I had a conversation at work which has left me rather unsettled. It was not the heated debate with the male misogynistic consultant (MMC) about victim blaming in cases of rape, that has left me unsettled. I am proud of challenging his views – I didn’t win but I didn’t let sexist dogs lie either!
It was the conversation in which he relayed that I had upset the female PA who joined in the debate because I didn’t agree with their views and offended her religious sensibility! Because I was standing up for rape victims!!
The conversation started thusly
MMC: I’m not saying that women shouldn’t be allowed to wear what they want . . .
Me: You need to stop talking now!
MMC: BUT . . . essentially the next 20 minutes was them telling me that men can’t help themselves if they see flesh and women should conform to societies standards or put up with it if someone attacks them.
So to be clear my stance is that no one should be attacked ever – violence in any form against anybody is not OK.
The blame lies solely on the perpetrator regardless of if it is;
- a women walking home alone after a night out in skimpy clothing
- a man wearing the opposing teams sports strip
- a person wearing a piece of clothing marking their religion or culture
- a teenager wearing the wrong school tie
While I do tend to dress within societies expectations of me. I wear smart clothes to work and a suit to job interviews, I would wear a posh dress to a wedding and a bikini on a beach. But I don’t think that any one should be judged if they choose not to conform to these norms and they certainly bear no responsibility for the actions of other people. Here is a good sketch illustrating ridiculous ‘she was asking for it‘ becomes if you apply it to other situations.
I am astounded that more men are not up in arms against the argument that men can’t be held responsible for their actions if a bit of flesh is on show. Are 50% of the population barely containing themselves from violently attacking the other 50% at all times, is all it takes to upset the status quo a bit of flesh. If so then how do they cope at the beach or swimming pool and why is rape still common place in countries where women habitually cover up more than in the west?
On other hand what if a woman wants to attract a sexual partner when she goes out for an evening, in dressing to be alluring to the opposite sex does she waive her right to choose who that partner is?
There is always in life a bit of a grey area. I’m not talking about if the woman was drunk or had been kissing the guy earlier in the evening – if a man can tell when its appropriate to give someone a cup of tea then the same applies to sex. There maybe a situation though where a woman consents at the time, but could feel regret and shame to the point that they claim it was rape to save face. Rape fantasy is surprisingly common, but not I suspect because the woman actually wants to be rape, but this is the only way she can assimilate certain sexual fantasies will what society dictates is decent! Even in this case though the blame lies not with the woman, but with the society that has shamed her. Why is a man celebrated for his sexual prowess and a woman slut shamed. The sexism is in the double standard – if society wants to celebrate celibacy then it must apply to all.
Similarly what is said about a woman who wears jeans, a loose fitting shirt and flat shoes to go out – that she had made no effort? She should have more pride? Take more care of herself? But that is what men wear on a night out . . . perhaps we will know equality is really here when women having the right to wear what they want means just that and not to impress a man or conform to society – for now though isn’t it easy? Just do what THEY say and ‘be a lady’!