The stupid, it burns

Yep, I’m writing about SlutWalk again because yet another male writer has missed the point. Jim Schembri has this nonsense in the National Times today: Straining to make sense of SlutWalk:

So, let’s see if we’ve got this straight: if the global wave of “SlutWalks” — as they are affectionately known — have made anything clear, it is this: it’s now perfectly OK to call a woman a “slut”. Or should be. Sort of. As long as it’s meant in a friendly way. Or not. I think.

Firstly, SlutWalk is the name of the march. It’s not an affectionate nickname. Secondly, Schembri demonstrates that like Nigel Bowen, we have another male writer who didn’t bother to even find out what SlutWalk was about before writing about it.

What he clearly meant to say was that the freedom to wear what you like should be tempered with common sense. In certain circumstances, a certain type of outfit will attract a certain type of attention you don’t want. So while the suggestive outfit you wore at the speed dating function went down a treat, it might be less so while taking the last train home alone in a carriage full of drunken bums. That’s all the cop meant. What sensible person would take issue?

I am a sensible person and I take issue with that. As we have to keep saying over and over and over again for the slow learners like Schembri who don’t think too deeply about what they’re saying, if someone decides to break the law, how is that my skirt’s fault? Sure, if you wear a “certain type of outfit”, people will look at your boobs or legs. I look at boobs and legs. But there’s a big difference between looking and leering. A douchebag might even believe he has the right to make a lewd comment to a complete stranger about her body. But it’s a massive leap from that to raping someone. Also, the suggestion that a “suggestive outfit” can cause men to turn into rabid raping animals is just ridiculous and incredibly offensive to men.

But it was form not content that has galvanised a global movement; the word “slut” ignited a Butterfly Effect that, thanks to the unparalleled power of social media to magnify misunderstandings and fuel falsehoods, has women dressing up in garish, provocative garb to protest against . . . to protest against . . . something or other.

Ha ha ha, Schembri reckons others have a problem with misunderstandings and falsehoods. He’s not much of a thinker, is he? As for the “garish, provocative garb”, you’ll find that it’s the mainstream media – such as Schembri’s own newspaper, The Age – that focusses on the tits and arses of a few marchers. And you can bet that when The Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph run photos of Monday’s SlutWalk in Sydney, they’ll do the same. It isn’t social media that “magnify misunderstandings and fuel falsehoods”.

All right-thinking people agree there is no excuse for any degree of sexual assault, that victim blaming is wrong, that no means no. We get that.

Um, no you don’t Schembri. You said earlier that a man can be excused for sexually assaulting a woman if she’s wearing a “suggestive outfit”. Again, he’s not one for thinking through his opinion, is he?

These people really should be watching a lot more Mad Men.

Women are “these people”? Oh, and what?

Rather than disowning such an offensive, emotionally charged term, the movement has effectively derailed itself by championing it, thus hard-wiring a bad cause into a good one.

Oh, some mansplaining. These women don’t know how to do their own protest the right way, so I’ll tell them.

And, as the media coverage has made painfully clear, the result has been a mess. Instead of offering clarity and unity over an important issue, all the Slutwalks have generated is confusion and division over a stupid one — especially among women.

Uh no. Just confusion among people like Schembri.

He then uses two films from 1933 as evidence that having sex doesn’t make a woman a slut. Yep, two films that are almost eight decades old. And then there’s some “oh, won’t someone think of the children” about how SlutWalk encourages girls to “flaunt their sexuality before they fully understand it”. Take a look around you, Schembri. The advertising and popular culture that saturates our days is what tells girls that their only value is sexual. Oh, the stupid, it burns.

And we want women to march, to protest, to make a fuss. They don’t do it enough. It’s a man’s world. That’s why it’s such a mess. All right-thinking men can’t wait for women to take over. It could use a good cleaning.

Oh, fuck you.

149 responses to “The stupid, it burns

  1. Tell me you send them a link to your article so they can read just how far off the mark their thought process is? I am so tired of mansplaining and having men who clearly have no experience or insight into what they talking about try and tell me what I (we) are doing wrong. Between the factual errors, the contradictions, cliches and the arrogance of this position – there isna’t actually much of substance. And people think this is informed comment/opinion?

  2. Rhiannon Saxon

    It has got so freakin’ tiresome. I have felt, when commenting on the endless, tedious, ‘women don’t know what they are marching for, but if you dress like that, no-one will respect you’ threads here and there, like I am pushing rocks uphill.

  3. one of the best placed fuck you’s I’ve seen a while /

  4. David Fawcett

    “Jim Schembri is an Age senior writer. ”

    For a senior writer I must say that article was very poorly written. I found it literally painful to read in parts. Damn it, my eyes still itch.

    In particular the phrase ‘Right-thinking people’ get’s my goat. It’s such a transparent grab for authority and dresses the argument up as being, ‘if you don’t agree with everything I’m saying then clearly you aren’t a right-thinking person’.

    While I disagree with what he said and how he said it I have to say that I’ve actually had a few women complain to me that SlutWalk suffered from a lack of definition as to the purpose of the cause, what it was about and even the effectiveness of addressing the key issues.

    On a personal note I decided not to attend the rally, largely because I realised that many of the men there would likely be turning out to see scantily clad women, not to support the cause and frankly I didn’t want any part of being associated with that. Frankly I figured my presence would do more harm than good in the circumstances and my support was better given remotely.

    I’m willing to accept that all these perceptions may be wrong. I’m willing to accept that my point of view may be biased. However the feedback is out there and even if it comes in the form of condescending manplaining there could be a grain of truth to it that can make the next rally better.

    • “For a senior writer I must say that article was very poorly written. I found it literally painful to read in parts.” Funny you should say that – I got a response from him and he said my piece was poorly written and I lacked self-respect as a writer.

      A lot of what has been written about SlutWalk, by writers like Schembri and Tory Shephard and Nigel Bowen, has completely missed the point. That is a big problem because their views are being published by the mainstream media. If someone is confused about what SlutWalk is about, then why don’t they doing something radical like look it up on the internet?

      • PUBLISH IT.

      • David Fawcett

        Hahahaha.. On the bright side when they start resorting to personal attacks you know you’ve gotten to them.

        I agree with you that many of the articles are missing the point, in fact I’d suggest they are deliberately missing the point – in effect: trolling. I’m not suggesting that you simply roll over any take it what I’m suggesting is that there may be a genuine undercurrent of confusion that they perceive and are using these tactics to try and exploit that confusion. I suppose I’m looking at the very specific way they are trolling and asking, ‘Why do they think that approach is going to be effective?’

        Re: Why not search? First link after googling ‘SlutWalk’ this is what I found by way of explanation for the purpose of it: “With your help, SlutWalk has become a mechanism for increased dialogue on victim-blaming, slut-shaming, misogynist and oppressive ideas that need to be challenged. These damaging ideas affect all of us and play into racist, ableist, homophobic discussions, discussions about status, class, sex work, indigenous rights and more that need to be challenged.”

        52 words and most of them jargon. If you can’t explain your cause in 25 words or less using plain language you have a communication problem. The explanation I posted above was from: http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/about/what where it wasn’t on the front page, it was part way down through a 4 part ‘About’ tab. I can tell by the way you write that you already know this though.

        The good news is that these are easy fixes. I hope you agree that I wouldn’t be supporting the cause if I didn’t suggest them and I hope you don’t see this as further ‘mansplaining’.

        • Lexy, posing as superdik here. David I totally agree. I’m going on the march and I support the cause but I think the protest suffers from poor communication and message. Trollumists will always find a way to deliberately misinterpret but there has been a lot of unintended confusion. When I mention it to people, it seems to have been confused with some kind of reclamation of the word slut/a defense of and big hooray to raunch culture (I personally take issue with raunch culture being seen as female empowerment).

          I agree with NWN that the post march press will focus on tits and arse only and that dick heads will pop along for a perve. I am also concerned that many women marchers will turn up scantily clad thinking they are reclaiming slut and proving they have a right to be sexy (which they do but this not the purpose of the protest)

          Perhaps they should have called the march, ‘skirts don’t rape’

          Finally ……that cleaning comment. Gasp! I’m sure he thinks he is soooooo funny….. what a total tosspot!

          • Everything I’ve read from people who are involved in SlutWalk or going on SlutWalk has been pretty clear in its message. The muddling has come from mainstream writers, like Schembri, who focus on the name of the march.

      • My fury and frustration has been growing with each successive ignorant, poorly argued opinion piece on slutwalk I’ve come across over the past couple of months, culminating in this execrable Schembri shite I read last night.
        I went to bed with a blown lobe, but what joy to wake this morning to find that an eloquent demolition of this abominable tosser’s intellectual flatulence has been carried out by news with nipples! You really do do our dirty work for us, nwn!
        Thankyou, and pardon the mixed metaphors, I’m just so happy to find this place.

  5. I cannot understand how society still doesn’t “get” this issue to the extent that this guy shows that it doesn’t. It is so sad that we still have to explain to this brand of loser that men are big enough to take responsibility for their own behaviour and that women should be safe whether they are dressed neck to knees or if they are doing a Lady Godiva. Maybe we could send Germaine Greer to his place … Just a thought.

    • Hi Sue Dodd, welcome to the News with Nipples. This is excellent: “It is so sad that we still have to explain to this brand of loser that men are big enough to take responsibility for their own behaviour and that women should be safe whether they are dressed neck to knees or if they are doing a Lady Godiva.”

  6. Wonderful blog post, but at the same time, I was happier before I read it.

  7. Great takedown! I am getting so sick and tired of people writing misinformed articles and Not Getting It while making no attempt TO get it! Bah. 😡

  8. perhaps he has done a good thing in keeping the issue mainstream. since the slutwalk took place the issues it was trying to raise have fallen from view.

  9. “Um, no you don’t Schembri. You said earlier that a man can be excused for sexually assaulting a woman if she’s wearing a ‘suggestive outfit'”

    What? No he didn’t.

    How can this misunderstanding continue to occur? There is an obvious, important and massive difference between excusing sexual assault and arguing that manner of dress contributes to the likelihood of being victimised. This difference exists whether you agree with the latter position or not, so I’m truly stunned by the intellectual laziness and dishonesty of those who continue to equivocate on this issue. If your argument is strong enough to stand on it’s own two feet there should be no reason for peddling blatant falsehoods.

    • Starfox, yes he did say that. As soon as anyone says if a woman dresses a certain way then she has to expect certain horrible behaviour, then you are giving an excuse for that horrible behaviour.

      Welcome to the News with Nipples, by the way.

      • Thanks for the welcome. And no, he didn’t say that. He unequivocally said rape is inexcusable, and never contradicted this position.

        Thinking an act inexcusable does not preclude encouraging potential targets of that act to take precautions. I have never heard it said, for example, that encouraging women to take self defense classes is making excuses on behalf of rapists.

        There is a sorry, sordid culture of victim vilification in our society that extends from frat rooms to offices and even into our courts. It’s a big fucking problem that merits our full attention. However, people who think a women’s mode of dress may increase her likelihood of falling victim to predatory behaviour are not party to this problem, and it’s frivolous and insulting to pretend they are. It trivialises the whole conversation. They may be wrong, and at least as concerns the act of rape itself I suspect they are, but they are not stupid, they are not misogynists, and they are certainly not rape apologists. How is this not blindingly fucking obvious?

        • Ah, but starfox, once you say women can do things to prevent rape, that women shouldn’t wear certain clothes, then you move into victim blaming territory. It’s as simple as that. And people who think outfits increase the likelihood of attack ARE a part of the problem because it tells women that they got attacked BECAUSE of what they were wearing, rather than just really bad luck.

          • It’s a basic human right to be able to go about your life without being attacked. That we’re arguing over a woman’s clothing suggests that you don’t agree with this basic human right. That’s a pretty hard position to defend.

            • “That we’re arguing over a woman’s clothing suggests that you don’t agree with this basic human right.”

              Wait.

              Stop.

              That’s the point where you crossed over. I thought we were having a conversation about ideas, but I see now you are happy to say whatever ridiculous and ad hominem thing you feel is necessary in order to win an argument. My mistake. Just so we’re clear, you find it “suggestive” of my not believing in the right to freedom from violence, because I said that positing the legitimacy of factoring attire into rape prevention does not indicate misogynistic intent? Like, really?

              • Oh, get your hand off it. Skirts don’t cause rape. Rape is caused by someone who decides to rape.

                • No shit. Who said otherwise?

                  • You did. Whenever you argue “that manner of dress contributes to the likelihood of being victimised”. Because that’s what you’re saying: clothes will cause rape. To use your own words again, that is “blindingly fucking obvious”.

                    • Yeah, no.

                      I was pretty explicit. I said that manner of dress DOES NOT contribute to the likelihood of being raped. I’ve said it twice. The data bares this out.

                      Manner of dress does appear to correlate to other forms of abuse though, such as catcalls and guys getting grabby at bars. Of course, nothing contributes to the likelihood of such occurrences quite so much as individual males being entitled, misogynistic assholes.

                    • So what is your point, exactly?

          • Starfox, you said: “I have never heard it said, for example, that encouraging women to take self defense classes is making excuses on behalf of rapists.”

            Actually, a lot of people say that encouraging women to take self-defence classes is part of the problem, because it puts the blame back onto women: “oh, you didn’t take a self-defence class, no wonder you got attacked/couldn’t fight him off”. So it’s not specifically making excuses on behalf of rapists, but it’s telling women that they got attacked because they didn’t prevent it. Sure, a self-defence class is a good idea for everyone, but let’s not pretend that it will stop rape. All the decades that we have devoted to telling women how to not be raped, we haven’t been telling men “don’t be a rapist”. That would be a much better way of going about it and one that might actually work.

          • “once you say women can do things to prevent rape, that women shouldn’t wear certain clothes, then you move into victim blaming territory. It’s as simple as that.”

            No, you don’t. And no, it’s not as simple as that.

            Women can do things to prevent rape.

            They shouldn’t have to, but they can. For example, they can carry a gun. Or take a self defense class. Or never leave the house. There’s a whole spectrum of things they can do. All of these things are a compromise, all of them are unfair, and some of them (at least one that I mentioned) is completely untenable. The point is, women can do things to prevent rape, and it’s not victim blaming to say so. On the contrary, it’s the opposite. It’s a form of empowerment.

            Now, whatever a woman CHOOSES to do to protect herself is her own damn business, and if that choice is to do nothing, then that’s as valid a choice as any other. In the event that someone making that choice is attacked, their attacker should feel the full force of the law, to no greater or lesser degree than had she been packing an uzi. But it’s societies job (especially as concerns educating young girls) to make sure that that choice is as informed as possible. Therefore, in as much as there is a demonstrated correlation between style of dress and victimisation (and there is, though not between style of dress and rape) then women should be aware of it. Not because they should be dressing demurely as a matter of course, but because they are ENTITLED to all the facts that are potentially relevant to their protection.

            This isn’t about limiting women’s options, or it doesn’t have to be. It SHOULD be about extending them. It’s about empowering women with information, so whatever choice they make will be an informed one.

            • Nope. It is not empowering to tell women that they can do these things to prevent being raped because that means that if they get raped it’s because they didn’t prevent it. Why can’t you understand this?

              • Uh no, if they get raped it’s because some asshole raped them. If they DON’T get raped when they otherwise would have then that, my friend, is empowerment.

                • No no no. Have you not paid attention to a single thing I’ve said? Here, let me shout it for you: WHEN YOU TELL WOMEN THAT THEY CAN PREVENT RAPE, THE MESSAGE IS THAT IF THEY GET RAPED IT WAS BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T PREVENT IT.

            • starfox, considering the fact that most rapists know their victims, by your logic women should empower themselves and prevent rape by not having fathers, brothers, male cousins, uncles, grandfathers,male teachers, male doctors, male workmates, male friends, husbands etc.
              Females have no choice but to associate with males. As you say yourself, there is no correlation between style of dress and rape. If you accept this, how can you continue to claim that women can avoid rape by avoiding particular styles of dress?

              • I haven’t. I said people who make that argument aren’t misogynistic idiots or rape apologists. They’re just wrong.

                However, remember that there are other forms of victimisation. Clothing doesn’t correspond to rape statistics, but it does correspond to incidences of various other kinds of unwanted attention. This I know only too well, and I think it is okay to say.

                • You might need a dose of this too.

                  See anything familar? this is your argument. And it is wrong, it is dangerous, it is patronizing, it is offensive, and it perpetuates rape culture.

                  “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.”

                  • Interesting. I don’t recall saying women should do anything at all. Even the examples I have mentioned of possible strategies for self protection (self defense classes, concealed weapon, etcetera) I have not said SHOULD be used, and have agreed that all are unfair compromises women should not be required to make. My comment is that women are entitled to have access to information about FACTS so that whatever decision they make as to how they will act, that decision will be fully informed.

                    Now: “…and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.”

                    I would like to ask you to find within anything I have written a single instance of my having invoked blame. If you cannot, I would like you to acknowledge as much, and to apologise for equating me with someone who would tell a victim of a crime that it was their own fault. Thanks in advance.

                    • Yes, and the facts are that in the vast majority of cases, a woman is attacked by someone she knows – a partner, a former partner, a work colleague, a relative, a friend. For decades our culture has told women that they can do things to prevent being attacked. What we’ve been arguing over and over again is that this does not work and that our culture should be telling boys and men not to attack women. Something like this:

                      If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
                      If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
                      If a woman is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
                      If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don’t rape her.
                      If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don’t rape her.
                      If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you’re still hung up on, don’t rape her.

                      When we tell women that they can take precautions to avoid being attacked, we’re selling them a big fat lie. THAT is what I’m mad about.

                    • “Women can do things to prevent rape. They shouldn’t have to, but they can.”

                      Now go and read the above passage I quoted again. (p.s. I didn’t write it, and the quote is not about you, stop trying to make this about you. Its about the idea you are presenting.).

                      “Women can do things to prevent rape.” – victim blaming
                      “Women can do things to prevent rape.” – implies fault
                      “Women can do things to prevent rape.” – contributes to a rape culture
                      “Women can do things to prevent rape.” – blame and fault on the victim, contributes to a rape culture, END OF STORY.

                      No ‘SHOULD’ qualifying bullshit. You said it – you said women can stop rape. BULLSHIT they can. The only person who can prevent a rape is the rapist. The only person. End of story, no qualifiers, nothing. If you’re still arguing against this, then I have nothing more to say.

                      Now let me go let the hem down on my skirt so I can be, in Starfox’s eyes, ’empowered’ by my choice to protect myself from rape or sexual assault. HA!

                    • “The quote is not about you, stop trying to make this about you. Its about the idea you are presenting.)”

                      In other words, you are incapable of doing what I asked, so are simply repeating your nonsensical and contradictory strawman argument. It’s not about what I have to say, but uh, it’s about… what I have to say. If I have presented the idea that victims of rape are at fault show me WHERE and HOW. Oh wait, you tried:

                      “Women can do things to prevent rape.” – victim blaming
                      “Women can do things to prevent rape.” – implies fault
                      “Women can do things to prevent rape.” – contributes to a rape culture
                      “Women can do things to prevent rape.” – blame and fault on the victim, contributes to a rape culture, END OF STORY.

                      I’ll tell you what… you go on believing that, if it bolsters your warped, black and white, US V THEM ideological worldview. It’s obviously of some comfort to you that you do so. I will go on protecting myself from violent crimes that, while they may still occur and would be the responsibility of others if they did, I have the power to at least TRY to prevent by taking proactive measures. Contributing to ‘rape culture’TM as perceived by Marlaina < preventing actual rapes from occurring. I am happy with those priorities.

                      "You said women can stop rape. BULLSHIT they can. The only person who can prevent a rape is the rapist. The only person. End of story, no qualifiers, nothing. If you’re still arguing against this, then I have nothing more to say."

                      I'm not surprised you have nothing more to say. You are an ideologue who has dug in her heels, as ideologues are wont to do. However, I do have something more to say: If someone tries to RAPE ME, and I shoot them in the face, that doesn't stop rape?

                      Sure, okay. Women can't stop rape. Good one. Anything else you'd care to take away from women?

                    • Starfox, I’m getting pretty sick of this. The point that you are failing to acknowledge is one that has been made over and over and over and over and over again. I’m not going to make it again. It’s probably time you left.

                    • “The point that you are failing to acknowledge is one that has been made over and over and over and over and over again. ”

                      Making a point repeatedly does not make it true. I have acknowledged your point. I simply disagree with it. In fact, I think your central argument, that women should not, much less CANNOT, take a proactive role in their own protection (and that to say they should or can is misogynistic) is a concrete example of anti feminism.

                      You however have repeatedly ignored the numerous salient points I have made in support of my position, which is that in a world where rapes are a regrettable reality, proactive measures taken by women to protect themselves are worthwhile and CAN stop rapes and other assaults from occurring. I have provided concrete examples of when this is objectively factual (when a target of assault shoots her would be assailant, among others) yet you conveniently ignore them, simply because they don’t jive with your ideology. It’s… discouraging, to say the least.

                    • Get your hand off it, starfox. You know very well that what we are saying is that we should not be focussing our anti-rape strategies on what women can do to prevent being raped. That is not an anti-feminist position.

                  • Thelma and/or Louise

                    Hi Marlaina, I’ve gotta say, in all seriousness, that’s a pretty good list of how to avoid getting sexually assaulted. I’ll print it up to show my daughter, cos the reality is there are some nasty cruel people out there and even though in a perfect world we wouldn’t have to be mindful of these factors, in this current world it is irresponsible not to be. And no, I am not pro-rape. And no, I am not a misogynist. And no, I do not believe in victim blaming, just in avoiding high-risk scenarios.

                    • Hi Thelma and/or Louise, welcome to the News with Nipples. The point that many of us are making here is that we spend all this time telling women what to do to avoid being attacked but we don’t tell men not to attack women. We sell women a lie when we say they can avoid being attacked, because they are more likely to be attacked by someone they know, and not the bad man lurking in the alley.

                      Also, when anyone says that someone was attacked because of what they were wearing, it is victim-blaming, because the suggestion is that if they didn’t wear it, they wouldn’t have been attacked. Therefore the suggestion is that it’s their fault.

                      Here are some of the myths about sexual assault (pdf from NSW Rape Crisis Centre):

                      Myth: Sexual assault is an uncontrolled act of lust.
                      Fact: Research shows that sexual assault is rarely spontaneous. Most offenders plan their attacks. See ‘Perpetrator Tactics’ for more information.

                      Myth: How women dress and behave causes sexual assault.
                      Fact: Research shows that sexual assault is not caused by the look or behaviour of the victim. See ‘Perpetrator Tactics’ for more information.

                      Myth: Sexual assault is committed in dark alleys by strangers.
                      Fact: In 70% of sexual assaults the offender is a family member, friend or someone the victim goes to work or school with. Of the remaining 30% of assaults the offender is usually someone the victim meets in a social situation or goes out on a date with. Most sexual assaults occur in the victim or perpetrators home, car or workplace. Sexual assault by a stranger accounts for less than 1% of sexual violence and the incidence of stranger attack in a dark place is even lower.

                      So, by all means, avoid what you think are “high risk situations”, but do it knowing that what will actually keep women safe is if we stop suggesting that women are attacked because of what they wear.

                  • De-lurking to tag:
                    Quote originally by Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville – http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/ 🙂

                    (I think Liss should get credit where credit’s due – she’s done so much for us)

  10. At the risk of being savaged here isn’t it just possible that you all want to have you cake and eat it as well?
    NO ONE is saying that women can’t wear what they want or that wearing “provocative” clothes is saying that they are “up for it ” with all comers the vast majority of men certainly get the “no means no ” message and I am with you 110% on that, but there is a TINY minority of men who think otherwise and as they are the ones who pose a threat to a scantily clad woman out alone in the wee small hours just how so we ensure their safety ? There is no law, or enforcement regime that will ever be 100% effective and in many cases it has to come people taking sensible precautions so that they can mange the risks that they face. What that Mountie was trying to do was to suggest that women do face risks and that they should do is act in a way that minimises the risk .Now He was clearly not PC in the way that he put his suggestions but rather than “victim blaming” he was saying the equivalent of “if you don’t want to be burgled makes sure that you have good locks on your house” No what you are all trying to say is that all we need to do to prevent burglary is to ensure that we all would be housebreakers are told in the most angry way possible that we have a right to leave our houses unlocked and that no matter how tempting that Ipod sitting on the table that you can see through the open door, that we are never to blame if you steal it. In one sense you are right stealing ( or Rape) is always wrong but that does not mean that everyone has a personal responsibility to ensure that they don’t make it too easy to become a victim of wrong doing. This does not lessen the evil or the culpability of the perps but you just can’t pretend that attacking the majority of men ( who will never ever assault a woman even when she is staggering around in a mini skirt sans knickers pissed out of her brain at 4.am ) who will think that her behaviour is unwise and increases her risks of having bad things happen to her (like choking on her on vomit should she pass out being or hit by a truck ) who might just say what you are doing is very poor risk management, Like it or not we don’t live in a world where we can make moral pronouncements about who is culpable for a crime and think that if we state that principle often enough then the actual crime will disappear forever.

    • Sigh. Here goes some more 101. Iain, you are perpetuating a rape myth. Repeat for emphasis: a MYTH. It is simply not true that being more scantily/provocatively/sexually/however-you-want-to-put-it dressed increases your likelihood of being targeted by a rapist. Most women who are dressed in this way are not raped (based on looking around you any given evening in the city). Most women who are raped are not dressed in this way (based on the verified fact that most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, and take place in her/his home or workplace or at the home of someone s/he knows). This means it is misleading and pointless to give advice like yours.

      In addition, the burgled/locked analogy is tired, offensive and, again, inaccurate (also, the fact that you even use that comparison makes me think you haven’t done any background reading on the topic yet, or you would have come across it before), because dressing conservatively doesn’t “lock your door”. A rapist can still see you are a woman in possession of a vagina. You aren’t more or less difficult to “burgle” based on how many layers you are wearing.

      All your advice does is give support to the pattern of people’s first response to hearing someone was raped is to ask what she was doing/wearing/drinking. Which is the way our society supports rapists. I suggest you read (or re-read) NWN’s previous post on this topic, including the comment threads.

      • Orlando

        Sigh. Here goes some more 101. Iain, you are perpetuating a rape myth. Repeat for emphasis: a MYTH. It is simply not true that being more scantily/provocatively/sexually/however-you-want-to-put-it dressed increases your likelihood of being targeted by a rapist.

        Please don’t be so patronising because I have done the reading and assimilated the arguments ( yes I’ve read stuff like Susan Brownmuller’s “Against our will”) and I tend to agree that the way a woman dresses is less important to her risk of being raped than the circumstances that she may put herself in (like being pissed and staggering around the dark city streets in the early hours of the morning)

        Most women who are dressed in this way are not raped (based on looking around you any given evening in the city). Most women who are raped are not dressed in this way (based on the verified fact that most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, and take place in her/his home or workplace or at the home of someone s/he knows). This means it is misleading and pointless to give advice like yours

        No you are making a fundamental mistake here by saying that because most rapes don’t occur to women who are “out on the town” in their glad rags then advising those who are “out on the town” to take care is pointless. well that is to take a general principle (that I do understand endorse and appreciate) and think that it negates the need to consider specific risks in a particular situation.

        In addition, the burgled/locked analogy is tired, offensive and, again, inaccurate (also, the fact that you even use that comparison makes me think you haven’t done any background reading on the topic yet, or you would have come across it before), because dressing conservatively doesn’t “lock your door”. A rapist can still see you are a woman in possession of a vagina. You aren’t more or less difficult to “burgle” based on how many layers you are wearing.

        🙄
        While I agree that no level of security bars on your windows or even steel shutters is going to make your home burglar proof, and that no amount clothing is going to make a woman immune to rape the point is that for the most part rapists are like buglers and it will be the easy targets that will suffer form these criminals. All criminals for all types of crime do a simple mental calculation considering do they have the opportunity, the ease of committing the crime and most importantly what are the negative consequences if they get caught, charged or prosecuted. What that Mountie was clearly saying (rather ineptly IMHO) is no woman should increase her risk by the way that she behaves in public places this is no reflection on, or diminishing of a criminal’s culpability for any crime that is committed is just a practical statement of fact, not so much on the clothing issue (even though that has been the subject of so much ire here and elsewhere) but there is no disputing the fact that someone the worse for wear from drinks or drugs is more likely to come to harm than someone who is a model of sobriety

        All your advice does is give support to the pattern of people’s first response to hearing someone was raped is to ask what she was doing/wearing/drinking. Which is the way our society supports rapists. I suggest you read (or re-read) NWN’s previous post on this topic, including the comment threads.

        Our society does not “support rapists” and you will find no one out there who is harder of people who commit this awful crime than yours truly, but you have to recognise that under our judicial system it is a damn hard crime to prove and that unless you are willing to throw out the presumption of innocence for everyone who is charged with the crime. that will not change, especially when it so often comes down to a she said /he said dichotomy (especially in the sort of circumstance that you allude to in your comment) its a very big ask to get more successful prosecutions fro this crime. Believe me I wish it were easier to punish the guilty and get justice for the victims but it just isn’t , well not without risking inadvertently punishing the innocent as well.

        • Actually Iain, I’m going to jump in here. Our society does support rapists. Not convicted rapists – although the chance of being convicted is incredibly low – but because of the culture we have that says a woman should do certain things to prevent rape, a legal system that asks whether a woman had been drinking before she was raped, advertising that uses “sexy” images of violence against women, and telling women over and over again that they should fear the stranger in the alley, when the vast majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the woman. This is the point Orlando was making about our society supporting rapists.

          You can find out more about rape culture here: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html

          • Kim

            Actually Iain, I’m going to jump in here. Our society does support rapists. Not convicted rapists

            As I have tried to point out the problem with the crime of rape is the necessity to prove the crime to the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” this is difficult when it comes to a rape accusation quite simply because there is seldom independent corroborating evidence especially when the bone of contention is the matter of consent. (as those who are accused often claim that the sex was entirely consensual), and without some independent evidence to support the accusation it comes down to the deciding who is telling the truth and who is lying. How do you propose that we test the dichotomy between he said she said cases?

            – although the chance of being convicted is incredibly low

            As it stands it is up to the prosecution to prove that a crime was actaully committed and that person who is accused did it. Unless they can prove the accusation it has to fail unless you want to move legal goals posts just for this crime. However if you do that there is a grave risk of miscarriages of justice because false and malicious accusations are not unknown either

            – but because of the culture we have that says a woman should do certain things to prevent rape, a legal system that asks whether a woman had been drinking before she was raped,

            🙄 such issues are all about how reliable someone is as a witness, if someone is drunk on a regular basis it is of course pertinent to how well they recall the events that they claim happened, You seem to be suggesting that a serious accusation like rape should be just accepted unquestioned. Like all people accused of a crime a man accused of rape deserves a fair hearing if the accusation is proven then throw away the key I say but it has to proven first.

            advertising that uses “sexy” images of violence against women,

            Like what?

            and telling women over and over again that they should fear the stranger in the alley, when the vast majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the woman.

            So how precisely do you think this problem can be addressed?

            This is the point Orlando was making about our society supporting rapists.
            You can find out more about rape culture here: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html

            Well sorry to disappoint you but I think that the point is rather woolly , our society does not “support” rapists it recognises that the crime is difficult to prove and that unless you can suggest a realistic way to more easily to prove the crime to a suitable legal standard (beyond reasonable doubt) you are attacking the wrong people here. Despite the feminist propaganda most men never even think of committing this sort of crime yet according to the rant you link to every male is eternally culpable for the acts of the small minority who do rape.

            • Iain, no one is saying that anyone accused of rape should be locked up without a trial. You know I am not saying that because we’ve had this argument before. Of course there needs to be no reasonable doubt.

              Now, you’re missing the point about rape culture. Rape culture tells women that they can prevent rape. Rape culture tells female victims that their character will be attacked if they decide to go to court. It’s not about saying that we’re all A-OK with rapists.

              • Kim
                I think that you are missing my point that unless you can get around the problem of proving this crime then all of the talk about “rape culture” is utterly pointless . The Rant that you linked to is just full of angry misandry that is unrelated to the real world where most men are good and respectful to the women in their lives.
                please excuse a small but related tangent here if you don’t mind 😉
                One thing that has changed in recent years is that promiscuity fro women is less frowned upon than it used to be, but it seems to me that many women are not blunt enough when it comes to negotiating with potential partners. Instead of spelling out what they are actaully up for far too many people (men and women) couch their desires in code and euphemisms which are often misunderstood by the other party. Things like inviting someone home “for coffee” at 3 am without spelling out that the invitation is just for a caffeinated beverage is bound to be the precursor to a problem. What I’m saying is that if a woman wants to have sex with a guy then she should bluntly say so and not expect that he will “just know” we men are actaully rather simple creatures who would much rather just be told if we are “in with a chance” than have to negotiate an endless coy dance with uncertainty and euphemisms.

                Rape culture tells women that they can prevent rape. Rape culture tells female victims that their character will be attacked if they decide to go to court.

                🙄
                I am saying that unless a woman has a way of independently verifying their accusation then there is no alternative but to question her veracity should the matter get to court . There is just no way that you can provide justice and fairness if you don’t test the accusation properly in a court of law. As you probably know I have previously; advocated that individual men should should use technology such as their fancy mobile phones to make a record of their partners consenting to casual sex to prevent their being any subsequent false accusations that the sex was not consensual (it does happen) maybe the other side of that same coin is that women out and about should do something similar and record their lives and interactions with men that they go out with (audio would be the most discrete) that way should things go horribly wrong they would have an independent record of events, that would make a subsequent prosecution much more certain. Other than that sort of thing I can’t see any way that a woman making an accusation of rape can avoid having to prove that they are of good and honest character when they make a most serious accusation that will forever blacken a man’s name and ruin his life even if it is not upheld by the courts.

                • Iain, you have spent your last several, lengthy comments discussing an issue (provability in court) that has nothing to do with the topic of the post. There are only two points to be made in relation to your original post:
                  1. The things you suggest that a woman can do in order to reduce the risk of a man raping her won’t work.
                  2. Focussing rape prevention strategies on what a woman does or doesn’t do makes it easier for rapists to keep raping, keep getting away with it, and keep justifying it to themselves, because it creates a default of asking why the victim couldn’t stop the rape from happening, if she’d really wanted to.

                  Everything else you have written is pure diversionary tactic to avoid addressing these facts. There are times when it is more becoming to simply suck it up and say “yes, I was wrong about that.”

                • Iain, I know that most men are good and respectful of women. But this issue has to be black and white because the approach our culture has taken for decades – that women can do things to prevent rape/assault – clearly is not working. When one in three women is assaulted by the time they are 18, we have a very serious problem, but a culture that says that women can prevent violence against them.

                  I am not going to address your comments about court because we’re not talking about that.

                  • Orlando
                    Your argument is illogical and ignores several salient facts.

                    Iain, you have spent your last several, lengthy comments discussing an issue (provability in court) that has nothing to do with the topic of the post. There are only two points to be made in relation to your original post:

                    The essence of the issue is rape is two fold, in the first instance how do we lessen the incidence if this crime or stop it altogether, making certain ethical principles like the nature of consent an important part of everyone’s social education is a big help in that respect (emphasising the NO means NO message ect) But the second aspect of the issue is the one of improving the delivery of justice in the sad event that anyone is raped. You seem to be doing a good job of suggesting that if we just do a good enough job with the former then we can forget about the latter. I think that in the real world we need to deal with the problem on both fronts, which Is why I have been looking at the problems of prosecuting those accused of rape.

                    1. The things you suggest that a woman can do in order to reduce the risk of a man raping her won’t work.

                    Hod od you define your terms here, because in reality nothing that we can do will prevent our homes from being violated by a housebreaker if he is determined enough, still we all have locks on our doors to try to make it a bit harder for a robbery to take place. You seem to be suggesting that because no preventative measures offer much by way of a certainty then none should be employed. that is just silly and naive.

                    2. Focussing rape prevention strategies on what a woman does or doesn’t do makes it easier for rapists to keep raping, keep getting away with it, and keep justifying it to themselves, because it creates a default of asking why the victim couldn’t stop the rape from happening, if she’d really wanted to.

                    As I said at the beginning of this comment this is not a simple issue but your simplistic argument above is just silly and suggests that you are not very well versed in the ways of the world when someone is the victim of a crime there are usually reasons that the prep chose them as I have suggested in my earlier comment you seem to be suggesting that no matter what a woman does , no matter what risk taking behaviour she partakes in , (over indulging in drink or drugs) then no suggestion that here behaviour was unwise should ever leave the lips of anyone who is tasked with trying to find justice for her. Its not the sort of either or proposition that you seem to think it is.

                    Everything else you have written is pure diversionary tactic to avoid addressing these facts.

                    In the real world this is not an a simple issue and all that I have been doing is trying to tease out some of the intricacies of the issue that you just don’t want to recognise.

                    There are times when it is more becoming to simply suck it up and say “yes, I was wrong about that.”

                    I think that it would be good if you could take your own advice here Orlando.

                    • It is not “silly and naive” to claim that it contributes to rape culture to offer useless advice on taking so-called preventative measures that will not prevent rape.
                      There is no correlation between what a woman wears and the likelihood of her being raped, so your burglary analogy is, again, inappropriate. Wearing sensible clothes is simply not analogous to locking your doors; wearing skimpy clothes is not analogous to leaving them unlocked. A burglar may well target an unlocked house in preference to a locked house. A rapist does not target his victim based on her clothing.
                      This is a myth that seems impossible to dispel in so many people’s belief systems, nomatter what the stats say. It has a “truthiness” to it (to use Colbert’s neologism) that resonates with people because of rape culture’s widespread acceptance. So each time someone bases their judgement of a rape on this myth, rapists everywhere think “see, it WASN’T my fault! People agree with me!”

                  • Kim

                    Iain, I know that most men are good and respectful of women. But this issue has to be black and white because the approach our culture has taken for decades – that women can do things to prevent rape/assault – clearly is not working.

                    But you can offer no viable alternatives to educating people about ways that the risk may be minimised now can you? That is the problem with just getting angry about this issue it achieves nothing but higher blood pressure and personal frustration.

                    When one in three women is assaulted by the time they are 18, we have a very serious problem, but a culture that says that women can prevent violence against them.

                    I dispute your citation but that is not as important as a suggestion that perhaps you need to tun those stats around and consider that two in three women will never be assaulted before they are eighteen and five out of six people will never be sexually assaulted during their life time…
                    Look none of us can absolutely be certain that we will never be a victim of crime but we can all do a little something to be prepared, be it some self defence training, developing sobriety as a lifestyle, the development of an honest style of negotiating sexual encounters (so that there are no misunderstandings ) or just being wise to the ways of the world.

                    I am not going to address your comments about court because we’re not talking about that.

                    Sorry but I took your suggestions that there are very poor conviction rates for Rape to be an invitation to explore the obvious question of what that is the case.

                    • Iain, enough. We are not talking about rape cases in court. When I write a post about that, we can talk about it. But this is not a post about conviction rates and that you continue to talk about it comes across as a deliberate attempt to derail the conversation. You know you are welcome here, but please stick to the topic.

        • Here it is, spelled out for you.

          Do you see anything familiar here:

          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.

        • “While I agree that no level of security bars on your windows or even steel shutters is going to make your home burglar proof, and that no amount clothing is going to make a woman immune to rape the point is that for the most part rapists are like buglers and it will be the easy targets that will suffer form these criminals.”

          So are you suggesting a bit of vaginal superglue?

          • Rhiannon Saxon

            After all, if you DON’T use vaginal superglue, when really, you COULD HAVE, then you were asking for it.

            • Oh no, you weren’t asking for it – you were simply not protecting yourself. If you had protected yourself, then you wouldn’t have been attacked. But apparently that’s not victim-blaming.

              • Rhiannon Saxon

                I’m glad you straightened that out for me! *wipes brow*

                *heads off to enrol in yet another self-defense class and buy a tube of vaginal superglue*

  11. Oh, I am so glad he was there to tell me what is an important issue and what is a stupid one.

  12. Commenters who think Slutwalk was misunderstood because people came out scantily clad – *most* people came out dressed as they normally would for such an activity, ie. jeans, polar fleece, coats! That was part of the POINT! That women get raped in all kinds of well-covering clothes, up to and including burquas! Then the media made it look like everyone was in fishnets and suspenders. That’s what the MSM does.

    If I went to one of those equipment hire places, do you think I could find a bigger tool than Schembri?! Gah. And the relegation of writing about Slutwalk to people like him, Bowen and Shepherd frustrates the living hell out of me; all the feminist bloggers who write so well (without having to have their spelling cleaned up by Pagemasters, either) hardly ever get a look in.

  13. Here’s a potential t-shirt from Twitter / @awrightbrian: Wearing racy clothes is no more an invitation for rape than entering a restaurant is an invitation to have food forcibly shoved up your ass.

    • I’d wear that t-shirt.

      • While we’re in analogy territory, I feel like I want to point out to people that rapists aren’t magpies (picking out the shiny objects), they are jackals, scavenging on whoever society fails to adequately protect. But I can’t think how to fit it on a t-shirt.

        • YetAnotherMatt

          This is the analogy that has unlocked a whole new area of thought for me. I wonder how many arguments from team rapist could be responded to with “I agree that if you don’t dress skimpily, and don’t get drunk, and don’t go near men, and don’t take any risks, any rapists that happen to be present might rape someone else. I will not accept that rape is okay provided it happens to someone else.”

  14. Some people are determined not to get it, ever.

    And at this point it’s fair to admit that those are not the people whom feminist activism is trying to reach.

    Movements don’t succeed by converting the people who are determined to perpetuate problems. Those people are a waste of time. Movements succeed by opening the eyes of everybody else, and making those stubborn assholes irrelevant.

    So it’s useless to argue. It’s a futility, and a distraction.

    • Yes. Terrible thing, discussion.

      • Not as terrible as the logical fallacy you just employed, but thanks for helping support my point. 🙂

        • Can you name and describe the logical fallacy? Because it sounds to me like you are providing an excuse for cloistering yourself away from the possibility of debate. Show me how I am wrong.

          As for “supporting your point”, I suppose you mean by this that I am one of those people feminist activism “is not trying to reach”. I guess this is true, as I am already engaged in feminist activism.

          • The false dilemma fallacy and straw man fallacy.
            The false dilemma is the imaginary dichotomy between either taking up every argument with every opponent, versus shunning all discussion. Those are not the only two options available. The straw man, of course, is your implication that I advocated shunning all discussion, when I never said that.
            And I’ll have to beg your apology for not knowing who you are or where you stand on feminism in general. I shouldn’t have implied that you are a staunch opponent of feminism, as I certainly don’t know anything of the sort about you.
            But I will say that, if you advocate discussion, then snarky sarcastic one-liners are a terrible way to promote it.

            • And, of course, “beg your apology” makes no sense at all. I must have switched from “beg your forgiveness” to “offer an apology” mid-phrase, which indicates that it’s too far past my bedtime for me to try engaging in any kind of literacy.

              I’ll just say that I think you mis-read my initial comment. I did not advocate shutting off discussion. I was expressing my belief that every movement faces opposition from certain individuals and groups who will never bend, who will never be convinced. It’s all too easy to find ourselves banging our heads against a wall, becoming embroiled in endless conflict without constructive progress. That’s what happens when we focus our energies on those who infuriate us most.

              I believe our energy is better spent where it will accomplish tangible goals, communicating our message to those who will be receptive of it. And by “receptive” I don’t mean already in agreement, and I don’t just mean neutral. I include those who may initially be opposed, but who will engage in intellectually honest discussion.

              This Schembri, for example, has demonstrated that he has no interest in discussion. He is looking to score points. That is not discussion. It’s gamesmanship. Now, if his ignorance provokes real discussion among others, that’s a lovely thing. But let’s not become sidetracked from positive activism by our frustration with immovable objects like him and his ilk.

  15. Not to mention I have no problem with any of the behaviors prescribed under the world slut. Wearing sexy clothes, being a sex worker, having multiple partners etc. none of these things are offensive. Its other’s attitudes that need changing, not the word.

  16. Jim Schembri has trashed his own brand, and now he appears to be trashing The Age with it, an extraordinary piece of self-immolation. Moving to a post-Schembri Age is a great opportunity for Fairfax to cut costs without losing market share.

  17. I just don’t get it. It is something so bizarre and lacking in any sort of real thinking that it beggars belief.

    If you say “women should be able to wear what they want” or “clothing choice does not actually cause rape”, you probably ought to stop there. But if you blunder along and say things like “But, women can reduce the risk they face if…” then you are contributing to rape culture.

    You are contradicting yourself.

    It is never acceptable to suggest that someone should change their behavior to avoid becoming a victim.

    Using “but” in an argument (explicitly stated or implied) is never a good sign. “I’m not saying you’re wrong but …” means “Yeah I am. That’s exactly what I’m saying”.

  18. News – if you need to borrow any strength to cope with this shit, you got mine.

  19. This notion that clothing choices will reduce our risk of being sexually assaulted is really wearing thin. If this is the case then why are so many burqa wearing women raped? Why have women been subjected to rape since the dawn of freaking time? That no matter how high or low the hem and neck lines have been in fashion that women are still get raped?

    *head explodes in a stabbity stabbity fucking rage*

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      Oh Pirra, it must be because they didn’t do a self-defense class. Or they got drunk. OR, perhaps they got raped because they enjoy sex so they were ‘asking for it’.

      • Ugh. The excuses… *head desk*

        Thanks for moving my comment Nips. (Although that last sentence? Rage makes Pirra’s grammar non-existent.)

  20. Saying “women can do things to prevent rape” is akin to saying “Black people can do things to prevent racism.”

  21. What’s wrong with telling children that they should do more to prevent child abuse?

  22. People of means shouldn’t have such nice things in their homes. It invites robbers to come and steal their stuff.

  23. You’re mistaking Schembri for a journalist. Easy mistake – I’ve done the same with Miranda Divine. See you in Sydney tomorrow.

  24. Pingback: Mother of all (Australasia-centric) SlutWalk roundups « Ideologically Impure

  25. I don’t think that it will ever be possible to meet on the issue of giving warnings or victim blaming. I agree with starfox on this. We advise motorcyclists to wear leathers because if they ever have the misfortune of an accident that will prevent hours of pain whilst gravel is debraded from their body…..and we think they are dickheads if they don’t take this advice and ride in shorts and singlets. Why is there a difference if a law enforcement officer can see from the events that happen at bars each weekend that clothing is relevant to the incidents that young women suffer. It would be remiss to sit on this information and not put it out there for young women to know and then make choices. It is not saying that clothing leads men to rape but it may be that clothing increases incidents of abuse…such as glassings.

    • Ah, but the difference is that you are not in a motorcycle accident because someone else decides to make you have an accident. If a woman is attacked, it’s because someone decided to attack her. That is the point that our society should be making over and over again. What we are saying is that we’ve spent decades telling women not to wear certain things in order to prevent being attacked, when we should be telling people not to attack women. Also, since most attacks are committed by former partners, friends, or relatives, what a woman wears has nothing to do with it.

      • The point I’m trying to make is that we are selling women a lie by telling them that if they don’t get drunk, don’t walk down dark streets alone, don’t wear revealing clothing, that they will protect themselves from being attacked. All of our rape prevention strategies are around women protecting themselves, and it’s not working. A woman is raped because a rapist decides to rape her. And that is why we need ads like this one in Scotland.

      • I have first hand experience of rape and know that the vast majority of time it occurs in the home with someone familiar. But that doesn’t stop me from taking precautions in public to avoid becoming the victim of a random psychopath. I’m certain that if that was to happen that the outcome would be far more severe. I just don’t think it is wise to give women the sense that they are going to be inviolate in public how ever much we want men to take responsibility and let us move freely.

        • Oh jayne, that is awful. I hope you are ok now.

          This is the problem with the precautions that we all take in order to feel safer. I do the same – don’t walk around at night with my headphones on, don’t walk down dark streets that I don’t know – but I don’t kid myself that it really makes me safe.

    • Thank you, Jayne.

      • Starfox, as we’ve been saying all along, do these things if it makes you feel safer, but it won’t actually make you safe. And as long as we focus our efforts on not walking down dark streets, we’re not teaching people to not attack women. That, simply, is our point, and one that you seem unwilling – or unable – to understand.

        • That’s progress of a kind, thanks. But of course, that’s not all you’ve been saying. You’ve said that telling women they can choose to protect themselves, and outlining ways of doing so, is victim blaming. You’ve made this point repeatedly, and it’s prima facie untrue. If, in light of our discussion, you have modified your original viewpoint then I’m glad to hear it! We are closer to agreeing than ever.

          To surmise, I happen to believe we can teach women about how to protect themselves (from all kinds of victimisation) without implicitly endorsing a culture of blame. We can teach men not to rape (we do, of course) AND teach women how to look out for themselves simultaneously. It makes sense, no?

          • No, we’ve been saying that as soon as you tell women that they should do certain things to protect themselves from being attacked, you get into victim-blaming because it means that if she didn’t do those things and she got attacked, then she is partly to blame.

            We have been saying all along that we need to stop focussing our anti-rape strategies on what women do and wear. Despite the fact that it doesn’t work and it’s a bunch of bullshit, we all have that message now. Let’s focus our anti-rape strategies on telling people not to attack women.

            By all means, avoid dark streets and short skirts if it makes you feel safer, but do with your eyes open, knowing that it doesn’t make you safer at all. That it won’t protect you from the person who is most likely to attack you, which is a friend, relative, work colleague or former partner. What will make you safer is if we drum it into people’s heads that they shouldn’t attack women. And I don’t understand why, in spite of all the evidence, you continue to peddle the idea that strangers are the biggest threat to women and so they should avoid dark streets and wearing short skirts.

            • I’ve never said strangers are the biggest threat to women. I also haven’t mentioned dark alleys. And I’ve explicitly said I don’t think style of dress is a precursor to rape. I assume you must, on some level, know this is not what I believe by now, so I don’t know why you continue depicting my argument in such cliched, unsophisticated terms.

              Nevertheless I will again surmise my main point, in good faith:

              What I have said, over and over, is that I believe that in addition to teaching men not to victimize women, we should be teaching women how to avoid being victimized. To not do so is to deny women information that they could choose to use (though they certainly don’t have to) to be safer, and there’s nothing feminist about that. Making this perfectly sensible point has become taboo in certain circles (as a reaction to the very real problem of victim blaming) but sometimes taboos are stupid and unhelpful, and should be torn down and shown for the reactionary nonsense that they are.

              In addition, I’ve said I don’t think people who draw a correlation between attire and acts of rape are misogynists or stupid (merely incorrect, so long as they don’t insinuate blame) and that women can (sometimes) stop rapes from happening, and to say they can’t is just, well, bizarre.

              Also, just for kicks, compare and contrast the following:

              ” You’ve said that telling women they can choose to protect themselves, and outlining ways of doing so, is victim blaming.”

              “No, we’ve been saying that as soon as you tell women that they should do certain things to protect themselves from being attacked, you get into victim-blaming because it means that if she didn’t do those things and she got attacked, then she is partly to blame.”

              Perhaps I am missing the distinction between these two very similar propositions. How did you intend for your response to contradict what I said?

              PS. Despite our disagreement, I want to thank you for continuing to discuss this with me. It’s cool to have a springboard to bounce my thoughts off of. I do think you’ve misrepresented me a few times, but you’ve remained civil throughout and I genuinely appreciate that you’ve been up for a continued discussion of this issue. Thanks. 🙂

              • I call bullshit on this whole comment.

                You said: “However, people who think a women’s mode of dress may increase her likelihood of falling victim to predatory behaviour are not party to this problem, and it’s frivolous and insulting to pretend they are.”

                How is this NOT part of the problem? The problem is that women are attacked and our culture first asks, “what were you wearing?” If the answer is “short skirt and a low-cut top”, then the response from our culture is “well, what did you expect?” THAT is victim-blaming. Victim-blaming says the victim was in some way responsible for the attack. And until you understand this very simple point, attitudes like yours will continue to be part of the problem.

                You said: “Women can do things to prevent rape.They shouldn’t have to, but they can. For example, they can carry a gun. Or take a self defense class. Or never leave the house. There’s a whole spectrum of things they can do. All of these things are a compromise, all of them are unfair, and some of them (at least one that I mentioned) is completely untenable. The point is, women can do things to prevent rape.”

                The things you have suggested are, in order, illegal, pointless, and stupid. If this is what you think we should offer women as ways to prevent being attacked, then I feel very sorry for you.

                You said: “But it’s societies job (especially as concerns educating young girls) to make sure that that choice is as informed as possible.”

                Yes, indeed. Which is why we should be telling everyone, very loudly, that they are more likely to be attacked by someone they know. Someone who planned it. And it has nothing to do with whether they are in a short skirt, or if they took a self-defence class.

                You said: “Therefore, in as much as there is a demonstrated correlation between style of dress and victimisation (and there is, though not between style of dress and rape) then women should be aware of it. Not because they should be dressing demurely as a matter of course, but because they are ENTITLED to all the facts that are potentially relevant to their protection.”

                There is no shortage of judging and slut-shaming being done by our society. As feminists, we don’t need to contribute to that because it’s nonsense.

                You said: “It’s about empowering women with information, so whatever choice they make will be an informed one.”

                Yes, information like the fact that women are more likely to be attacked by someone they know. That around 1 per cent of reported rapes are committed by a stranger. That our legal system and our cultural system will still ask “what were you wearing?”. And that as a culture we don’t teach people not to attack women. When you say that telling women they’ll be harassed if they wear certain outfits is informing women of their choices, you are actually taking choices away from them by withholding information.

                You said: ” I said people who make that argument aren’t misogynistic idiots or rape apologists. They’re just wrong.”

                Yes, they are wrong. And I never said they were misogynistic idiots or rape apologists, but continue with that error if it makes you feel better.

                I think that pretty much sums up all you’ve said here.

                • Rhiannon Saxon

                  I find it hard to believe that the suggestion that it is empowering to women to be informed of their choices linked with a suggestion that one choice is to shoot their attacker in the face is even remotely serious. For one thing, for the majority of Australia women who aren’t packin’ heat, it is as sensible a suggestion as saying that one can avoid rape by lobbing a nuclear missile at one’s attacker.
                  For another thing, I hardly think a manslaughter or murder charge, coupled with PTSD is a particularly ’empowering’ choice to make.
                  Yes, yes, if one happens to be superbly well-trained in martial arts, and manages to keep a totally cool head instead of, say, having a panic attack and freezing up, and if one manages to be physically bigger and stronger and better-armed than one’s attacker, one may avoid rape. But you know, that’s kind of drawing a long bow? It is hardly helpful, and again, implies that unless you do all these things, you were ‘asking for it’.
                  So what, we push all these ideas, and then if someone was jogging, say, and not wearing scanty clothes, and not drunk, etc etc…then the NEXT thing that victims get blamed with is – ‘But if you intended jogging, why weren’t you armed? Why weren’t you a black belt?”

                  • It’s also suggesting that a woman needs to fight to the death. If she doesn’t fight to the death, then it wasn’t rape. And it puts the responsibility back on to women – that you need to be able to fight an attacker who will most likely be bigger than you and armed, rather than putting our efforts into stopping the attacks in the first place.

                    • Rhiannon Saxon

                      Oh god the ‘if you aren’t bruised than it wasn’t rape. Didn’t resist? Not rape. You mean you weren’t prepared to give your life to protect your ‘virtue’? WELL…not rape.”

                      It burns, it BURNS!

                    • I think you’ve reached the classic, unspoken core here. We have centuries of culture telling women that if they have a shred of decency they should prefer death to dishonour (Lucrece being the model), and that is still the underlying operative assumption. It is treated as proof that you weren’t really raped if you’re not dead. I only wish I exaggerated here, but strings of judicial rulings and jury verdicts say otherwise.

  26. YetAnotherMatt

    Rapists are 100% responsible for rape, but if you show any skin, you are 5% responsible. That’s 105%. Do you know where that extra 5% goes? Every time you wear a skirt? God rapes a kitten.

  27. wow looking back on my comment can’t believe how I got taken in with feeding the troll. sorry for hijacking your article with my crankypants. Also went to slutwalk today, it was small, but dedicated and happy – none of the confused, flirty and other various adjectives leveled by those not involved – and the speakers were great. Had a blast.

  28. Pingback: Slutwalk Sydney 2011 « Seriously Whimsical

  29. Oh please, won’t somebody think of the kittens!

    The most worrying thing about Rhiannon’s earlier comment about fighting back is how in some US states they are in fact re-defining the definition of rape to mean “forcible”.

    What far too many people don’t realise is that this is where the sort of ideas being discussed here lead to. Women can avoid rape by how they dress/going out in groups/learning self-defence … then you say “well it isn’t **really** rape if they haven’t done anything to help themselves. That is at least part of the reason why we have to say “It stops now”

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      I read something about that, somewhere (Maybe on Pursuit of Harpyness?) – It is really disturbing – the implication is that if a person suffering rape decides (assuming they can even think clearly and make a decision) to be completely passive in the hope that they then won’t get beaten-up or worse – is somehow ‘consenting’, because they aren’t doing ‘all they can’ to avoid it. It’s still a rape FFS. Everyone responds to fear, trauma, anxiety, anger, panic, etc in completely different ways. Having some sort of legislation about what a REAL rape victim does/is/thinks is a massive step backwards. What next? No such thing as Rape-In-Marriage?

      • trigger warning

        raising the notion that people respond to trauma differently is a really good point. It reminds me of a blog post I read a while ago (can’t remember where), where a tripple black belt (meaning three white stripes) wrote of how she was raped. her point was, that despite all her training, when she was attacked, she simply froze. she couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, felt immobilised. Herein lies the problem. You can tell women that they should learn self-defence, carry capsicum spray, a gun, a rape whistle, whatever, doesn’t change the fact that rape, by its very definition is an attack, and you can’t control how people will respond to one.

        • Yes, excellent points. Not only do we not know how we’d react, but when you realise that most women are attacked by people they knew and may have trusted, to be confronted by an act that violates not only the personhood of the victim but also impacts on their relationship to their attacker and all the relationships in common with that. It’s an incredibly immobilising and terrifying ordeal.
          What you thought you knew, you didn’t. The rules have changed and they have changed suddenly and violently. How many women do you think have kept such attacks to themselves? Because of the greater implications and the victim/slut shaming that always ensues? How exactly does one take preventative measures against something like that?

  30. A friend linked me to the article earlier, then another friend linked me to your dissection of it. Very well put.

    The whole ‘but if you only wore more/didnt drink/did self defense/didnt go out at night/didnt fuck around’ concern trolling irritates the hell out of me. The only surefire way to avoid a potential rape situation is the potential rapist deciding not to rape.

  31. I am worried that if people who give out advice are stomped upon that advice will cease to be given so that women will never be in a position to avoid rape. Having been sexually assaulted on a number of occasions throughout my life and living with the expectation that it will happen to me again within the next ten years I really WOULD like to be given useful advice about how to prevent it. I would like to know how I can change the way I relate to men so that when I say no they hear no. When I push them away they understand that I am pushing them away. When I say I don’t want sex that the message is not only heard but that it is understood.

    As you have pointed out rape occurs with known people. My experience tells me that those known men can be good men, they work hard, do good deeds, even believe in and promote feminism. They could be any of the men you habitually socialise with. But something goes wrong with the communication and then rape occurs. I don’t even think that they were intentional in their actions, if asked before or after they would forcefully reject any notion of forcing sex upon an unwilling partner so I am skeptical that any change in statistics will occur unless women are given the tools which will enable them to keep men from attacking them.

    • Jayne, your experience is truly awful and makes me so sad. When I read this:

      “When I say I don’t want sex that the message is not only heard but that it is understood.”

      my response is that this is what we’ve been saying all along. That you are doing everything right by saying no, by pushing them away. The problem is with them, and so this is what we need to focus on – teaching people not to attack women.

  32. Jayne, the missing element is the education of boys and men not to consider themselves entitled to womens’ bodies, and the fostering of counter-“myths” to the rape myths which prevail now. You’re still putting the onus on women to fix the situation.

    The “She was wearing what?? – She was walking where?? – narrative, well meaning though it might seem to some people, sends men a message: “If she’s scantily dressed/passed out drunk / isolated / in a room alone with you / a sex worker / has had lots of sexual encounters before… you’re entitled to sex with her whether or not you know you have her consent.”

  33. Um, you are in my twitterverse but I just found your blog. I’m very happy I did. These are my thoughts exactly, but expressed far pithily than I could have. Schembri raises my hackles.

  34. Pingback: Links: pubes, ejaculation, sluts & good mothers « Pondering Postfeminism

  35. Pingback: 38th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

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