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to think there's no item of clothing or lack of that puts a woman at risk of sexual assault?

493 replies

countless · 15/05/2011 10:12

i was just listening to 2 women and a man on r4 discussing the upcoming slut march, the name makes me cringe but i get the idea behind it...
the consensus of the 2 women was that women should be aware that what they wear has an effect upon other people that they is out of their control...

the male presenter very wisely didn't comment.

am i alone in thinking this is profoundly depressing? do people still think that it's womens clothing or lack of that encourages sexual assault??

why don't people realise that any woman or girl is at risk from a rapist and that no one is 'asking for it'. which is the message i take from discussions on womens clothing

OP posts:
millie30 · 15/05/2011 11:27

LWW, I agree. I saw posts on another forum regarding the Emmerdale storyline, along the lines of "Who would want to rape her?"

The ignorance was disgusting and perpetuated the myth that rape is motivated by sex, not violence. I also agree that it puts women into a position where they can't win. If they dress a certain way then they must have been asking for it, and if not then they must be lying as they are not considered sexually attractive enough to be raped.

Instead of there being a constant stream of discussions about how women should modify their behaviour to avoid being partly responsible for their own rape, why not start focussing on the behaviour of the perpetrators who are the only ones to blame.

TidyDancer · 15/05/2011 11:28

As do I Jeremy, it's horrible to think a woman is responsible. She is not, and never will be. But I think you get where I'm coming from. It's risk management.

squeakytoy · 15/05/2011 11:30

But Millie, how do you focus on the behaviour of perpetrators, if they have never been convicted? I have already outlined the behaviour and mindset of opportune rapists and what they look for in their potential victim.

By all means go out wearing whatever the hell you like, shoes as high as you want, but stay with your friends, dont walk home alone, and dont put yourself in a situation where you could become the target.

MoreBeta · 15/05/2011 11:31

There was another thought provoking thread on this issue following a BBC Jeremy Vine phone in show earlier in the week.

Wearing a short skirt or revealing clothing does not make you more vulnerable to rape. I can tell you that 100% certain. It may provoke 'normal' blokes to look at you, maybe approach you, chat you up, wolf whistle and make remarks. Some of which women may find very unwelcome. Only a rapist rapes women though and it doesn't matter what you wear.

Everyone, man or woman out alone on the streets at night off their face with drink/drugs is more vulnerable to violence/mugging/abuse. Everyone should act sensibly to avoid unecessary risk but that is an entirely different question to what a woman chooses to wear on a night out.

Takeresponsibility · 15/05/2011 11:32

I believe there are two types of rape, the type PrinceHumperdink (big UnMumsnetty hug to you) describes which is nothing to do with sexual attraction but is about power and abuse and has everything to do with the perpetrators psychological profile and nothing to do with the victims physical one.

The other type of rape is commonly described as "date rape" where the perpetrator believes that they are being given signals that indicate a sexual liaison would be welcomed. Various elements can add to this impression - light flirting, exposure of the body, provocative shoes/clothing, excess alcohol etc.

I am the mother of a daughter (now 23) who is frankly stunning, and we have had long talks about how the message her clothing is sending may not be the one she intends to send. I have taught her to stand up for herself and challenge inappropriate behaviour towards herself and her friends and enjoy her looks without being a victim of them.

I believe as Mothers we have a duty to make our daughters prpoud of their bodies and sexuality BUT also give them the confidence and social skills to deal with unwanted and inappropriate behaviour.

They won't learn these skills if we wrap them in cotton wool and chauffeur them everwherre until the day they move 300 miles away to go to UNI and are left to fend for themselves.

PrinceHumperdink · 15/05/2011 11:33

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PrinceHumperdink · 15/05/2011 11:36

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chibi · 15/05/2011 11:37

As long as you are a woman you are at risk

I can understand and almost empathise with the risk management attitude but it is magical thinking, it really is and detracts from the obvious point which is

it is not my fucking job to prevent men from raping me. It really really isn't.

DaisyLovesMetronidazole · 15/05/2011 11:39

Just to point out, men can be at risk too.

millie30 · 15/05/2011 11:39

SqueakyToy I did become a target. At 5pm on a sunny day walking home from the beach. How could I reduce the risk, unless I stayed indoors or disguised the fact that I am a woman? By suggesting that women contribute to their attack by "taking risks", it takes away culpability from the only person responsible, the attacker.

And some of the so called risks are simply normal things that we should have the right to do. I read with interest some of your posts on the other thread, where you mentioned a rapist in your local area. You listed areas for women to avoid, and it would mean a woman not being able to go to the park, take short cuts or use the bus and train station or public toilets. How on earth can this be an acceptable way for women to have to live, otherwise risking being partly responsible for their rape?

chibi · 15/05/2011 11:41

That is sooooo true about men being at risk too, i very nearly forgot about the men

What kind of clothes should they be wearing to keep themselves safe from rape?

squeakytoy · 15/05/2011 11:43

Okay, lets imagine this scenario.

Rapist is lying in wait for a victim. He spots two women walking separately down the road.

One is wearing low but very sexy boots, skin tight trousers, fitted low top with cleavage on displa, walking quickly, both arms free. Very attractive pretty girl, wearing gorgeous perfume.

The other is wearing a floaty but short dress, high platform sandals, faffing with her handbag, long ponytail, she too is a very pretty girl...

The man is desperate, he has to rape someone, its a quiet area, but it is residential, he doesnt want too much of a struggle...

Which one would he pick?

Looks have nothing to do with it, sexy clothes have nothing to do with it, he picks the one who he knows will be the easiest to rape. The one wearing least clothing. The one with the pony tail he can grab to yank her head back, and she is likely to lose her balance on her high heels.

So yes, the clothing DOES make the woman more vulnerable to a potential attacker.

chibi · 15/05/2011 11:43

Actually are you sure about men being at risk of rape? In my experience they mostly don't wear high heels or skimpy clothes, are you very sure because it seems unlikely in light of tgis

DaisyLovesMetronidazole · 15/05/2011 11:45

Men should wear bottoms that cannot be easily removed against their will and shoes in which they can escape.

Same goes for women.

Doing otherwise, however, does not make it their fault in any way should the worst happen.

chibi · 15/05/2011 11:45

Yes quite squeakytoy and to think if only tgey had dressed as subaru imprezas all that ugliness might have been avoided

PrinceHumperdink · 15/05/2011 11:46

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PrinceHumperdink · 15/05/2011 11:47

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BerryLellow · 15/05/2011 11:48

'it is not my fucking job to prevent men from raping me' - exactly.

CookieRookie · 15/05/2011 11:49

We cannot live our lives in fear of becoming a victim of rape. If we were to do that then we must be aware of every thought every rapist would ever have and use what we know have previously been the motives of rapists that we have read about, heard about or been the victim of before.

I must not look like a snooty cow who 'deserves it'. I must not be a larger woman who looks like his mother who beat him as a child. I must not be a schoolgirl in uniform. I must not be a mother walking with her child in a park in the middle of the day. I must not open my door to the salesman in the middle of the day. I must not kiss my new date if I don't plan on sleeping with him because then I'm just a pricktease. I must not look at any man in a cross manner for fear he will take offence and let fester his hatred towards me more than any other woman. I must not fire a male subordinate just in case. I must be nice to all taxi drivers even the ones who take the longer route...I must not look forward to going out at night with my friends wearing my new heels and my favourite skirt and top. Instead I must consider that a rapist might want to attack me. Well better be safe than sorry and just stay in.

If I had thought 10years ago that I should have had a larger, stronger door with a burly bouncer manning it 24/7 then maybe I would have been ok but I didn't think sitting in my home, with the window open and the door closed was an invite to a nutter. It was, who'd have thought? I got away btw but I have lived in fear since then. I cannot be alone in my home EVER.

squeakytoy · 15/05/2011 11:50

Chibi, if they had not walked alone, it may have been avoided is my point.

We can never take away all the risks, but we can minimise them. It is never the victims fault. Nobody asks or deserves to be attacked, but awareness of the dangers and doing what you can to make that risk less is the key.

It will not stop every attack, it will not stop a rapist being a rapist, but it will give them less opportunity.

LDNmummy · 15/05/2011 11:51

I only find this problem with western culture. The womans body has been made into something so alien by hiding it under clothes in the first place, that seeing it causes some perverse reaction IYSWIM (not rape, but the idea that a womans body incites rape). My culture isn't like this and even boys see their mothers bodies till they are adults in many cases. Houses generally have an open bedroom door environment and bodies are not hidden. It helped me understand the realities of how the human body looks, which as a young woman gives you a good counter view to what the media makes you think is normal. Young men grow up to understand what womens bodies are really like and do not have unrealistic idea of what a woman should look like either. It most importantly helps you to grow with a sense of the human body as something more than a sexual or taboo thing.

No clothes should definitely not influence, and in my opinion do not influence, whether or not you are more likely to get raped.

On another thread a poster made the point that the majority of rape does not happen in the context most people think. It is a myth that it generally happens when a girl is walking isolated and dressed 'like a slut' (ugh what a horrible term).

Most rape is planned from what I know, not a spur of the moment thing anyway, so it is hardly likely that a bloke is walking down the street and see's a woman in a short skirt and spontaneously decides to rape her (though I am sure that has sadly happened too, just pointing out it is not the usual).

Unfortunately this is just another way for society to blame the woman, and the woman's body having been made alien in western culture makes it an easy avenue for people to apportion blame by scrutinizing her attire.

I also use the example of a woman being raped by a man because it is factually far more common.

millie30 · 15/05/2011 11:52

Well said CookieRookie.

TidyDancer · 15/05/2011 11:52

Prince, I'm very sorry for what you went through. :(

My point though, and that of others, is that there are no absolutes with rape, and it would be naive to think otherwise. It is not about blaming the female, it is about understanding risk management, which certainly goes further than the way a woman is dressed. As Jeremy pointed out, there are rapes in her area that appear to be committed upon women who are alone and near alleyways. Does that make it the woman's fault because she was alone and near an alleyways. Of course it bloody well doesn't! But would that woman or women have been raped if she/they hadn't been there? No. Risk management. They should be able to walk wherever the fuck they want because they haven't done a thing wrong. The analogy is the same with the clothing. It's not about dressing provocatively (although some clothing is designed to give off an impression, that point is unrelated to sexual assault IMO). To play devil's advocate, as has already been said on this thread, it's potentially opportunist, and sadly easier for a rapist to rape a woman in a short skirt and heels than one in layers and shoes made for running. It's sick and horrible, but that's what I think the point is. Not in any way possible is the female to blame though. That's not an opinion I can understand or support.

squeakytoy · 15/05/2011 11:52

Nobody is ever so desparate they 'have' to rape someone

Why else do they do it? Serial rapists have been known to go out with the sole intent of raping a woman, any woman.

CravingExcitement · 15/05/2011 11:56

squeakytoy, "prettiness" or not has no bearing on whether a woman is likely to be raped, or men wouldn't rape elderly ladies, who in our society are definitely not considered "pretty"

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