meeting those criteria reduces the likelihood of being chosen. Should a woman be able to walk down a bike path at night, stark naked, and have no fear of attack? Yes. Is that the world we live in today? Not a bit.




    Again, teaching a woman that skimpy clothes attract unwanted attention implies that wearing modest clothes will keep her all nice and comfy-womfy-safe. IT DOESN'T.

    If you drop that line of bullshit and focus on teaching the woman that nobody has the right to touch or harass her, EVER - guys will still touch or harass her at some point. But instead of going home to cry and wonder what she did to deserve it, she'll go home angry that some pissant chose to act disrespectful.

    Anger feels a fuck of a lot better than self-blame.

    Besides which, a lot of sexual harassers are just bullies - they say shit to women because they thrive on making us shrink down and scurry away in fear. A woman walking around confidently, secure in the knowledge that nobody has the right to harass her, may in fact be less likely to be harassed - she won't look like as fun a target as someone who already seems apprehensive and self-doubting.

  49. Tit for Tat and Anon 9:14:

    Let's say a woman is walking down an empty street at night, wearing a miniskirt. Some guy starts following her and making repeated, unwanted comments about her sexy legs.

    Do you believe that if this woman had chosen to wear pants that day, the guy would have completely left her alone?

    I'm honestly curious.

  50. I have a guy friend with spiky multicoloured hair who regularly wears outlandish, glam-rock clothes.

    If he was walking down the street, minding his own business, and someone came up and started making rude comments about his hair and outfit and ultimately ended up beating my friend up, everyone who knew him would be amazed - it would seem ridiculous that someone could get so worked up over an outfit that he'd physically harm someone who was just peacefully walking to the store. We would see the guy as an attacker and an asshole.

    I can't imagine anyone sheepishly muttering, "Well, Anton, I did leave the house wearing those tight zebra-striped pants..."

    So why is it different for women?

  51. I'm not Tit for Tat or that anon, but I'd like to say no, I doubt wearing pants would change much in that hypothetical situation of a woman walking at night. If someone is looking to catcall, stalk, assualt, or harass someone, the clothing is usually not the deciding factor, as several people having been saying over and over and over. The last time I got followed by a guy making comments about MY "sexy legs" was when I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt in the middle of the day. I regularly get ogled and harassed at work (a public library in a safe, smallish city) NO MATTER WHAT I WEAR. The location doesn't seem to matter that much either. I get inappropriate attention more often at work or walking around Berkeley or San Francisco in the middle of the day than I do at bars or parties or walking around by myself at night.


  52. anon

    Im not sure I should comment, afterall I dont particularly like be called a fucking moron if someone doesnt like what I say.

  53. I'm there with ya, TfT... but I'm a glutton for punishment, so....

    @anon 12:14 - no, I don't think that it would make any difference.

    Here's one back at you: Can clothing attract unwanted attention?

    It seems to me that in the 25% of rapes that are perpetrated by a stranger, there is a selection criteria.

    Some are situational, like: "Can I get away with this, here, now?" I base that on the fact that rapes don't regularly occur in front of police stations, or on the hood of cruisers (unless perpetrated by the cops, but that's another subject).

    But rape isn't just a crime of opportunity, so there are other selection criteria... Anyone willing to throw out some ideas on what they might be? (I know... it sounds like I'm being an ass, but I'm genuinely asking the question.)

  54. "Anyone willing to throw out some ideas on what they might be?"

    Not really, no. The group of stranger predators--and if we're talking about jump-from-the-bushes, they're far less than 25%--have varied criteria that are impossible to effectively predict. Because these criteria are preferences, just as varied as all other human preferences.

    I'm serious! Take serial killers, the extreme case of stranger assault. Until a killer is repeatedly active in an area, nobody pretends to know what their targets are like. Some serial killers prefer one thing, some prefer another. The only cross-killer commonalities tend to be situational--being alone, or a sex-worker, or so on. Whether a serial killer attacks women in short skirts or brunettes with bob haircuts or people in college sweatshirts is entirely impossible to predict in a general way.

    Similarly, rapists, who each have their own range of preferences, really cannot have their selection criteria boiled down past situational matters.

  55. In general, violent criminals disproportionately target people who look "weak," or vulnerable in some way. There is actual data to suggest that having an ungraceful walk, looking distracted, looking fearful, or lacking the ability to interpret others body language all correlate with being a victim of stranger rape. (Which means, by the way, that I would be at high risk even if I were wearing a flour sack). I've also read that wearing unusually modest clothes can be a risk factor, because modest dress is often read as "insecure" or "submissive." (While less modest dress is read as 'slutty' cause ladies can't f*cking win.)

    I have never seen any data to back up the assertion that wearing "slutty" clothing gets you raped.

  56. I was at the Toronto one, and it was AWESOME! Such great spirit! I'm so proud of the organizers, and of the fact that it's gone global.

    Also, my psychiatrist is one of those people who agree with the police offier. o.O

  57. Ick... is there any oversight on psychiatrists saying horrible things like that?

  58. t marissa get a new psychiatrist :(

  59. Fugitivus:

    What some women do have is cultural approval to be raped.

    A criminal wants to A) commit a crime and B) get away with it. When we’re talking about rape, any woman fits the bill for A. But only women that bystanders believe deserve to be raped fit the bill for B.

    When somebody says, “I don’t think women should be raped for wearing short skirts, but what do they expect when they do go out like that?” what you are actually saying is that if a woman in a short skirt is raped, you will be less likely to hold her rapist culpable. Which makes a woman in a short skirt really appealing to a rapist. That’s something that you did. That’s not something the woman in the short skirt did, or something the rapist did. You made that woman a more comfortable target by making it clear that if she got raped, you would be less upset about it, less willing to see the rapist go to jail, less willing to support the woman. A woman is not increasing her risk of being raped by wearing a short skirt. You are increasing her risk of being raped by saying that women who get raped in short skirts should have expected that. Rapists hear you say that. By only raping the women that bystanders agree should be raped, a rapist reduces his chance of being caught and, if caught, punished. And that is why he will pick those women, over and over again, not because there is something more appealingly rapeable about them — they have what any woman has, as far as rape goes — but because he will be less likely to be held culpable for his actions.

    “Women shouldn’t be raped for doing X, but really what do they expect if they do X,” really says, “Rape a woman for doing X and I am not going to be the one who calls the police.” And then a woman who does X gets raped and suddenly it’s, “She was raped for doing X!” instead of “She was raped because I made it clear I would not punish a rapist who only raped women who did X!”

    Cause and effect people. Women don’t get raped because of things they do or do not do. They get raped because a rapist wanted to rape a woman, and made a very rational decision to rape a woman you don’t give a shit about so he wouldn’t go to jail. Women get raped because rapists decide to rape them, but rapists choose which women to rape because there are some women you believe deserve to get raped, and a rapist was listening carefully when you said that.


    Just saying.

  60. I came across this, which profiles "stranger" rapists:

    It tends to support the "submissive target" theory, saying that the majority (81%) are "Power Reassurance" or the least violent.

    Hard data is difficult to find, but in what I've been able to find clothing isn't even mentioned...

    Let me say that I do appreciate the ability to have reasonable dialogue on what is an incredibly charged subject.

  61. Im not sure I should comment, afterall I dont particularly like be called a fucking moron if someone doesnt like what I say.

    Annnnnnnnnnd this is how we can tell a troll from someone genuinely ignorant who just needs a bit of education: the latter would actually participate in the discussion by, say, acknowledging what everyone else is saying and answering questions that people have asked him.

    A troll, on the other hand, just keeps stating his opinion over and over again, even though a hundred people are saying "I've actually been in the situation you're talking about and it didn't work like that". When people start producing statistics that actually prove him wrong, he bails entirely.

    But not because he's wrong, of course. Because we're all being so meeeeeean to him.

  62. The funniest part of all this "skimpy clothes attract bad attention" stuff is that most young adult males these days walk around with their pants so low on their hips that the entire back of their underwear is exposed - nothing between the world and their ass but one thin layer of cotton knit.

    What kind of attention do you suppose they're asking for? :)

  63. News reports are claiming around 2,000 people attended, Holly. It's gotten a lot of attention.

  64. But not because he's wrong, of course. Because we're all being so meeeeeean to him.(Anon)

    yep, because thats what its about, whether Im wrong and youre right. You win.

  65. Y'know TfT I don't care for the snarkily dismissive "moron" thing either but when you sit there and repeat "but it causes bad attention" no matter how many women report their experiences with rape and harassment, or how that same atttitude affected the aftermath, and then go totally silent with the exception of complaining how you've been treated...

    Yeah, I can pretty much see why people are calling you a troll. If you want to stick your foot into the hot water, and saying dressing for "bad energy" causes otherwise somehow avoidable rapes is some VERY hot water, then sulking when you get temperamental responses and ignoring responses directly contrary to your assertion of how the world works isn't exactly indicating your status as the grown-up in the discussion.

    Nor, for that matter, does giving every impression of wanting to "protect" your daughter in this fashion because it makes YOU feel better but may very well harm her more so long as you don't have to question that comfort zone.

  66. Anon @ 1:58 PM "But rape isn't just a crime of opportunity, so there are other selection criteria... Anyone willing to throw out some ideas on what they might be?"

    Oh, definitely!

    - Timid, submissive attitude. Sadly, some people are really good at scanning body language for that. Projecting fear and conflict avoidance and the idea that you're easily terrorized are things that, I suspect, rapists scan for. (This makes all the more sense if you consider how much this is about power and control - if it was just about sex, that guy could just get a prostitute.)

    - Inability/unwillingness to defend boundaries. Less easy to judge by just watching a woman walk down the road, but quite easily ascertained by initiating small, escalating boundary crossings (getting into her space as she waits by the bus stop, sneaking a touch and checking to see if she protests or just moves away and pretends it didn't happen). Alas, some women are heavily socialized to allow people, including strangers, to mess with their boundaries without speaking up. I had high school friends who were groped by an elderly guy on a crowded bus and never said a word because they "didn't want to cause trouble".

    - Inattention to surroundings, seeming out of it or unaware.

    Tit for Tat, my heart goes out to you being a loving father and wanting to keep your daughter safe. But you'll do her a ton more good if you teach her to stand up for herself, to project confidence, to believe in her own strength and her right to control her own body, and to defend her own boundaries (loudly, confidently, without fear of "making a fuss") when they get encroached on even just a little bit. This will do her a lot more good no matter what she may be wearing at any given time. Heck, teaching her that clothing can make her a target, if it ends up making her feel scared anytime she winds up wondering if what she's wearing may be "too slutty", could have just the opposite effect of what you are aiming for, no matter how good your intentions.

    It may be counterintuitive to think that no, sexy clothing really doesn't do much to attract rapists (catcallers, maybe, but not rapists). But again, remember that this isn't nearly as much about sex and horniness as it is about control and needing to feel powerful. Projecting "I am a tough cookie who will not be cowed and terrorized by you" has a much better chance of keeping away the predators.

    Not to say, of course, that timid women somehow "invite rape" or (heaven forbid) "deserve rape" either. Nobody does any inviting, it's still the choice and the crime of the asshole who does it. Just saying that even if we do want to go down the route of "so what do stranger rapist look for?", slutty clothing still isn't the big factor people think it is.

  67. Labrat

    Other than you I think only one person referred to me as trolling. I posted a comment and Holly and I had a back and forth on the idea. Many posters passionately disagreed with me, some loosely agreed with some of my idea. I read the reference links and learned some stuff(thanks again). This post led to some great discussion with my daughter and we had a good back and forth too. Hell, my wife even chimed in. All in all it was a good experience. Now, in regards to not answering a question from anon, that doesnt make me an immature person, nor does it make me wrong about certain ideas. Sometimes life is too short so I chose not to respond to an rude angry commenter. That's the great thing about democracy the right to choose. I appreciate the discussion and hope to engage in others in the future.


    Thanks for the advice. My daughter is very confident and we discuss situational stuff all the time. She is maturing into a extremely capable young woman.

  68. Tit for Tat: you weren't ignoring a "rude angry commenter". You were ignoring someone who was trying to engage you in a reasonable conversation.

    There's more than one anonymous on this thread. I'm the one who asked that question. The person calling rape apologists "fucking morons" was someone else.

    I agree that rape apologists are fucking morons, of course, but I wasn't automatically lumping you into that camp. I was trying to find out more about your attitudes first, and to perhaps get you thinking on the subject so you'd figure out the truth for yourself - that skimpy clothes aren't the reason men behave a certain way, just an excuse they use.

    But then you started behaving suspiciously like a HUGE TROLL and I knew there was no point in trying anymore.

  69. TfT, the fact is that the whole slutty outfits argument is one that is used to justify and apologise for rape after the fact, as in, 'she was wearing a slutty outfit, so clearly she invited/deserved it'. If you are going to use a similar argument (to take a leaf out of you're book) it shouldn't be surprising that people suspect you of being a rape apologist.

    To take you at your word, however, you're just trying to protect your daughters. That's great. The problem is, it's the people raising sons who really have the ability to reduce rape, by raising them to understand what rape is, and that it's a terrible crime no matter what anyone was wearing, and (most importantly, as most men aren't rapists) raising them to shoot down rape jokes and boundry-testing behaviour whenever they see it in male peers.

    When you are raising daughters, the most important thing is to raise them to not take any boundry-testing shit, including rape jokes, from men they associate with. It sucks - believe me, as a woman who has been raped and would like for it to not happen again, it really fucking sucks - but the fact is that there's not much more you can do. The fact is that statistics show that the way girls dress does not affect how likely they are to be raped, only the nature of the victim-blaming that occurs after the fact. The best thing you can do for your girls is to raise them to know that rape is never the victim's fault, so they can be good allies to their friends and so that, gods forbid, should anything happen, the additional weight of self-blame will be less.

    To repeat, dressing modestly does not prevent rape. Teaching girls, or anyone, that it does is harmful to all girls (because their behaviour is being policed and analysed) and especially to the victims of rapists (because whatever they were wearing, it will be analysed for 'sluttiness' and used to blame them).

  70. I am so tired of seeing the unfortunate trend of women dressing like prostitutes. It's unattractive. It's visual pollution. I am a woman. I will not be raping you; but spare me the view of your whole body. I don't force that on you. I don't care for overexposure on men either, but that does not happen with nearly the same frequency, at least not where I live.

    Slutwalks are just attention whoring in a presumably safe environment. This is not empowerment, and it won't change people's minds.

  71. Grerp - Other people aren't here for your visual pleasure.

    I think bulldogs are ugly as sin, but I don't think they should be banned and I certainly don't think it's okay if they're abused, because I understand that my opinion of their appearance isn't the most important thing in the world.

    Slutwalks are trying to get attention--being a protest and all--but they're trying to get attention to draw it to our cause, which is stoping the shaming and blaming of women deemed "slutty."

    Also, a lot of this isn't about "dressing like prostitutes." A lot of this is actually about dressing in completely ordinary clothes, and still getting called "slut," or still getting the "well, look what she was wearing" or "well, look at her sexual history" cards played if we're victims of abuse or assault.

    The point isn't that we should be dressed like strippers all the time, but that we shouldn't be judged on how we dress or how "sexual" we seem, whatever that may be.

  72. Bulldogs don't dress themselves. For them, it's "come as you are."

    I see a lot of women dressed quite skeezily outside of the Slutwalk venue. I thought female empowerment was supposed to cause less objectification of the female form, not more. Girls are signing up for more, more, more all the time and voluntarily. Progress.

    Society always decides what is appropriate to wear. It decides what is fashionable, it decides what is drab. It makes the call on what to cover and what to expose. This has, of course, varied through history, but there is a general consensus of what a streetwalker looks like now, and trying to change/morph that into acceptable daywear via protests and parades is pissing in the wind.

    Catcalling will not end if/when women cover all their skin, but it will only increase if they uncover it. This is the process society uses to get individuals to conform to general expectation.

  73. Grerp - I thought female empowerment was supposed to cause less objectification of the female form, not more.

    Objectification doesn't have to do with how you dress. It has to do with how people react to how you dress. If you wear a bikini and people talk to you like a person, you are not being objectified; if you wear a buttoned-up pantsuit and people still treat you like a body that only exists for their sexual gratification or background decoration, you are being objectified.

    (And yes, both of those scenarios absolutely happen all the time.)

    And like I said, this isn't a movement to get everyone to dress like streetwalkers. This is a movement to say that women who dress like streetwalkers aren't acceptable targets for abuse, and if you abuse them, you're not the innocent mouthpiece of "society," you're a person making the decision to commit abuse.

    No, we can't fix everything with this protest. But I hope it helps a little.

  74. Tit for Tat - Several of your comments, and those of anonymous commenters arguing with you, were deleted.

    Commenters, please try to stay within a couple miles of the post topic and don't use the comments just to argue with each other.