"getting attention is easy, being a feminist is hard"
July 26, 2011 7:19 PM   Subscribe

SlutWalk Toronto (featured on the Blue) has come and gone and spawned imitators. Already though, some feminists are questioning it's efficacy and impact on both men and women.
posted by mikoroshi (248 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somewhere in my antiquated, out of date, old fashioned, way of thinking, I do NOT want my daughter participating in a "slut walk", I think better of her than that.

The rest of you can be cool about this, I'll just be old fashioned.
posted by tomswift at 7:30 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Riling up Dad is probably seen as an incentive.
posted by ryanrs at 7:33 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Any fun way of getting across a serious message is alright in my book. Questioning the efficacy is reasonable, sure, but it should be had in mind that only a foolish person would hang it all on SlutWalk; doing the march and going home. Creating change involves multiple strategies. This is just one of them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:38 PM on July 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


So, how many t-shirts did Joe Francis have to give away for this to happen?
posted by FJT at 7:38 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


a Toronto police officer told a group of college women that if they hoped to escape sexual assault, they should avoid dressing like "sluts."

A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:39 PM on July 26, 2011


tomswift: "Somewhere in my antiquated, out of date, old fashioned, way of thinking, I do NOT want my daughter participating in a "slut walk", I think better of her than that.

The rest of you can be cool about this, I'll just be old fashioned
"

annnnd that's one of the reasons the walks need to be held.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:42 PM on July 26, 2011 [31 favorites]


uncanny hengeman: "a Toronto police officer told a group of college women that if they hoped to escape sexual assault, they should avoid dressing like "sluts."

A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault
"

Nope.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:42 PM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yes.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:43 PM on July 26, 2011


A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

Responsibility for rape rests with rapists. Not with victims. Period.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:43 PM on July 26, 2011 [141 favorites]


Sorry, didn't preview. Yes, it is still completely 110% not her fault.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:44 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Scantily clad marching seems weirdly blind to the race, class and body-image issues that usually (rightly) obsess young feminists and seems inhospitable to scads of women who, for various reasons, might not feel it logical or comfortable to express their revulsion at victim-blaming by donning bustiers. So while the mission of SlutWalks is crucial, the package is confusing and leaves young feminists open to the very kinds of attacks they are battling.

I disagree with her here. I feel like she's missing the point. It's not about dressing in revealing ways (there is no dress code for a SlutWalk), though some may certainly do that. And the fact that they do is reinforcing the message that it does not, and should not matter what we choose to wear - our bodies are ours, our will is ours, and our consent is ours to give.

The message she is sending is one that basically reinforces the notion that if a woman chooses to wear a bustier, to use her example, that men will inevitably be unable to control their behavior, when it just isn't the case. The desired outcome is that wearing a bustier isn't noticed or considered indicative of anything aside from fashion sense. And hiding away under conservative clothing doesn't address that issue.
posted by cmgonzalez at 7:45 PM on July 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Does that question really have to be addressed? Again? Uncanny Hendgeman, read some previous discussions of rape on Metafilter. I think you'll get the answers you're looking for.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:46 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

What an offensively stupid question.
posted by tantrumthecat at 7:50 PM on July 26, 2011 [93 favorites]


I keep equating Slutwalks with Zombiewalks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:50 PM on July 26, 2011


Thousands turn out for Melbourne SlutWalk


Hundreds turn out for Slutwalk Sydney

I support this movement.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:53 PM on July 26, 2011



Responsibility for rape rests with rapists. Not with victims. Period.


Is it because of the crime in question? If that question had been a drunken person, man or women, walking late at night in an unfamiliar or sketchy neighborhood, and he had just gotten mugged, rather than raped, I would at least somewhat question the decision to drunkenly walk in a bad neighborhood. Is the problem the fear that if we rationalize one terrible thing, all terrible things can get rationalized? Are we not grown up enough? Is the fear that if we scrutinize one case, all cases get scrutinized and doubted? Will we ever reach a point where one can be scrutinized, or are they off limits, for all time, forever and ever?
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 7:53 PM on July 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

If you ever wear that t-shirt I hate, I'm going to punch you in the face. You can't possibly expect me to control my urge to punch you in the face when you wear that t-shirt - that's just ridiculous. Wearing that t-shirt is an invitation to me to punch you in the face. If you don't want me to punch you in the face, just stop wearing that t-shirt. No, I won't tell you which t-shirt. It should be obvious.
posted by rtha at 7:54 PM on July 26, 2011 [105 favorites]


Sorry, didn't preview. Yes, it is still completely 110% not her fault.

I dunno... when I'm walking alone at night I keep my headphones off, try to stick to well-lit routes, etc. I'm not saying I deserve to be beat up, but I try to take steps to avoid it. OTOH, if somebody does beat me up, than it's his fault - not mine.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:54 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


A drunken man walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a nice watch on. If he gets robbed of his watch, this is still completely 110% NOT his fault?
posted by jfwlucy at 7:54 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not "already"; it's been questioned the whole time along. I linked it in the last thread, and I'll link it again here -

Twisty sez: By which I mean, you may say “patayto” and I, “patahto,” but in the end it might be more advantageous to dismantle the slut rather than claim it. “Everyone’s a slut” just doesn’t have the same oomph as “nobody’s a slut.”

I like the essay in the "impact" link, so thanks for sharing it. I hadn't seen it before.
posted by flex at 7:55 PM on July 26, 2011



A drunken man walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a nice watch on. If he gets robbed of his watch, this is still completely 110% NOT his fault?


This is not an equivalent comparison.
posted by cmgonzalez at 7:58 PM on July 26, 2011


If that question had been a drunken person, man or women, walking late at night in an unfamiliar or sketchy neighborhood, and he had just gotten mugged, rather than raped, I would at least somewhat question the decision to drunkenly walk in a bad neighborhood.

People get attacked for any reason and no reason. Sober men walking to work get mugged. Old women in their homes get raped. Therefore it's not really fair to point to this or that that one victim did as the cause, when it could have happened to them anyway.
posted by bleep at 7:58 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

There's four separate actions we're talking about here:

1) Public drunkenness

2) Walking through an unfamiliar part of town

3) Nudity

4) Sexual assault


The first three are within her control, and she's fully responsible for the first three. The last is not within her control and she is not to blame for it.
posted by FJT at 8:00 PM on July 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Man, the mugging argument is so tired. Charges are pressed against the mugger, as they would be the rapist. The victim did not compel anyone to rape or mug - it's not like muggers and rapists are forces of nature or something. They can choose to commit a crime or not, and if they choose to do so, then they've broken the law, and the responsibility is 100% theirs for making that choice. HTH.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:01 PM on July 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


CMgonzalez -- Yes, I agree, and I know that quite well, but if someone is even asking this question, a more sophisticated comparison isn't likely to convince them.
posted by jfwlucy at 8:02 PM on July 26, 2011


Somewhere in my antiquated, out of date, old fashioned, way of thinking, I do NOT want my daughter participating in a "slut walk", I think better of her than that.

Do you even understand what the point of Slutwalk is?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:03 PM on July 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is it because of the crime in question?

Robbery doesn't involve the violation of one's body nor the negation of sexual consent. The comparison is also flawed because the articles of clothing the woman chose to wear are a factor being questioned/put forth for consideration.

Maybe if the drunken man were in a swimsuit and were sexually assaulted would it be anything near approaching a valid comparison, and the answer would still be the same - no, not his fault.

The ability to give consent is not there due to the alcohol, which also impairs judgment. So while one can question the poor judgment of overconsumption of alcohol, that too, in no way, leads to either the man or the woman in this hyporhetica to be at fault for his or her sexual assault.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:03 PM on July 26, 2011



Robbery doesn't involve the violation of one's body nor the negation of sexual consent. The comparison is also flawed because the articles of clothing the woman chose to wear are a factor being questioned/put forth for consideration.


We look at mitigating and aggravating factors for murder, which I'd place at least close to rape?

I hate arguing about this, because it makes me feel like the frat college date rapist, and maybe that feeling should be a sign to me that I'm arguing on the wrong end, but here I am.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 8:05 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also think that one of the points that gets missed in discussions of Slutwalks is that, since dressing sluttily means that you are responsible for your rape, dressing conservatively should keep you from getting raped. Which is ridiculous. I've seen women walking in the clothes they wore when they were raped (or some approximation) as a sort of "fuck you" to the establishment that tries to equate dressing scandalously with availability to be sexually assaulted: pajamas, jeans, hijab, bathing suits, short skirts, tanktops, dresses, sweaters, t-shirts, etc. etc. It does a disservice to women to pretend that dressing modestly protects you from sexual assault.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:05 PM on July 26, 2011 [63 favorites]


A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

You've dropped your wallet. I spend your credit cards until they max out.

You drive a car. Let's say it's nice looking. I really like nice cars. I take it out for a drive, and then wrap it around a bollard. I can't help myself. You left your nice car out where I could see it.

You've left your front door open. I take that as an invitation to help myself to your fridge while you take a nap on the couch. I eat most of your food then throw the rest away. I then pee in your lettuce crisper and cornflakes, and take a steaming crap on your chest before I wake you up by punching you in the face before running away.

I don't like the look of your face. I have a thing about your kind of face. I really can't help myself. So I punch it. Repeatedly. Then I pour acid on it so I don't have to look at it and you'll remember I don't like your face.

I'm assuming by the logic implied in your comment that you're ok with any one of these things. You're asking for it, really.

The thing is, none of them are even close to the equivalent of rape. Well, maybe burning your face off with acid just because I don't like it is pretty close, but the rest are just objects that can easily be replaced.

There is no implied consent even if a woman is walking around naked. You're responsible for your own thoughts and actions. Everyone is.

The purpose of slutwalk is to point out that we're still teaching "don't get raped" as opposed to "don't rape", even though in reality the ongoing personal trauma and social cost of rape is much higher and arguably worse than murder. It leaves many people invisibly damaged and wounded to the extent that death might simply be kinder.

Should some people put more clothes on or have better taste or a sense of self preservation? Yeah, sure. Man or woman, there's people with questionable taste. If you don't like it, don't look.

Point being that rape is violence. Full stop. It's not sex - it's violence.

We don't shame people who are the victims of violent crimes. Why is it acceptable to do that to rape victims?
posted by loquacious at 8:06 PM on July 26, 2011 [91 favorites]


I also think that one of the points that gets missed in discussions of Slutwalks is that, since dressing sluttily means that you are responsible for your rape, dressing conservatively should keep you from getting raped. Which is ridiculous. I've seen women walking in the clothes they wore when they were raped (or some approximation) as a sort of "fuck you" to the establishment that tries to equate dressing scandalously with availability to be sexually assaulted: pajamas, jeans, hijab, bathing suits, short skirts, tanktops, dresses, sweaters, t-shirts, etc. etc. It does a disservice to women to pretend that dressing modestly protects you from sexual assault.

Yes, a thousand times, yes.
posted by tantrumthecat at 8:08 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The comparison is also flawed because the articles of clothing the woman chose to wear are a factor being questioned/put forth for consideration.

In example one, we're talking about a crime committed against a woman because of what she is wearing.

In example two, we're talking about a crime committed against a man because of what he is wearing.

How are the comparisons flawed, again?
posted by palomar at 8:09 PM on July 26, 2011


Rather, in example one YOU'RE talking about a crime committed against a woman because of what she is wearing. Most normal people understand that rape is not a crime committed because someone looks particularly sexy that day. For fuck's sake, man.
posted by palomar at 8:10 PM on July 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


What loquacious said.
posted by jfwlucy at 8:10 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this perennial argument about "responsibility" comes down to miscommunication. uncanny hengeman's hypothetical woman is completely free from blame or guilt, should anything happen to her; but that's not to say she is acting wisely or sensibly. The word "responsibility" is far too broad: the hypothetical woman is responsible in sense of having control over factors that lead to the crime's commission, but also, she is not responsible, in that she bears no culpability for the crime itself. Strong reactions to anything that seems like blaming victims are pretty understandable, given the history of society's response to women being sexually assaulted, but I think when people use "responsible" or similar language, they aren't always trying to shame the victim for their choices; more likely, they are trying to express their disapproval of unsafe behaviours.

That these behaviours - dressing skimpily in dubious surrounds, say - should not be considered unsafe is a moral proposition, and one I definitely agree with. People shouldn't assume that a certain choice of dress obviates a woman's autonomy. However, our culture - and lots of other ones - mostly operates under that assumption, and until people somehow change their minds about it, dressing skimpily will continue to be an unsafe behaviour. Which, yes, is a pretty unhappy situation. I know Slutwalk and similar programs are aimed at changing this attitude, and that's to be celebrated, but the change they are seeking to effect can't be considered a fait accompli - that's disingenuous, and maybe even a little dangerous.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:11 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, one of the more common, if not provocative outfits at slutwalk were the women who wore what they were wearing when they were raped.

Jeans. T-shirts and sweaters. Jackets. Not "headbands for a skirt" or revealing clothes. The vast majority of the Seattle Slutwalk wasn't wearing sexy clothes at all.
posted by loquacious at 8:11 PM on July 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


Those of you talking about the "walking at night" scenarios.

You are failing to distinguish between causal responsibility and moral responsibility. The persons walking at night are causally responsible for being there and being vulnerable, just as a skydiver is causally responsible for preparing his parachute and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. However, they are in no way morally responsible (nor legally responsible) for the crimes that are committed against them, just as a skydiver has not commit suicide if his chute does not open.

There are lots and lots of things that we are, at least partially, causally responsible for (in the sense that our actions led, at least partially, to an outcome, and in many of those cases we are not morally responsible. Other examples include taking a shower and falling down in the tub (which leads to a sever injury); boxing and hitting the other person (with a legal hit) hard enough to paralyze them; failing a student (who deserved to fail) which leads to the student committing suicide; leaving your door unlocked and being burgled.

etc.
posted by oddman at 8:11 PM on July 26, 2011 [29 favorites]


If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

This is obviously not a legitimate questions, and you are either trying to start shit, or just want people to agree with you.

But I'll entertain you:

Being sexually assaulted is NOT the victim's fault. Never. In fact, since sexual assault and rape are forms of violence, lets open this up and call it violence.

Having violence brought on you for walking drunklenly through a dark alley wearing gang colors is NOT the fault of the victim. It is 100% the fault of the person who acted violently towards the victim.

But then again, I wouldn't wear blue in a bloods neightborhood even though it is my right to wear whatever the hell I want.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:12 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone here know anyone who's opinions have shifted after hearing/seeing a Slutwalk?
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 8:12 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Word up, oddman.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:12 PM on July 26, 2011


fuck whose opinions + have become more aware of sexual assault after hearing/seeing a Slutwalk
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 8:12 PM on July 26, 2011


Does anyone here know anyone who's opinions have shifted after hearing/seeing a Slutwalk?

In all honestly, I think its a bit of preaching to the choir, and not really actually accomplishing anything.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:13 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hm. Being a woman = jumping out of an airplane?
posted by ChuraChura at 8:13 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


they are trying to express their disapproval of unsafe behaviours.

Perhaps they could save that disapproval for people who see someone walking unsteadily down a street, and instead of thinking, "I wonder if that person is OK or needs some help," thinks, "I'd hit that."
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:14 PM on July 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yes Chura Chura, that was totally my point.
posted by oddman at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


The thing is, saying that wearing revealing clothes while walking through a dodgy neighborhood at night when drunk means you are basically asking to get raped only works as an argument if a) EVERY woman who EVER walks through said neighborhood at said time while drunk and wearing some degree of revealing clothing is raped and b) NO women who EVER walked ANYWHERE ELSE during the day and while sober and while dressed conservatively is ever raped. Rape happens in all kinds of neighborhoods, at all times of day, and no matter how people are dressed.

If there was an exact precise empirical formula that a woman could employ to literally guarantee getting raped, and she went ahead an did so, then yeah, I'm sorry to say it but it would be her fault. As it happens, though, no such formula exists, because rape is a calculation that a rapist makes, not a rape victim.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2011 [21 favorites]


(For the record, that was totally, and obviously, not my point.)
posted by oddman at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2011


However, our culture - and lots of other ones - mostly operates under that assumption, and until people somehow change their minds about it, dressing skimpily will continue to be an unsafe behaviour.

True. Experienced johns know that even if a woman dresses provocatively walking through the red-light district of town, the most brazen thing they can do is to ask if she'd like a "ride" or "get a room" (translation: start negotiations for services). And if she refuses, excuse yourself and leave.
posted by FJT at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2011


Does anyone here know anyone who's opinions have shifted after hearing/seeing a Slutwalk?

I think a better question is, would not bringing great attention to the fact that how a woman dresses has no bearing on her "fault" for being raped allow the myths surrounding style of dress and the probability of rape to persist? Maybe trying to educate could fail to reach people, but not attempting at all will most assuredly fail to educate.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:18 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wonder how many female MeFites are left in this thread. Women have the right to wear what they want and walk where they want without getting assaulted. Men have the obligation to change their behaviour and their attitudes.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:19 PM on July 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


Does anyone here know anyone who's opinions have shifted after hearing/seeing a Slutwalk?

I dunno if anyone's opinions shifted after they saw their initial civil rights movement march. Who knows what impact anything anyone does on anyone?
posted by jfwlucy at 8:20 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a magnet which reads: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

Those who claim they're "not feminists, but":

Want equal pay for equal work.

Want access to birth control and and safe, legal abortion.

Want to be able to go wherever, whenever and dressed however they please without being blatantly treated as though they are nothing more than their vulvas.

ARE FEMINISTS

We are NOT all lesbians or man haters.


This was posted on Thus Spake Zuska a few days ago:




....I like men who deserve to be liked. Men who are worthy of my respect. Men who treat women with respect, as autonomous human beings. Men who are not groping gaping assholes. Men who can behave like professionals in the workplace and educational settings. Men who don't assume that because someone has tits and a pussy, she must be there to provide visual and other pleasures, not for any other reason. Men who understand that it is necessary to establish consent before engaging in any kind of sexual behavior. Men who understand women in the workplace are there to work. Men who will call out other men on bad behavior. Men who don't need their little egos stroked every five seconds. Men who aren't so terrified by women who challenge sexist behaviors that they feel a compulsion to vilify them. Men who don't abuse little kids, rape women, coerce their sexual partners, or bully, beat, or emotionally abuse women. Men who resist the urge to mansplain....
posted by brujita at 8:20 PM on July 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


Maybe trying to educate could fail to reach people, but not attempting at all will most assuredly fail to educate.

I think what is being discussed isn't educating the public vs. not educating the public about what is rape and whose fault it is...but its HOW we are educating the public.

I think the slutwalks are great...but this is NOT educating anybody...its just a gathering of people who hold the same view not doing anything to garner LEGITIMATE attention and change minds of people who need their minds and attitudes changed.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:21 PM on July 26, 2011


Feminist men are so hot.
posted by Andrhia at 8:22 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the slutwalks are great...but this is NOT educating anybody...its just a gathering of people who hold the same view not doing anything to garner LEGITIMATE attention and change minds of people who need their minds and attitudes changed.

How do you know they're not educating anybody? What makes you so certain? The point of SlutWalk is education. It sparks a discussion, gets ideas exchanged, makes people question their motivations. QED.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:23 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


How do you know they're not educating anybody?

Because of all the slutwalk pics I've seen...I see the same demographic participating.

Now that I answered your question, can you tell me HOW they are educating the people who NEED educating?
posted by hal_c_on at 8:26 PM on July 26, 2011


*demographics*
posted by hal_c_on at 8:26 PM on July 26, 2011


Seeing a photograph of a woman with "Proud Slut" painted on her face on the front page of the local daily certainly sparked some discussion (good and bad) among the seventh grade girls I know. It was excellent that they were even talking about what and why she was trying to communicate. That's enough for me.
posted by jfwlucy at 8:27 PM on July 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


Does anyone here know anyone who's opinions have shifted after hearing/seeing a Slutwalk?

If for some reason your present opinion is that rape is an okay thing in certain laboured contexts then it wouldn't be relevant how your opinions shifted because your opinions literally do not matter (not that opinions really matter anyway). A train of thought like "Raped, huh? Well..." means you have forfeited any and all perceived "rights" to "opinions" because your synapses are insufficiently complex to be able to accurately perceive certain realities regarding the way the world works. One would do just as well to consult frog entrails for information on the stock market as ask a rape equivocater for their advice on any subject.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:27 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Geez, it would be really nice just for once to have a post on a feminist issue actually allow discussion of the issue instead of derailing utterly into Feminism 101.

It is so incredibly discouraging to see the same simplistic sexist opinions suck up all the energy in a thread when we've done this so many times before.
posted by flex at 8:27 PM on July 26, 2011 [61 favorites]


They don't happen in a vacuum the women who participate talk about it to others, ask friends to come who may not be as politically oriented, post about it on facebook, people on websites discuss it, it gets shown on the news. The participants get to feel empowered which spurns them onto further action. It takes the issue out of the closet.

Why is none of that legitimate? Plenty of action/debate about social issues starts out with people who share views coming together to talk about them.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:27 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Now that I answered your question, can you tell me HOW they are educating the people who NEED educating?

I already answered this question. Here we are, because of SlutWalk, talking about these myriad of issues in a respectful and thoughtful manner. There are numerous ways, as I said upthread, that education can happen. This is one of many of them. Your issue with the "demographic participating" is beside the point.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:28 PM on July 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


tomswift: “Somewhere in my antiquated, out of date, old fashioned, way of thinking, I do NOT want my daughter participating in a "slut walk", I think better of her than that. The rest of you can be cool about this, I'll just be old fashioned.”

This attitude leads to some uncomfortable questions, I think. By saying "I think better of my daughter than that," you're tacitly implying that there are women of whom you don't think better, women who are sluts and may as well call themselves that because they're stuck with it and can't be better. I know you're not coming out and saying that, but given the theme of these walks, I think it's probably worth it to say out loud that that's not what you mean – if, indeed, that's not what you mean.

I mean, isn't the point the age-old attitude that "these women are good because they don't have sex, those women are sluts and aren't as good as my daughter" – ? Isn't that the problem being faced here?

That said, I can appreciate the notion that trying to "reclaim" the word "slut" might be a little misguided, and even hurtful to feminists who'd rather not. It seems like a term used to reduce someone to simple sexuality. I don't have a problem with being sex-positive, but "slut" seems to take it beyond that point to me to a kind of "sex-exclusive" realm. And embracing that reduction doesn't seem worthwhile to me in a certain way.

Still, I feel somewhat conflicted about it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:29 PM on July 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


Excellent question, uncanny henchman! I'm going to have to think about this a bit and try to find a comparable situation that fits my life. (I've never been raped and the last time I wore a headband for a skirt, Boy George and Marilyn were still BFFs.)

OK, got it.

A cyclist rides alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood while not wearing a helmet. If the cyclist gets hit by an aggressive driver and suffers head injuries that affect their cognition and general functioning for years, this is still completely 110% NOT their fault?

But you may say: some accidents are so severe that a helmet would offer no protection. Other accidents are so trivial that a helmet is irrelevant. I agree! I usually but don't always wear a helmet, and I don't nag people about it one way or another.

But some accidents -- maybe 0.001% of them, I dunno the exact percentage -- are those in which a bike helmet makes the difference between a mild or moderate injury and permanent brain damage.

So prudent people should consider that possibility, weigh it up with the possible outcome, and act accordingly. Anyone who organizes a ride of people who go helmetless should be mocked for being careless and innumerate. And don't get me started on World Naked Bike Ride, during which much more vulnerable bits are put at risk.
posted by maudlin at 8:29 PM on July 26, 2011


Geez, it would be really nice just for once to have a post on a feminist issue actually allow discussion of the issue instead of derailing utterly into Feminism 101.

Good point.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:30 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Fault" is a red herring vis a vis rape. "Fault" carries the connotation of "moral culpability," and if this is what you mean, then, yes, for fuck's sake, it's not the victim's "fault," at all.

That said (and I think this is the only reasonable point uncanny hengeman could possibly be alluding to, viewing his comment in the most charitable light), there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of being the victim of a crime. It drives me absolutely crazy when people I know listen to their iPods while walking home at night, for instance.

But it's silly to conflate the two ideas — to pretend that the responsibility one might have to mitigate her risk is in any way equivalent to to the moral duty one has not to rape, or to act as if the fact that a victim didn't take every possible precaution somehow takes away from the moral indignation one can have about rape.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:30 PM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sorry to stoke the flames on a comment that was pretty thoroughly piled upon already, BTW. To mix my metaphors.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:31 PM on July 26, 2011


Apology accepted, dixie.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:32 PM on July 26, 2011


Man, the level of ignorance in this thread is strong. Look, if you think you'd like to "explore" this issue, maybe the best start would be a bit of reading and research before jumping to well-worn territory. You know, territory like "Wait guys, has anyone considered whether women are asking for it by dressing certain ways?!"

Really, do you think this hasn't been discussed before? Really?
posted by odinsdream at 8:33 PM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Really, do you think this hasn't been discussed before? Really?

I really think is becoming a part of "Hey everybody...look what I said...I agree with you...we're all progressive mefites" kinda thing that is becoming rather irritating.

Discuss the issue, don't just fall back on opinions that every rational person should have. That doesn't form a discussion, only an agreement...which prevents any meaningful discussion from happening.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:36 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


What makes you so certain? The point of SlutWalk is education. It sparks a discussion, gets ideas exchanged, makes people question their motivations. QED.

What kind of people though? The local police? Politicians? The Catholic Church? I popped over to the Allies page of the Slutwalk Toronto. And it looks like an echo chamber. I mean, look, I don't expect the Westboro Baptist Church to be won over, but it would be nice to see some groups lend vocal support that aren't specifically dedicated to feminism, rape prevention, or have a little bit of a bolshy twinge.
posted by FJT at 8:37 PM on July 26, 2011


[metatalk exists, among other reasons, so that you don't call people morons or trolls here. Turning this into a referendum on one (or two) person's unpopular beliefs isn't really a great way to have a discussion in a community space.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:38 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

OK, this comment has garnered a lot of the responses already. But a lot of them share an assumption of the question that I think is worth questioning:

Does dressing like a "slut" actually increase your odds of getting raped?

I honestly don't know the answer to that. And I'm willing to bet that you don't either. Oh, sure, you have intuitive expectations about it, but intuition is often wrong, especially where crime is concerned. If it's true that rape is primarily about power, not sex, then there's no good reason to expect a correlation between dressing provocatively and being raped.

And if it's the case that there's no correlation, then there's no basis for saying "She should have known better than to dress like that". Again, I'm speculating here -- but so are the people who think that there is a basis for it.
posted by baf at 8:38 PM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Because people really expected something different from the comments on this post? They are so predictable, right down to "can't we not do this feminism 101 talk?"
posted by smackfu at 8:39 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am absolutely in favor of SlutWalk's mission -- i.e., to stop rape culture and victim-blaming, and the host of excuses people give to discredit accounts of sexual assault. I'm even okay with the idea of re-appropriating the world 'slut'. And I'm glad people are taking to the streets in anger.

However, it just makes me kind of sad that the only way this kind of activism gets any attention from a wider public and the media, is when there are scantily-clad women involved (and, over course, every article has to have its images of scantily-clad protesters, even though not all attendees were dressed scantily). Reminds me a little too much of Breast-cancer campaigns that try to be "sexy" by fetishizing breasts, or PETA campaigns of women giving fellatio to vegetables. I just feel like the message gets lost in the "yea, man, I...uh...support your cause! OMG Boobies! These chicks are awesome!" reactions.

The second critique linked here seems worth reading, especially in asking "why, exactly, does feminism have to be ‘sexy’ in order for it to be supported?".
posted by adso at 8:39 PM on July 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


The purpose of rallies is always as much for the participants as for the observers, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you need to see a sea of faces that share your point of view in order to gain the strength to stand up for what you believe in. Empowerment lies in these gatherings. Empowerment which can and will be used in the future by the participants. That is as important as the awareness Slutwalks brought to the masses.
posted by JLovebomb at 8:41 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


In Praise of SlutWalk
posted by homunculus at 8:44 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


What kind of people though? The local police? Politicians? The Catholic Church? I popped over to the Allies page of the Slutwalk Toronto. And it looks like an echo chamber.

This would make sense if SlutWalk was done in some sealed chamber where media was not allowed in, and no one was permitted to speak of it once leaving. Fact is, word spreads of SlutWalk to where even people who were nowhere near it are talking about the points raised, discussing it. Is every single person educated in the ensuing discussion? No. Is it the only way to get such a discussion started? No. But it is a way, and doing nothing will most certainly fail to educate anyone.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:47 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's strange to walk into this thread a few months after the first Slutwalk in Toronto, and compare the discussion here to the ones I had with friends and colleagues back then. Some of those friends and colleagues wrote up their thoughts and posted them here (which is technically a self-link, since I'm part of that organization, but I'll try to add more of substance here to make it less egregious). Much of it I agree with; some of it I still grapple with.

For example, though I witnessed first hand the police activity during the recent G20 summit, and know people with a great deal of experience about how Toronto police handles rape victims and suspects, I still don't know how I feel about the Toronto Slutwalk asking protesters to tone down their criticism of the police, claiming the Slutwalk wasn't an anti-police rally. On the one hand, I understand the compulsion to limit the scope of the protest to the ridiculous remarks that started the movement; it's tempting to say, it's only that one police officer, or that what that officer said isn't indicative of problems with how the Toronto police force handles rape cases. On the other hand, I know people who have legitimate gripes with how the police interact with the community, not just regarding rape but on other matters as well, and pretending those issues don't exist seems like a simplistic way to deal with them.

Around the time of the slutwalk, a lot of issues came up that left my friends confused and hesitant to fully endorse the protest: the protest's disavowal of the word feminist as troublesome, even as it attempts to argue that the word "slut" should not be troublesome; the lack of any mention of existing organizations and rallies like Take Back the Night that fight battles just like the ones Slutwalk fights; and a general perception that the protest ignored or set aside many of the complicated issues about how rape victims and rapists are treated, instead focusing on the simplistic "slut is not a bad word." In some ways, a lot of this stuff feels like inside baseball—grievances brought up by veteran activists wondering how an upstart protest got so big so fast, perhaps. But they are all legitimate concerns, I think, even if they're not as sexy as the main cause of reclaiming the word "slut."

One thing that definitely didn't come up in any of those discussions, though, was whether a drunk woman walking alone at night in a short skirt should be held culpable for her own sexual assault. The mere fact that people still ask that question is the reason why Slutwalk exists. And despite whatever problems Slutwalk may have had at its outset, so long as people continue to ask that question, movements like Slutwalk will—and should—continue to exist.
posted by chrominance at 9:04 PM on July 26, 2011 [31 favorites]


The original purpose of Slutwalk was to shame Toronto Police Services and their awful attitude towards victims of sexual assault. It was modestly effective at that, as TPS apologised, as did the constable who made the provocative remark, and it has caused some discussion about how they treat victims of sexual assault and the educational services they provide to women looking to prevent sexual assault from happening to them.

I walked past it when it was going on (and several women I know were in it and told me about their experiences there), and it was surrounded by a second-order crowd with a large proportion of men leering at them. I was pretty disgusted with a couple of amateur photographers who were blocking the sidewalk as they followed the protest snapping sexy photographs of girls in tight clothing.

I'm not sure what specifically other Slutwalks in other cities are hoping to accomplish. I think the focus of the original event on redressing a concrete incident redeemed it from the "pornification" charge, but without that kind of specific set of demands, I don't think the imitations are as worthwhile.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:04 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the NYTimes article:
I found myself again wishing that the young women doing the difficult work of reappropriation were more nuanced in how they made their grabs at authority, that they were better at anticipating and deflecting the resulting pile-on. But I also wondered if, perhaps, this worry makes me the Toronto cop who thought women should protect themselves by not dressing like sluts.

The trouble with Wilentz’s assessment and my own anxieties about self-preservation is that two decades after sitting through Hill’s excruciatingly careful narrative, there is still no way for women to tell stories of sexual injustice that allows them to bypass character assassination.

...The most sophisticated attempts elicit just as much derision and, frankly, receive a fraction of the attention. All of which suggests that while clumsy stabs at righting sexual-power imbalances may be frustrating, they remain necessary.

Social progress is imperfect, full of half-truths and sloppy misrepresentations. After all, we celebrate the victories of a civil rights movement that was shot through with misogyny, and of a women’s movement riddled with racial, class and sexual resentments. Fighting for power is a complicated, messy process, especially for complicated, messy human beings. Often, the best we can hope for is that our efforts draw a spotlight.
This it seems to me would also be a good response to some of the concerns and objections in the F Word article. Rather than criticising the Slutwalk organisers for rejecting the label of feminists and not doing things in a sufficiently feminist way, it seems it may be a better idea to say, "By doing what you do, you already are feminists. While we may disagree on our approaches, we pretty much want the same thing; and feminism has always had plenty of people who disagree (often quite strongly) with each other. Let's support each other on things we have in common, and approach this common goal we have from different directions, together."

If you can have that common ground established, it seems it would be easier then to discuss things like whether the word "slut" can be and should be reclaimed, and many of the other valid concerns brought up in the F Word article. From a place of respect for each other for working towards a common goal, recognising that "Fighting for power is a complicated, messy process, especially for complicated, messy human beings." And who knows, with that kind of approach, they may come around to seeing that feminism was never what it has been portrayed as, and that they were always feminists after all.
posted by catchingsignals at 9:09 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Because of all the slutwalk pics I've seen...I see the same demographic participating.

Now that I answered your question, can you tell me HOW they are educating the people who NEED educating?


The same demographic. Well. Consider that this sort of blithe labeling and pat assumptions might be part of the problem.
posted by desuetude at 9:10 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fact is, word spreads of SlutWalk to where even people who were nowhere near it are talking about the points raised, discussing it.

This isn't meant to target Slutwalk specifically, but I'm either too cynical and/or skeptical to believe in something without numbers or proof. I understand that doing something is better than nothing, and as Pseudoephedrine mentioned, it did at least cause the Toronto Police to issue an apology. But I think it's too early to give pats on the back, especially to the other Slutwalks.

Finally, I do hope you're right, but as adso mentioned PETA, I'm reminded it's just as easy to see this on TV, shake your head a bit in bemusement, and go back to eating your dinner.
posted by FJT at 9:10 PM on July 26, 2011



Those who claim they're "not feminists, but":

Want equal pay for equal work.

Want access to birth control and and safe, legal abortion.

Want to be able to go wherever, whenever and dressed however they please without being blatantly treated as though they are nothing more than their vulvas.

ARE FEMINISTS


By your definition. By my definition, a feminist is not someone who tells other people how they MUST label themselves.
posted by parrot_person at 9:25 PM on July 26, 2011


Most rape victims know their attackers.

The vast majority of people who are raped are not assaulted while walking home drunk through a bad neighborhood alone at night wearing provocative clothes, no matter how much that image is convenient for victim blaming.

And yes, as has been stated many times by now in the thread, even when that scenario is accurate, it does not excuse the criminal of the crime in any way.
posted by jsturgill at 9:30 PM on July 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


Sometimes it's just nice to show your hot self off. It's nice to have an excuse to do that with an explicit message being sent of "look, but don't touch" - no fear about anyone violating that rule means it's a lot easier to hold your head high and strut your stuff.
posted by egypturnash at 9:35 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's really frustrating to hear conversations like these. Not only are issues of fault poorly framed, they are inconsequential. Fault does not matter. If somehow a woman was 30% responsible for her rape, it would still be rape, it would still be wrong.

There is nothing wrong with considering and exploring what situations may make sexual assault more likely. It may very well be that being vulnerable, alone and dressed provocatively does increase risk. I honestly can't say, because any conversation degenerates into a shouting match too quickly.

Who cares about who is to blame, can't we just focus our effort on preventing the next assault?
posted by rcdc at 9:41 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm so sick of the "progressive" bullshit attitude that acts like if we don't have the most perfect, nuanced and thoughtful response that could possibly exist, we should do nothing. And instead of joining in with the people who are trying to do something they attack them saying how it's not nuanced enough.

Fer fuck's sake - at least people are trying to get people talking about it. And they're succeeding. Even if it's not the most perfectly thought out thing and maybe some people don't like the idea of reclaiming the word "slut" at least they're having conversations about it. People are being exposed to the idea that it's the man's responsibility not to rape, not the woman's to somehow dress in a way that would make her impervious to it.

Celebrate the people who are out there doing something and trying to make a change. Stop being so sure you would do a better job while you sit around doing nothing. Even more than that, stop sitting around doing nothing because you're petrified and don't know where to start and you're scared of making a mistake. Haters to the left.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:47 PM on July 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


stoneweaver: “I'm so sick of the "progressive" bullshit attitude that acts like if we don't have the most perfect, nuanced and thoughtful response that could possibly exist, we should do nothing. And instead of joining in with the people who are trying to do something they attack them saying how it's not nuanced enough.”

Well, we're all sick of something. Personally, I'm sick of the black-and-white if-you're-not-with-us-you're-with-the-terrorists attitude that sees any sort of constructive discussion about the impact of our movement as an "attack."

Do you really see these essays as attacking? Do you really think that all open discussion from various viewpoints should be banished in the name of the movement? I didn't see anybody saying "we should do nothing." Maybe you read something I didn't read.
posted by koeselitz at 9:51 PM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


"we're still teaching "don't get raped" as opposed to "don't rape".


Are not both of these things reasonable to teach? Isn't educating young women about the dangers explained in jsturgill's link one way to lessen the number of rapes in the world? Can't you do that while teaching men that rape is a crime of violence that is never defensible?
posted by jeffen at 9:57 PM on July 26, 2011


from jsturgill's link -- one of the risk factors/correlations is that women who have been previously assaulted are more likely to be assaulted. But for the life of me, I can't think of why.
posted by jb at 10:14 PM on July 26, 2011


I've been searching for the studies for the past ten minutes and I can't find them. At one point I found the right set of key words and happened on a study where they asked convicted sexual predators to identify different kinds of people walking down the street and asses whether they would be a target.

I'd prefer to find it before describing it but as per my memory: They found that women wearing more clothes, trying to cover up, and who showed other signs of being vulnerable (slouched posture etc) were more likely to be targeted. Damn I wish I could find it. Looking looking. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

What are the key words for these kind of studies, I know there were tons of studies done on how predators decide on targets when I searched whatever the words were. Arrgh.

What I mean to say, what if you're telling women to stop wearing slutty clothes to protect themselves from rape--- and you're making them more vulnerable because in fact the best target is a woman who is covering up and walking around scared of being raped? (I can't verify that's true, but I'm saying, no one has presented ANY proof that wearing slutty clothes actually increases risk of rape. )

People tend to talk about this drunk scantily clad woman in isolated streets. A drunk woman stumbling around in an isolated street who runs into a predator and no one is around will get raped. I can bet you money her clothing isn't what would cause that. Wearing "slutty" clothing in all other situations is in my experience more intimidating to men. They pressume you know about sex. They pressume you've been with men and while you might be easy to win over with drinks- that they can WIN YOU OVER. They are looking for sex, not rape, and they are excited you might be easy, but they think they have to play the game (be nice, smile, buy you stuff).

If you're all shabby and trying to cower into yourself in drab clothes that cover you up--- you look and probably smell, like prey.

jb-- Are you being sarcastic? Fear. Predators smell and see fear. They can see someone who has already been broken and know it will be more easy to induce a state of terror in which mobility and motion are impaired.
posted by xarnop at 10:17 PM on July 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


"she gets sexually assaulted"
No, some dude assaults her. It's his fault he assaulted her because he chose to assault her.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:34 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


xarnop - I'm not being sarcastic at all. I'm a woman who has had the good fortune to not have been raped. But I was thinking "how could anyone know?" because you just can't tell.

Also, I don't think it makes sense to talk about stranger-rape. As the link points out, the assaults in question were primarily committed by people that the victim knew.
posted by jb at 10:38 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


one of the risk factors/correlations is that women who have been previously assaulted are more likely to be assaulted. But for the life of me, I can't think of why.

Because if a woman is raped, the likelihood that she engages in risky behaviors (drinking to excess, dating abusive men, etc.) is higher, and thus the likelihood that she will be raped again is higher.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:44 PM on July 26, 2011


jb- The highest rates of PTSD happen to women who experience dissociation and feelings of immobility during sexual assault/rape. This is also a factor in increasing risk of future attacks. Hormonal changes to the HPA axis during this kind of trauma can change a persons presence/smell/posture and subtle functioning of biology. You read more from people than you realize. Predators read even more in the area of potential to achieve submission/fear/dissociation/terror/immobility. At least according to research that I've read (which unfortunately I can't find and maybe it's a mental block, I don't want to read that shit again.) Also as a woman you wouldn't notice women's fear responses when you get close to them. Women who have experienced sexual assault/rape are more likely to have a fear response to men getting close to them. It's not really so hard to read as you think. Men around me notice it just fine. Hence I don't go near them.

And yes, they are more likely to be targeting someone they can arrange a way to be close enough to be alone with.
posted by xarnop at 10:47 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


But I was thinking "how could anyone know?" because you just can't tell.

My guess is that it's a mix of a number of things.

One: trauma leaves you vulnerable to more assault because some people lose the ability to be assertive. This can show in body language, actions, attitude and language.

Two: most rape isn't stranger rape or random. It's often premeditated, if not situational. Someone who was plotting out sexual violence would naturally choose the least assertive targets knowing they would be the least likely to fight back or go to the authorities.


From my own experiences with trauma I'm pretty good at noticing other people who have issues with assertiveness from trauma. It really shows in body language and verbal communication sometimes. Lack of eye contact, defensive postures, keeping hands and arms tucked away, head down, startling unduly at loud noises, that kind of thing.
posted by loquacious at 10:48 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Typographicalerror-- yes I think some women decide they can prevent ever feeling like they did during previous assaults by deciding they will downplay it in their heads and just "not care" and also, always say yes because then there is no way for rape to happen!!! Or go on the offensive because it ruins the possibilty for the man to go on "the hunt" and try to expend energy in dominating and breaking you down. HA I beat you to it we're already having sex motherfucker! You can't best me, I win!

Wait...

This method is best carried out with alcohol.
posted by xarnop at 10:54 PM on July 26, 2011


Parrot_person, what IS your definition of a feminist? The point I'm trying to make by the slogan on my magnet and this list is that the word "feminist" should not be the pejorative it has become.

I'm not telling others how to label themselves, but having these ideals define a feminist to me.
posted by brujita at 10:54 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does anyone here know anyone who's opinions have shifted after hearing/seeing a Slutwalk?

Not just to reply only to this comment, but to anyone else doubting something like the Slutwalk has any impact at all:

I've become more informed by their arguments and discussions of the walk. I kinda knew that physical attractiveness doesn't correlate with sexual assault, but it was good to have a big event like Slutwalk to drill that into my mind on a more conscious level.

Now whenever someone brings up the "what was she wearing" line, I, in turn, can educate others with offhand comments like "women in burkhas get raped" and "women in nursing homes get raped". The alternative would mean feeling uncomfortable when someone starts blaming the rape victim, but being unable to articulate why. Basically, the more often discussions like these happen, the better I - and I'm sure others - become at identifying and confronting problems with others' attitudes.

Slutwalk might not be a revolutionary event that will sway all hearts and minds, but most gay rights movement events aren't either. It's all about the cumulative effect of many events focusing on many different micro issues related to the larger one.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 11:06 PM on July 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


Does a woman's manner of dress increase the risk her being raped? If it does, then it is legitimate for the police officer to say so (although I think he shouldn't have used the word "slut"), just as it would be legitimate for him to say that walking alone after dark increases the risk of being a victim. Making potential victims aware of risk factors does not in any way transfer responsibility or fault for the crime from the perpetrator, even if they ignore them, so it isn't necessarily "victim blaming", it's just good advice. By analogy, you can reduce your risk of being burgled by installing a burglar alarm. But even if you don't, it's still 100% the burglar's fault if you get burgled.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:08 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In example one, we're talking about a crime committed against a woman because of what she is wearing.

In example two, we're talking about a crime committed against a man because of what he is wearing.

How are the comparisons flawed, again?


Nobody projects anything remotely sexual onto a watch, whereas some people will use the false notion that rape has something to do with sex to blame a female victim based on clothes she is wearing. I really hope your question was a joke, because the two scenarios are just not remotely the same. Watches and short skirts do not conjure up the same viewpoints in people's heads.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:25 PM on July 26, 2011


By analogy, you can reduce your risk of being burgled by installing a burglar alarm. But even if you don't, it's still 100% the burglar's fault if you get burgled.

What if installing a burglar alarm did nothing to reduce the risk of getting burgled? Then telling people "Hey, get a burglar alarm to reduce your risk of getting burgled" isn't good advice, it's dangerous advice: it makes people think they're safer than they really are. If clothing choice doesn't affect your likelihood of being raped, then telling women "Hey, don't dress like sluts and you'll be less likely to be raped" is dangerous advice because it makes people think that dressing conservatively somehow makes you less likely to get raped.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:27 PM on July 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


Typographicalerror-- I want to add that I think you are extremely offbase in pressuming that the drinking/choices in men are what leads to the repeated assaults.

I'm pretty sure it's usually a case of the other way around when that occurs-- "Ok I keep getting assaulted I guess this is what happens. Shit, I may as well be drunk and just try not to care about anything any more."
posted by xarnop at 11:29 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, what the hell. Maybe this will make it clearer for someone.

If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

No.

It's 1100% not her fault. We each own our own body. Appearance, circumstance, clothing, sobriety, proximity, debt, marriage, previous experience, sex work - none of these grant someone the right to have sex with you. Clothing (or lack of it) does not confer sexual consent.

Because each of us has the absolute right to unilaterally decide whether we consent to any sexual behavior, the fault of rape always and forever belongs solely to the rapist.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:46 PM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Somewhere in my antiquated, out of date, old fashioned, way of thinking, I do NOT want my daughter participating in a "slut walk", I think better of her than that.

Patriarchs: dictating their daughters' sexuality since time immemorial.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:12 AM on July 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


To finish my thought -

That's why women always get so fucking pissed when it's on us to police our behavior. Who's the dangerous criminal here?
posted by Space Kitty at 12:24 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?


Absolutely not her fault. How a woman dresses or what alcohol she has drank has no bearing on her right to not be assaulted!

It does a disservice to women to pretend that dressing modestly protects you from sexual assault.

My being raped is a good example of this. I was wearing an ankle length khaki skirt, a loose, long aqua sweater, that showed no cleavage, black flat shoes, very little makeup. I was dressed in church clothes the night I was raped by two men.

Obviously, they didn't give a damn about what I was wearing.


What about the elderly women who were raped in their beds here? Was it their long flannel nightgowns that made their rapist unable to control himself?



As for the original Slutwalk intention it was due to a police officer saying that a woman's dress mattered. Police all over the world still believe that bullshit, and worse. The first questions I was asked about my rape:

Were you drinking?
Have you ever dated a black man? (my rapists were African American.)
Why were you wearing a skirt?
Were you a virgin?
Why were you out? (it was early evening, I was out with friends, after church.)

Not, are you ok? do you know who they were? or anything else but the above bullshit. It is put on the woman when it is never her fault that she was raped.
posted by SuzySmith at 1:16 AM on July 27, 2011 [40 favorites]


You know, I think there's another part of this - the population at large doesn't get fashion.

Showing skin and dressing in revealing clothes is something that I honestly, as a man, have a hard time seeing myself doing, and an even harder time empathizing with. So while I would not ever ever ever rape or do anything that isn't 200% consented to, I have a hard time wrapping my head around WHY a woman would dress in a miniskirt, high heels, and backless dresses, or whatever else. My clothes are super super practical, except for my t-shirt collection, which is essentially dirty ironic hipster symbology, which I wear to signal to all who would gaze upon it my disdain for all commercial and conventional. I'm not insensitive to what constitutes good fashion, and I'm aware that people use it to communicate messages about themselves. So here's me, using it to say: "I'm lazy, laid-back, don't like superfluous stuff, and have unconventional taste."

When I see a woman in skimpy clothes, I'm left asking myself what, exactly, she's trying to communicate with that outfit. I'm sorry, but showing me cleavage deeper than the cracks in my couch (or even using a push-up bra to achieve that on purpose) makes me wonder: what's the message? Is there a message? Why would anyone constrain themselves in uncomfortable, impractical "slutty" clothes if NOT to show off sexual suitability? That's the only reason I'd put on something that clings to my pecs and highlights my biceps.

I also have no problem with showing off sexual suitability, but I myself wouldn't do that except to signal sexual availability, so it's hard for me to empathize. Not impossible, just hard to do in the split second where I notice. Consciously, I know there are many other reasons why women do this, and I know sexuality is a huge part of everyone's identity, and I know most people don't give it such a complex analysis. Fashion, for most people, is "what looks good", and I'll be damned if that's not a viper's nest of ever-evolving norms and habits that I don't have time to get into here. But that's where I think SlutWalk is failing, I think. It's not communicating, in a broad sense, the WHY of women dressing "like sluts", and what appropriate responses from men might be. It's more an in-your-face demonstration of "we have the right to dress like sluts, and you best step the fuck off". I will, and I respect your right to dress like a slut without harassment, but I'm still scratching my head about why you're doing it. SlutWalk would be so much better if part of the message was, "we dress like sluts because..., and we have the right to do it, and you best step the fuck off."
posted by saysthis at 2:06 AM on July 27, 2011


It's not communicating, in a broad sense, the WHY of women dressing "like sluts",

"Slutwalk" was a response to a specific person - a police officer - talking about women dressing "like sluts" and how that made them culpable for being harassed and assaulted. There is no compulsion for slutwalkers to dress like sluts, for whatever value of "slut". Slutwalkers are exercising their right to dress how they wish. What you think constitutes dressing "like sluts" as about as relevant and meaningful in this context as what Michael Sanguinetti thinks.

...and what appropriate responses from men might be.

Don't sexually harass and assault them? That's pretty much it, I think. It's quite a simple message.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:24 AM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I dress as I wish because it´s my body and I´ll decorate it as I please. This in no way releases anyone from the obligation of NOT ASSAULTING ME.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:34 AM on July 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


1. Feminism 101 shouldn't need to be rehashed in every thread about rape. Educate yourselves - women and allies shouldn't have to waste time teaching you the basics just so we can all be on a level playing field in order to have a productive, engaging discussion about rape that doesn't derail into victim-blaming wargarble.

I really could have done without the mansplaining in this thread. It's sad how even "progressive", "liberal" men are so progressive and liberal until it rape is discussed, then they become uncritical rape apologists, falling right back into those sexist, antiquated mindsets. You may see it as an occasional chat about rape on an online forum where your ignorance (or outright trolling) is harmless, but for me, for millions of women, rape is real, we've lived through it. There is nothing you, as a straight man who is statistically more likely to commit rape than to ever be raped, can teach me or any other woman about rape. And women have to go through this discussion every day, on every forum, every time rape is mentioned. Don't you think we get tired of the tide of ignorance? I know that's the nature of the internet, but this is MeFi, we're supposed to be better than the 4chan. Mull it over the next time you feel like you just have to weigh in on this topic.

2. Rape is rape is rape. There are no mitigating circumstances, there are no excuses. Do not rape people. Do not rape women or men or children. If you cannot get it through your thick skull, you do not deserve to be out roaming free in society where you will either rape, encourage rape, allow rape to happen, enable rape, or contribute to a culture (rape culture!) where you will blame victims, silence victims, shame victims, hurt victims, violate victims, ruin the lives of victims.

The whole point is that it doesn't matter what a woman (or man, or child) wears, how she (or he) looks, dresses, acts, eats, drinks, walks, talks, sings, cooks, skips, whatever. It doesn't matter what a woman (or man, or child) wears, doesn't wear, wears badly, whatever. It doesn't matter how fashionable or frumpy, how covered or skimpy, if she (or he) has chicken pox, cancer, AIDS or flu. All people, everywhere - especially women and children since they're the most frequent victims of rape and sexual abuse - deserve to live out their entire lives without being forced into non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
posted by i feel possessed at 2:38 AM on July 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


tomswift: Somewhere in my antiquated, out of date, old fashioned, way of thinking, I do NOT want my daughter participating in a "slut walk", I think better of her than that.

The rest of you can be cool about this, I'll just be old fashioned
ShawnStruck: annnnd that's one of the reasons the walks need to be held.

I'll have to go ahead and ask what exactly do you mean. If you're going to rile people up for the sake of riling people up, that's just hostile and pointless. Whenever there's something that some people would feel bad about, walks need to be held to make sure that they feel bad about that thing?

I fully understand the original motive of these protests as an act of defiance against excuses that put women in danger, but what you said there I can't put my head around.
posted by Anything at 2:45 AM on July 27, 2011


f you're going to rile people up for the sake of riling people up, that's just hostile and pointless. Whenever there's something that some people would feel bad about, walks need to be held to make sure that they feel bad about that thing?

I've checked the website, but I don't think the stated aim of the slut walks is to make Tom Swift feel bad. Perhaps there is another possible interpretation?
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:51 AM on July 27, 2011


I've checked the website, but I don't think the stated aim of the slut walks is to make Tom Swift feel bad. Perhaps there is another possible interpretation?

Do note that I was responding to ShawnStruck's comment, not the SlutWalk website.
posted by Anything at 2:54 AM on July 27, 2011


I'll have to go ahead and ask what exactly do you mean.

ShawnStruck is saying that tom swift is being patriarchal and reinforcing the status quo that some women deserve to be called "sluts" and thereby also deserve to be raped. If any woman can be called a "slut" and dressing like a "slut" somehow magically increases her chances of being raped, then it is also possible, in tomswift's reasoning, to avoid rape by not dressing like a "slut". It's funny how people don't really follow their logic through. If this magical illogical reasoning is the status quo (which it is), then there is a need for SlutWalks, to raise awareness bring about solidarity among rape victims.

If you're going to rile people up for the sake of riling people up, that's just hostile and pointless.

So every oppressed group should just sit around complacently and keep quiet? BTW, rallies and marches aren't always for the benefit of those outside the group, they're often just as much about the morale and self-expression of the participants.

Whenever there's something that some people would feel bad about, walks need to be held to make sure that they feel bad about that thing?

You're saying that only some people should feel bad about rape not being taken seriously and that it's okay for police to say that "sluts" should dress differently if they don't want to be raped? Please clarify that statement.
posted by i feel possessed at 3:03 AM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


As long as a woman´s worth is based on her sexuality and fathers believe it´s their job to control their daughters sexual behavior consciousness still needs to be raised. Whether that pisses people off is their own issue. (Goddamn insomnia. I need to get some sleep.)
posted by Space Kitty at 3:07 AM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


i feel possessed, you're responding to something that you won't find in neither my nor tomswift's comments should you read them again.
posted by Anything at 3:10 AM on July 27, 2011


Anything: Do note that I was responding to ShawnStruck's comment, not the SlutWalk website.


Yup - and I think it would be very unlikely that ShawnStruck meant "As long as you'd feel bad about your daughter going on a slutwalk, Tom Swift, slutwalks need to exist, in the hope that your daughter will go on one and you will feel bad". You'd have to be working pretty hard on cutting through the deep brush to get to that, which would be odd given the broad, even and clearly signposted path leading in another direction.

Put another way: if Tom Swift wants to believe that going on a slutwalk would make his daughter a slut, and that he doesn't want to think about her that way, that's a matter between him and the inside of his head.

However, the expressed aim of the slutwalk is not to recruit women to the cause of unbridled sexual excess. It is to show solidarity with women whose rapes and sexual assaults have been minimized or blamed on them because of how they dressed, or how they behaved, and to make clear that "she is to blame because she dressed/talked/acted like a slut" is not an acceptable response, in particular from law enforcement but also from people in general. It's saying "actually, we are all sluts, if the definition of "slut" you are using is "woman who has been or might be raped".

There's a kind of circular logic at play here, which begins when people conclude that a victim of sexual assault really should have dressed more modestly, or not danced with that man, and so kind of has to be held accountable for having been assaulted. As you can see from Uncanny Hengeman, above, this is often expressed in percentage terms - because if it can be agreed that the assault is not completely 110% NOT her fault, then simple mathematics demonstrates that it is also not completely 110% the attacker's fault. So, the logic goes, people who invite assault (in the thinker's expert criminological analysis) are assaulted. Therefore, people who are assaulted must have invited it.

That circularity both relies on and promotes a clear if usually unstated distinction between "good girls", who do not dress sexy, act sexy or have non-approved sex and who do not get raped, and "sluts", who do. And, of course, it helpfully makes it less likely that someone will report their rape, because what's the point if all it does is get them called a slut?

Slutwalks aim to highlight the inutility of that logic. Shawnstruck, I imagine, was noting that this was a good and necessary aim, Tom Swift not wanting his daughter to go on one was both a symptom of a prevailing ideology and a sign that it existed, and that it was a good thing that it was being challenged.

I may be totally off beam, here, of course.

Now, it's possible that you are thinking "Yes, I understand all that, but why did he have to be rude about it?" In which case a) sorry for wasting your time, but you really should be clearer about these things and b) I think sometimes it's OK to say to people who are adopting certain positions that those positions are not good things. I mean, Tom Swift had just said that he didn't think well of anyone who had been on a slutwalk - including MetaFilter's own divabat, and possibly MetaFilter's own many others.

In fact, handily, there's a comment from MalibuStacy9999 in that very thread that addresses the thorny issue of slutwalks and your daughter:


My (scarily mature) 12 year old daughter just asked me about Slutwalk, and we had a long D & M (deep and meaningful conversation) about it, and the expectations of particular members of society, about how society views your clothing choices, about how you need to feel comfortable in what you wear, and all sorts of related stuff.


That seems to me to be a great piece of engaged parenting.

GTG. HTH!
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:04 AM on July 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


A man is a bad man. He does bad things lots of people don't approve of, think he's stupid to do, and this man goes to jail. In jail he is raped.

Most people know rape happens in jail. We mostly assume the good people who do things we approve of stay out of jail.

Would it be fair to say these men should avoid jail if they don't want to be raped? That if they are not good men, who we do not approve of, end up in jail despite having the abilities that all good men posess to avoid jail, that they are responsible for their own rape even as a victim?

They could have avoided the rape. These men aren't powerless. They knew the laws and accepted behaviors to avoid these situations. There are guards there to keep rape from happening.

Don't these raped men share the responsiblity of making themselves victims? Maybe they deserved it by being bad men?

- - -

See how problematic that thinking is? No one deserves rape. Yet those who say prisoners don't deserve to be raped for their illegal activities, still question a women's culpabilty during her perfectly legal ones.

It becomes a sexist stance of men questioning women's rape because they don't approve of the woman and think she is obligated to that opinion.
posted by FunkyHelix at 4:29 AM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Anything - oh, really?

tomswift: Somewhere in my antiquated, out of date, old fashioned, way of thinking, I do NOT want my daughter participating in a "slut walk", I think better of her than that.

The rest of you can be cool about this, I'll just be old fashioned.


Translation: "My daughter is not allowed to participate in a SlutWalk. Participation means that she is a slut. "Slut" is a bad word. It's okay to call women "sluts". Women who participate in SlutWalk are sluts. My daughter is not allowed to make up her own mind or have her own agency. Furthermore, I will pay no attention to the reasons behind the original SlutWalk and don't care that it encourages rape survivors to confront the patriarchal status quo sentiment that if women dress like sluts, they are encouraging men to rape them."

Is that, or is that not, what he's saying? You don't need a degree to understand it.

If you're going to rile people up for the sake of riling people up, that's just hostile and pointless.

Who is being riled up? How are rape survivors and allies being hostile? By marching? By demanding accountability? Isn't rape itself hostile? Why are victims of rape not allowed to demand justice and accountability? Why do they need to stop being "hostile" and "riling people up", if that is indeed what they're doing? Why is it pointless to raise awareness that rapists commit rape no matter what clothing the victim wears?

Whenever there's something that some people would feel bad about, walks need to be held to make sure that they feel bad about that thing?

Willfully obtuse. You know why they're holding these marches. It's not so that rape survivors can keep feeling bad about being raped. Stop being a douchebag.

I fully understand the original motive of these protests as an act of defiance against excuses that put women in danger, but what you said there I can't put my head around.

I don't think you fully understand anything.
posted by i feel possessed at 4:34 AM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh man, would someone please stop assigning Rebecca Traister to write these pieces? I'll give her a dollar if she writes one without using the proper noun I.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:43 AM on July 27, 2011


Would it be fair to say these men should avoid jail if they don't want to be raped?

Pretty sure I've seen that view expressed here numerous times in the past. Thankfully, mods don't tolerate it these days.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:44 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blaming anyone for being raped is like blaming a murder victim for being killed.

If it were the victim's fault no rapists or murderers ever would be convicted, because they wouldn't have broken any laws, because the law would of course hang responsibility on the victim.
posted by bwg at 4:55 AM on July 27, 2011


Peter McDermott: That's interesting - is it your understanding, then, that if one were to say "Men who burgle houses can't really claim they didn't ask to be assaulted by getting caught and going to jail" it would be moderated, but if I said "women who wear short skirts can't really claim they didn't ask to be assaulted by getting drunk and going to Mott Haven" it wouldn't be? That sounds like a moddity...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:05 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got to say, this thread surprises me. It's the first metafilter thread I've read that's a general "organizing against sexual assault" thread (I'm sorta-kinda new here) and yet we're discussing whether women should "take responsibility" for being raped if they were wearing the "wrong" clothes. Huh. That's not as sophisticated an approach as I'd grown accustomed to on other threads.

My takeaway would be that people who would rather discuss the small number of outlier cases of stranger-sexual-assault-on-inebriated-scantily-dressed-women-walking-home-alone - which? really not when most sexual assaults happen - need to look at why they want to reduce something real and lived and visceral to an abstract schematic which can be discussed as if it's a proposition in logic class.
posted by Frowner at 5:13 AM on July 27, 2011 [20 favorites]


Oh, you know - I remember one night years ago where I walked home at about 4am through a "bad" (my) neighborhood wearing a skirt and these really absurd extremely high mid-nineties fetish heels with a platform under the toe, and probably also fishnets. I was walking home because the buses had stopped running, and I was out really late because I'd fallen asleep at a friend's but had to get up for work the next morning. I couldn't have run twenty feet in those heels. They weren't comfortable to walk in and I really regretted not bringing other shoes for the walk home, but I was young and I hadn't thought it through and I hadn't expected to fall asleep.

Now let's just say that some terrible person had pulled me into their car and driven me away and raped me and dumped me - which would have been so terrifying and dangerous and painful that I don't know whether I would now be alive. Would you folks here really have the hubris to say that I was asking for it? To an actual person? Whose full story you knew?
posted by Frowner at 5:22 AM on July 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


That's not as sophisticated an approach as I'd grown accustomed to on other threads.

One of the side-effects of a non-threaded comment format is that early comments can set the tone for the conversation. If someone drops a bomb in the first couple of comments, the next few dozen will be responses to the bomb, the next few dozen will be responses to the responses and before you know it everyone's forgotten what the links were even about in any kind of detail.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:24 AM on July 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yeah, what ArmyofKittens just said. To get back to links, here's one to responses to Traister's NYT piece - and to Slutwalk in general - from writers at Feministing. Much more thoughtful stuff than a lot of what's been posted here.
posted by mediareport at 5:35 AM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, and Traister responds at the bottom, too.
posted by mediareport at 5:37 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many female MeFites are left in this thread. Women have the right to wear what they want and walk where they want without getting assaulted. Men have the obligation to change their behaviour and their attitudes.

And it's this attitude that, ironically, continues to place women at the mercy of men. Women will never be fully safe until men make these changes, thus we will never be fully safe.

Does anyone honestly believe that standing around, full of righteousness, provides any real incentive to change?
posted by gsh at 5:44 AM on July 27, 2011


running order squabble fest -- I couldn't begin to guess, and it's probably off-topic here anyway, but I suspect that the mods were just responding to the volume of flags of 'prison rape: haha, they deserve it anyway' type comments.

You might want to mail a mod or post on Metatalk for more clarification
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:45 AM on July 27, 2011


The Crunk Feminist Collective: SlutWalks v. Ho Strolls

Does SlutWalk Speak to Women of Color?

An interview with one of the organizers of last month's Marcha de las Putas in Mexico City.
posted by mediareport at 5:47 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Those 3 links also come from Feministing. Time spent going through results of a 'slutwalk' search there is probably going to be more fruitful than time spent in this thread.)
posted by mediareport at 5:48 AM on July 27, 2011


Coincidentally, I happened to be in Newcastle a few weeks ago when the Slutwalk was held in that city. I have to say, they were the least slutty sluts I've ever seen. Pretty well all of the women marching were dressed more far conservatively than the average woman on a night out in the Bigg Market.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:52 AM on July 27, 2011


It's awesome that you're interested in this apparent peculiarity, Peter. Let me quote myself, above.

"Slutwalk" was a response to a specific person - a police officer - talking about women dressing "like sluts" and how that made them culpable for being harassed and assaulted. There is no compulsion for slutwalkers to dress like sluts, for whatever value of "slut". Slutwalkers are exercising their right to dress how they wish.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:56 AM on July 27, 2011


What is your alternative, gsh? It's hard to tell what you are advocating here, since you don't say. I'm not even sure if you are for or against SlutWalk.

But we are all at the mercy of others. That is the price of living on a planet with other people on it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:58 AM on July 27, 2011


There are many possible interpretations of tomswift's brief comment, some of which I quite sympathize with.

One aspect of SlutWalk's method of promoting the cause is what for many people would be a redifinition of the word 'slut' from an epithet for 'woman whose self-worth rests on the ability to please men sexually' to a word for 'any woman who is not hiding her sexuality and in fact any woman at all since rapists and molesters aren't short of excuses'.

Entirely aside from the issue of promiscuity (imagined or not) being used as an excuse for rape is the IMHO fairly reasonable aversion to having one's child perceived as manipulable into sex among other things, or whatever it is that people connote with the word 'slut'. (I have to be clear here that I don't think the occasionally given definition for the slut epithet merely as 'promiscous woman' really matches the archetypical usage of the word with its additional connotations of weakness and lack of control.). Now, since it cannot be taken for granted that the SlutWalk campaign's message won't be misperceived, I can imagine why some would prefer their daughter not to take that risk on herself -- and contrary to the impressions of some here, some parents do indeed use other ways of expressing their preferences than forcibly imposing them on their children.

And entirely aside from that issue is that no one should call anyone a slut. Women with self-esteem issues should be supported, not shamed; women who can handle promiscuity should go for it if they so please and everyone else too should be left the hell alone.
posted by Anything at 6:07 AM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


anything: Entirely aside from the issue of promiscuity (imagined or not) being used as an excuse for rape is the IMHO fairly reasonable aversion to having one's child perceived as manipulable into sex among other things, or whatever it is that people connote with the word 'slut'.

Sure - I guess if you lived in fear of what some people you don't know might think of your daughter based on the connotations of a word (although you don't know what they actually connote with the word), based on a protest they have misunderstood, then you would indeed have a great reason to feel bad. I think that's quite a long way down the list of things one ought to live in fear of, though. I mean, I just checked and "the long-term effects of eating radioactive lamb post-Chernobyl" is higher up on my list of personal fears.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:15 AM on July 27, 2011


When I see a woman in skimpy clothes, I'm left asking myself what, exactly, she's trying to communicate with that outfit. I'm sorry, but showing me cleavage deeper than the cracks in my couch (or even using a push-up bra to achieve that on purpose) makes me wonder: what's the message? Is there a message? Why would anyone constrain themselves in uncomfortable, impractical "slutty" clothes if NOT to show off sexual suitability? That's the only reason I'd put on something that clings to my pecs and highlights my biceps.

Try this: She wants to look fashionable (for varying degrees of "fashionable"). It might be her idea of dressing up, or her idea of dressing down. She might idolize Nicki Minaj and want to emulate her style, because it makes her feel powerful. She might be showing off for other women. There are a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with how you might feel about it. In other words: it's not about you, and your reactions aren't that important.
posted by jokeefe at 6:39 AM on July 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


When I see a woman in skimpy clothes, I'm left asking myself what, exactly, she's trying to communicate with that outfit. I'm sorry, but showing me cleavage deeper than the cracks in my couch (or even using a push-up bra to achieve that on purpose) makes me wonder: what's the message? Is there a message? Why would anyone constrain themselves in uncomfortable, impractical "slutty" clothes if NOT to show off sexual suitability? That's the only reason I'd put on something that clings to my pecs and highlights my biceps.

And displaying sexual promiscuity has fuck all to do with rape, which has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with violence, power, and control. Even if someone was walking naked through the streets holding an "I HEART SEX" sign, this has fuck-all to do with whether or not they're sexually assaulted, or who's "to blame" for sexually assaulting them. (HINT: IT'S THE PERSON DOING THE ASSAULTING).
posted by odinsdream at 6:46 AM on July 27, 2011 [17 favorites]


I was once groped by a strange man on the street, in a nice residential neighborhood, in daylight, while I was carrying a laundry basket full of clothes, wearing a pair of old jeans, a loose t-shirt and a BABY STRAPPED TO MY CHEST. I do not think I could have looked less likely to want to have sex with a stranger than I did at that moment. And yet some man still apparently felt compelled to grab my ass and whistle as I walked by. I still don't know if he would have tried to do more if I hadn't immediately turned on him and screamed a series of curses at him with all the rage of a mother protecting her infant, thus attracting the attention of people in houses nearby.

I also once had a random man grab me, grope my breasts and and try to drag me off into a wooded area when I was walking to work over a jogging / bike path through a highly trafficked public park, wearing a polo shirt and khakis. (I elbowed him in the face. He ran off, mumbling about me being a dumb slut.)

I would like someone to explain to me how what I was wearing or what I was doing in either of those circumstances provoked a sexual attack.

Oh right. I forgot. I was walking around having a vagina.
posted by BlueJae at 7:06 AM on July 27, 2011 [32 favorites]


When I see a woman in skimpy clothes, I'm left asking myself what, exactly, she's trying to communicate with that outfit. I'm sorry, but showing me cleavage deeper than the cracks in my couch (or even using a push-up bra to achieve that on purpose)

Why are men allowed to walk around without any shirts on?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:13 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why are men allowed to walk around without any shirts on?

Tell me about it. Some guys around here work with their shirts off, which is really just inviting workplace harassment -- or they do household chores that way, right out in public -- half-naked! I see lots of the little strumpets all over campus in the dead of winter wearing shorts. Shorts, when it's 10 degrees out! Quite a few men these days also purposely wear pants that sag down so you can see most of their underwear, the teases.

Obviously, they're all advertising their desire for me, a dumpy frumpy 49 year old woman, to drag them into my car and bang their brains out.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:19 AM on July 27, 2011 [28 favorites]


As much as I hate dignifying insulting, restrictive questions with an answer, regarding going to a bad neighbourhood in a belt and not much else:

1) That's silly, most rapes are not of the dark alley kind. It might be suitably dramatic to imagine hoodlums lurking to rape silly but nice females who blunder into their territory but this neglects that-
a) The aforementioned nice female is more liable to be raped by the so called "nice" men of her acquaintance, including people she might want to sexually consent to under other circumstances. your example is inane because the dudes that are liable to rape me are my friends and colleagues, many of who I may even be contemplating sex with.
b) Women live in horrific neighbourhoods too. Which basically means that you're asking the poor and disadvantaged to wear modesty garments at all times that they're home. Don't be daft. That would be like insisting men who live in bad neighbourhoods wear bright colours so nobody can accuse them of lurking in dark alleys for prey.
c) Even in rape by someone you know in a nice neighbourhood, hell in your own home, your overall conduct may be used in the trial I'm protecting my right to wear a belt as a skirt so that if I get raped they won't bring it up in my court case "well, Mr. Rapist did shove his penis into her, however she is known to cavort around with her butt hanging out in other unrelated contexts, so obviously her desirability blinded him".

2) The culture that decided that skimpy clothing is equal to consent must die. Otherwise it's an arms race to cover more and more of my body and hide my character lest the potential rapist see say, sinful ankles or a cheerful smile as the right to jam his bits into mine. And we know that-
a) It doesn't work, so burkhas and male relatives are no safeguard and merely increase the context that may be considered sexual consent.
b) As indicated, modesty is arbitrary and also dependent on demeanour. You basically require women not to draw attention to themselves in any context, because sexual assault is one of the common avenues of response to an attention getting woman. Trust me, being a known female on the internet is enough to get anonymous "I want to rape you!" comments. Not here, but not because I'm not allowed to be ostentatious, but because Jessmyn, Matt, Cortex and their ilk would apply the boot the instant I sniffled in their direction but also because they've worked with the community to make the parameters abundantly clear.

3) Finally, being perceived as a "slut" does increase my chances of any sort of assault, but I AM a slut. I have had sex with both genders in multiple contexts, worn lingerie and see through clothing in semi-public places and one of my favourite memories involves with a in a . I am not asking for "it" because the difference between my consenting sexual activity and rape is as difference between shoe shopping and mugging.

In short, perceived sluttiness as an excuse is like telling an ethnic minority to knock off that "being different" business if they don't want their windows broken.

posted by Phalene at 7:36 AM on July 27, 2011 [27 favorites]


My experience-- all through high school i wore big shirts and cut my hair to look like a granny -- no I'm not kidding, it was so awfull... and wore dickies and old man's pants and tried to look as unfemenine as possible. I thought wearing make-up and dressing up was mean to the boys because then they will ache inside wanting to have sex, so don't be mean! (Channeling my 14 year old self here...)

I also was terrified of men and sexuality. And any time they came near me I felt like I shrunk and turned into nothing. I got groped up and variously innapropriately contacted all the time--- because often the trigger has more to do with being scared and vulnerable than it does with dress itself.

By the time I got out of highschool everything was so fucked I just didn't care. Went through a few years drinking really hard--- never had that awkward people groping me up thing when going out drinking. Plus you're numb and hopefully you can black as much of it out as possible. It's a different world.

"Obviously, they're all advertising their desire for me, a dumpy frumpy 49 year old woman, to drag them into my car and bang their brains out."
Because sometimes men (and women) have a hard time imagining how that could be scary (though female on male rape DOES happen and is horrible)--- for those that do, try imagining that if you walk around with a shirt off, ever ,it means you caused yourself to be anally raped BY A MAN. Men DO get raped too.

Would men be "playing a causal role"? If that ever happened to you, would you like for police to ask you questions about why you were on your lawn with your shirt off, teasing the poor neighbor guy who just couldn't stop himself from overpowering you? Would you like for your style of dress to be used in a trial to influence whether the guy got a conviction? Would you like for people to write off your entire experience just because of what you were wearing? Would you like for everyones opinion of you to shift and for everyone to secretly think, "Well he must have actually wanted it up the ass, after all it's never happened to me, he must have done something to make it happen."?
posted by xarnop at 7:36 AM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know, I once got in a car with a strange man. Didn't know him from adam. I was 26, he might have been 40 - older, anyway. Of course, my car had run off the highway in the snow, and I didn't have a cell phone and I really needed to get to a place where I could call a tow truck. Didn't have a lot of choices due to the highway, the foot of snow and the ice storm that was sending cars off the road all over and slamming police response.

As I biked to work today, I reflected on the many, many "dangerous" and "imprudent" things that women (and gender non-conforming people) do all the time because we don't have other choices. Sure, I would prefer not to get into a car with a strange man, indeed I would advise against it. But at the time I didn't feel like I had a lot of choices, and I was more afraid of a long twilit walk along a busy, icy highway than I was of a random stranger.

The moral of this story? There will always be times when women do things that are "culpable" in rape culture. You go to a party and your ride ditches you and you don't have cab fair and the buses aren't running? You've got a walk home in party clothes. You work a night shift and live in a shitty neighborhood because you can't afford anything better? You end up alone with a strange man because you're waiting at the bus stop at 4am because you need to catch the 6am Greyhound? (My weirdest "getting groped at a bus stop" experience!)

What's more, women are expected to do things that make them "culpable". As a butch queer woman, I can tell you that there are definite social sanctions for not wearing sparkly dresses and showing cleavage and for seeming "tough" or "unapproachable". So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't - you can wear a dress and heels and get called slutty, or you can wear a shirt and natty bowtie and have people yell "dyke" at you. Or you can drive yourself insane wondering if this dress is modest-yet-alluring enough, or you can dress in femme "drag", not meet any girls and spend all your time feeling weird, uncomfortable and fake.
posted by Frowner at 7:43 AM on July 27, 2011 [33 favorites]


As long as a woman´s worth is based on her sexuality and fathers believe it´s their job to control their daughters sexual behavior consciousness still needs to be raised.

I don't understand why the gender of the parent and the child in this equation. What if it was a mother? What if it was a father who didn't want his son acting like a manwhore? What if his son was straight or gay or bisexual?

My mom and dad both tell me not to walk the streets at night, too, and I try to listen to it as often as possible, and I'm male.

I'm a 1.5 generation immigrant to the US, and see mixes of both traditional and non-traditional parenting styles. Sometimes parents, act like parents, regardless of their child's gender, and I would say it's their business as long as it isn't abusive.
posted by FJT at 7:51 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


My apologies for ever reacting to uncanny hengeman. I forgot.

If I could highlight mediareport's links (1, 2) as the kind of thoughtful discussion this thread could have been.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:54 AM on July 27, 2011


I'm on the board of directors of a local politically-active, lefty, feminist women's organization and my group (at the urging of myself and a couple other members) has decided that we will not hold a slut walk. I admire the intent of Slut Walk and I think that it is engendering some really great discussion, but I'm not of the camp that finds it useful to reclaim the word slut. As a lesbian, too much of my identity has been forced to be about my sexuality, I don't want to be reduced even further. I don't find that reclaiming words in general is very useful, and I have problems with feminism/women's issues only getting attention when it can be illustrated with female nudity. Also, I'm fat. Women's events that involve showing off how hot and sexy and in control of our own sexuality we all are leaves me feeling excluded.

That said, the great thing about everyone having different experiences and perspectives is that it leads us to focus our efforts on different facets of the problem. We can't (nor should we) all be focusing on the same thing in the same way - diversity is strength after all. If another group wanted to hold a Slut Walk, I would respect and celebrate their right to do it, even as I would not participate myself. Meanwhile, I'll be fundraising to send our group's rep to Ottawa to speak to Parliament. We all do what we can.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:02 AM on July 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


The word that I want to walk to reclaim is "feminist".
posted by flex at 8:07 AM on July 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


Amen brother/sister/sibling of indeterminate gender.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:09 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


SlutWalk would be so much better if part of the message was, "we dress like sluts because..., and we have the right to do it, and you best step the fuck off."

You're conflating dressing in revealing clothes with "dressing like sluts". Problematic.

We're just wearing what we want to wear. I also wear things I find comfortable. I'm most comfortable, for example, in lower cut necklines. I wear things like makeup and jewelry because I like makeup and jewelry. I don't care what other people think about it. In fact, my own boyfriend hates my favorite lipstick with a passion. Guess what? I still wear it. Because I, personally, do these things for myself.

But we don't need to justify our reasons for wearing any particular clothing or anything else we choose to adorn ourselves with. Our motives are our own.

And adding a "we do this because...." clause to SlutWalk would undermine that message.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:11 AM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Geez, it would be really nice just for once to have a post on a feminist issue actually allow discussion of the issue instead of derailing utterly into Feminism 101.

Agreed. I think the key is probably ignoring the early contentious comment or two and actually focusing on the issue at hand instead of following the derail down the rabbit hole. If we respond, there's no way for the mods to effectively excise comments. And even if they aren't removed, there's no reason we should let them set the course for the thread.

We had a slut walk here, but I only briefly heard about it. I actually learned about it fully after the MeTa about it.

The first questions I was asked about my rape:

Were you drinking?
Have you ever dated a black man? (my rapists were African American.)
Why were you wearing a skirt?
Were you a virgin?
Why were you out? (it was early evening, I was out with friends, after church.)


Wow, that's bullshit. I really hope that the slutwalk and other events to raise awareness about this are effective at the very least with police officers and other authority types.
posted by ODiV at 8:11 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


One (or two) people said something stupid and ignorant in this thread. They've been corrected 100 times now. If we want this thread to be more nuanced and not "Feminism 101," everyone needs to move on from those initial comments.
posted by Falconetti at 8:32 AM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I see a woman in skimpy clothes, I'm left asking myself what, exactly, she's trying to communicate with that outfit. I'm sorry, but showing me cleavage deeper than the cracks in my couch (or even using a push-up bra to achieve that on purpose) makes me wonder: what's the message? Is there a message? Why would anyone constrain themselves in uncomfortable, impractical "slutty" clothes if NOT to show off sexual suitability? That's the only reason I'd put on something that clings to my pecs and highlights my biceps.

This is kind of a fundamental principle behind a lot of what gets tossed around in discussions of feminism, and it can be invisible to people who don't have to deal with it every day. So check it out.

There are a lot of reasons why a woman might dress that way which don't have anything to do with demonstrating sexual suitability: She might have a job which requires her to show a little cleave, and maybe she's on the way there. She might be on the way to see her paramour. Those are two which come jumping to mind right off the bat, and there are countless others. But the specific reasons don't matter.

What matters is that you assume that she has her reasons, believe that she has a right to have those reasons even if it's not clear to you what they are, and assume that those reasons don't involve your sexual desire until such time as she gives you an unambiguous indication that she wants to get it on with you.

She might not be trying to communicate anything. She might just think it looks good. Even if the only reason you'd do it is to demonstrate how you're ready to roll, respecting her agency as a human being means that you don't assume her motivations overlap with yours - even if you can't imagine any other scenario - and that even if they theoretically do, the message (if there is one) has nothing to do with your level of access to her body.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:36 AM on July 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


I really hope that the slutwalk and other events to raise awareness about this are effective at the very least with police officers and other authority types.

To be honest, that's only half the equation. The other half, well, does have something to do with the way women dress. That is, more women are needed to wear the blue. In my neck of the woods, only 20% of officers are female.
posted by FJT at 8:37 AM on July 27, 2011


You guys, seriously, it isn't what you wear that keeps you safe from being raped. It's praying to angels that does it.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:39 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


SlutWalk would be so much better if part of the message was, "we dress like sluts because..., and we have the right to do it, and you best step the fuck off."

The issue Slutwalk is addressing is that women are judged no matter what they wear or what they do, and should not expect to be able to walk safely anywhere.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:47 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agreed. I think the key is probably ignoring the early contentious comment or two and actually focusing on the issue at hand instead of following the derail down the rabbit hole.

That's a very good point. Maybe if there was some sort of statement to that effect attached to any FPP which touches on gender (or indeed sexuality or race, which tend to get roughly the same initial responses).

That said, maybe letting people wave their issues about on MetaFilter is providing a valuable safety valve. I'd hate to feel that policing derails more effectively would lead to some poor guy being dragged from his workplace by security, tiny fists drumming impotently on the floor, after melting down and shrieking some angry, sexual things at his female boss...
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:06 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if the only reason you'd do it is to demonstrate how you're ready to roll, respecting her agency as a human being means that you don't assume her motivations overlap with yours - even if you can't imagine any other scenario - and that even if they theoretically do, the message (if there is one) has nothing to do with your level of access to her body.

For the men:
Some men will foolishly walk around wearing nice business suits, sometimes tailored to their bodies. People can tell when a person has money by the suit they wear, and if you have money then you can expect to be violently robbed. Men who wear ties are especially good victims because the tie can act as a quick lariat to start choking the person.

Men, if you don't want to be a victim, don't signal your professionalism and wealth with a business suit, and especially not a tie. How can you possibly be upset to be a victim if you go out wearing a noose around your neck?

Also: taking your ipad out on the subway is just asking for it to be stolen and the police are very clear about not 'displaying electronic items'. If your ipad gets stolen because you had it out on the train, how is that anyone's fault but yours?
posted by fuq at 9:12 AM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I participated in the Slut Walk here. (And came to the sad realization that all my good slutgear is really meant for colder weather.) The event had great word-of-mouth, good turnout despite the 100-degree temps, solid media coverage, attracted a decent cross-section of the progressive community, and drew attention to an important issue. We got a neat opportunity to do some unanticipated consciousness raising about victim blaming when our protest crossed paths with a Vietnamese protest against Chinese tariffs.
posted by *s at 9:12 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a really easy way to explain this to people who just don't get it.

Have you ever seen a woman in skimpy clothing?

Did you rape her?

See how it's not inevitable?
posted by desjardins at 9:18 AM on July 27, 2011 [20 favorites]


I've never favorited so many comments in a MeFi thread.

As a relatively new MeFite, I'm also heartened, given the subject matter, to see certain comments not being favorited at all. Sometimes forums can give you hope that not everyone is blindly accepting the patriarchal society in which we live.
posted by JLovebomb at 9:36 AM on July 27, 2011


I want to add that I think you are extremely offbase in pressuming that the drinking/choices in men are what leads to the repeated assaults.

I'm pretty sure it's usually a case of the other way around when that occurs-- "Ok I keep getting assaulted I guess this is what happens. Shit, I may as well be drunk and just try not to care about anything any more."


That is emphatically not what I said.

People who are victims of crimes are more likely to have engaged in risky behaviors (perhaps I should not have presupposed what risky behaviors are, but it seems to me that heavy drinking and dating abusive men are safely within that arena) simply by mathematical fact. If you are wet, it is more likely that you have been in a rainstorm than someone who is not wet. Unless you don't believe that there are any risky behaviors for women to engage in, what I said is logically sound, and it doesn't require a preternatural rapist-sense that other posters suggested.

I apologize if my example of risky behaviors confused you, as they were independent of the actual argument.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:40 AM on July 27, 2011


Well if your example is not based in fact, it sort of skews your whole argument which appeared to be that some women are putting themselves in dangerous situations. That happens, as does the fact that through simply existing and having past trauma, you will be more likely to be targeted. That is not an example of woman engaging in risky behavior, but simply existing and having been affected by past experiences.

You presented an accusation and if you want to make that accusation, I'd like to see your research. Certainly drinking is a HUGE risk factor for assault and that is demonstrated by research. There are however many risk factors and if you'd like to present the case that "things women do are the largest cause of rape" I'd like to see you prove that women's BEHAVIORS are a LARGER factor than previous assault history, PTSD status, mental health status, socio-economic situation etc.
posted by xarnop at 9:56 AM on July 27, 2011


Men, women, and children get raped and it's never their fault because of what they are wearing. This is like talking about paper cuts as a leading cause of gangrene.

Anyway, I just took my dog for a walk at twilight and wasn't raped or harrassed (this time), but I did see a guy in shorts and no shirt riding a bike, and I wondered how many people would think he's a slut. I wondered if he did get raped, if the police would raise an eyebrow and say "and that's what you were wearing?" Of course not. If he's straight and not ethnic, chances are great that he pretty much has full rights that nobody questions and that he doesn't need to think about very much.

Personally, though, I'm among those that have no wish at all to "reclaim" the word "slut," since I've never claimed it or used it anyway, but I think the Slutwalk is fine and support it totally, though I wouldn't be a participant myself. Back in the day, women burning bras as a protest were also deemed to be wrongheaded and not serious enough, and not conveying the proper message – but there's no single message, and there are as many ways of speaking out as there are people to speak up. It's all good. It's much better than fear and silence.
posted by taz at 10:41 AM on July 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


People who are victims of crimes are more likely to have engaged in risky behaviors (perhaps I should not have presupposed what risky behaviors are, but it seems to me that heavy drinking and dating abusive men are safely within that arena) simply by mathematical fact.

You're missing the point, mentioned numerous times in this and every other sexual assault thread ever, that most rapes are committed by people the victim already knows. Simply being a woman who knows and interacts with other human beings is not risky behavior.

And regardless of risky behavior, the onus is not on the woman to behave in a way that lets her "not get raped"; it's on the rapists, who should, you know, try to not rape people.
posted by elizardbits at 10:42 AM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


There are however many risk factors and if you'd like to present the case that "things women do are the largest cause of rape" I'd like to see you prove that women's BEHAVIORS are a LARGER factor than previous assault history, PTSD status, mental health status, socio-economic situation etc.

You're rebutting an argument I'm not making. The original question was why women who have been raped are more likely to be raped again, and I identified a reason why likelihood should increase. Not the reason or even the most important reason. And my argument is easily modifiable to say women who have been raped are more likely to have more risk factors for rape, which makes it more likely that they'll be raped again.

I have no idea what you could possibly read in to my comment that is an accusation. I do not understand your agitation.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:46 AM on July 27, 2011


Typographicalerror-- I would pressume you have never been raped after drinking then.
posted by xarnop at 11:00 AM on July 27, 2011


Apologese, it's not polite to pressume.
posted by xarnop at 11:03 AM on July 27, 2011


A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault?

You appear to be confused about the word "fault". There's no doubt the victim's actions you have described cause her to be at a greater risk of being raped. However, it is her human right to make those personal decisions, and she is not "at fault" for doing so. The fault is with the rapist.

Even if you personally disapprove of skimpy clothing, it's easy to think of things you approve of that result in a greater risk to the person doing them. Presumably you approve of Gandhi. Gandhi's actions put him at greater risk of assassination. It was not, however, Gandhi's "fault" that he was assassinated.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:23 AM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Typgraphicalerror-- I think the agitation stems from the fact that as a male you made a comment that could easily be percieved as hurtful to someone who was raped after drinking. You may have experienced this and the casual way you offered your statement may be a reflection that you are using your experience to pressume it wouldn't be percieved as hurtful to others.

It would seem however, that your comment was simply made as an offhand, "Oh well it happens because women drink more and choose abusive men after being raped."

I doubt that you had any research behind that statement and you were throwing a random idea into the conversation as a possibility without realizing that that is a statement often made to women to insinuate their culpability in their own assaults.

I understand that you didn't intend it to be hurtful, and it's totally ok and I expect and in fact encourage people to share their offhand ideas in a conversation like this.

I hope you can respect that in response I wanted to share that your casual idea is one that is often used against women to insinuate fault (though not necessarily by you), and that it is certainly not substantieted by any research that you or anyone else here has offered.

: ) It's all good.
posted by xarnop at 11:46 AM on July 27, 2011


I'm a bit late to this, but I gots a thing to say anyway!

I realize this is not a universal interpretation, but I choose to see Slutwalk less as reappropriating or owning the term, and more as refusing the attempt to other some women as 'sluts,' and as less deserving of protection and sympathy. If there were a Slutwalk near me, I'd walk in it, not because I'm a slut, but because to declare solidarity with any woman who has been labeled as such, and to let law enforcement know that when you deny her services or blame her for being a victim of a violent crime, you're hurting everyone.

Not everyone sees it that way, but I have an old Stella Marrs postcard on my refrigerator that says "Redefine Feminism so it includes you," and I've decided to take her advice.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:07 PM on July 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Beyond the victim-blaiming issue of treating clothing as a causative factor, it doesn't really match what we know about rapists who are not necessarily attracted to their victims, and often are manipulative con-men who select on the basis of social norms they can leverage to make their victims vulnerable. Since many rapists are adept at manipulating such positive values as friendship and politeness into vulnerability and rationalization, I'm not certain how much short of life in a closet can be effective at preventing rape.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:31 PM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


And my argument is easily modifiable to say women who have been raped are more likely to have more risk factors for rape, which makes it more likely that they'll be raped again.

Uh, would you like to back this up with some kind of scientific proof or a study, perhaps? Because this veers into dangerous and frankly, offensive, territory. What are "risk factors for rape", exactly? And why would you put them on the woman who is NOT the rapist?
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:24 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know what is meant by "risk factors for rape." Women of color are raped more often than white women. Not sure what they are supposed to do about that.
posted by desjardins at 2:26 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Uh, would you like to back this up with some kind of scientific proof or a study, perhaps?

It's practically a tautology to say that on average people who have had X happen to them in the past are more likely to have X happen to them in the future, for virtually any X. TypographicalError is pointing out that the statistical correlation between being raped once and being raped in the future doesn't require some "smelling fear" post-hoc explanation.

Replace the loaded term "risk factor" with "statistically correlated factor", and this shouldn't be controversial at all.
posted by Pyry at 3:13 PM on July 27, 2011


It's practically a tautology to say that on average people who have had X happen to them in the past are more likely to have X happen to them in the future, for virtually any X.

I'm sorry, I have a hard time understanding how this works. Is it some sort of scientific law that if X happens to you once, you are more likely to have X happen to you again than someone who has never had X happen to them?

And assuming this were true, what possible bearing does this have on style of dress? I'm hearing a lot of talk about "risk factors" and yet it's been shown, time and time again, that all kinds of women get raped by all kinds of attackers for all kinds of reasons, with clothing have such little bearing on the equation as to be negligible.

So yeah, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for evidence.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:24 PM on July 27, 2011


Because if a woman is raped, the likelihood that she engages in risky behaviors (drinking to excess, dating abusive men, etc.) is higher, and thus the likelihood that she will be raped again is higher.

This is the direct quote. Asking for citations is not unreasonable. This claim is not self-evident.
posted by taz at 3:28 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The vast majority of the Seattle Slutwalk wasn't wearing sexy clothes at all.

That might not be a good measure of the global walks. Or it might. But Seattle is so dressed-down in general that it seems more people than usual don't wear sexy clothes anywhere, or wear casual street clothes to everything, including formal events. I see we also made the top-40 worst dressed cities list.
posted by anonymisc at 3:41 PM on July 27, 2011


A question for the Metafilter hivemind before I post my usual awesome comment: A drunken woman walks alone thru an unfamiliar neighbourhood with a headband for a skirt. If she gets sexually assaulted, this is still completely 110% NOT her fault"

You want a black-and-white answer, I know, but feminists are as guilty of filtering bullshit into soundbites as any other group. "Victim blaming" is a social construct that was invented within the feminist mythos and convoluted by blogs into soundbites. It is much like a theory for which no one has yet constructed a proof of concept. It may be right, it may be wrong; regardless, it doesn't work in the real world, and you need a masters degree to fully understand it. It's much like the "rape isn't about sex, it's about power and control" soundbite that ignore power and control as two of the strongest of sexual stimulants.

If you dig through femblogs, you will find that semantics debates quickly turn into rhetorical arguments. The discussions go nowhere because fundamentally, few agree on the definitions of basic terms that everyone uses. You can't even get a consensus within the feminist community on the definition of "consent". Thus, the usual retreat by feminists to generic soundbites when exposed to conversation in the outside world and their generally rabid response when questioned.

To err on the conservative side, don't do it. Just say "Yes, dear" and move along.

"It's all just an echo of what they've been told."
posted by Ardiril at 3:51 PM on July 27, 2011


That might not be a good measure of the global walks. Or it might.

Try a Flickr search - in general, apparel seems to vary with climate, but a wide range of fashions seem to be present. Quite often, people wear an approximation of the clothes they were wearing when they were attacked, which are often surprisingly demure, FSVO surprising. If you want to find a woman in a corset with "slut" written across her breasts you will. That you shouldn't then decide that she is a more appropriate target for sexual assault is kind of the point.

ernielundgen: I don't think your viewpoint is an outlier. There's a nice interview of one of the Slutwalk organizers, where the reporter asks why, if the point is empowerment, the walks aren't called Empowerment Walks. To which she responded "If they were called empowerment walks, would you be here?" It's a double-edged sword, publicity, and I think there is a decent conversation to be had about the slutwalks' use of it, but this thread is a really good example of the difficulties of having that conversation in most environments.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:53 PM on July 27, 2011


Considerate of Ardiril to prove my point, there.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:55 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just say "Yes, dear" and move along.
great advice, will apply it to what you've said here ardiril.
posted by sleep_walker at 4:03 PM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's no being out too late in Whileaway, or up too early, or in the wrong part of town, or unescorted. You cannot fall out of the kinship web and become sexual prey for strangers, for there is no prey and there are no strangers—the web is world-wide. In all of Whileaway there is no one who can keep you from going where you please (though you may risk your life, if that sort of thing appeals to you), no one who will follow you and try to embarrass you by whispering obscenities in your ear, no one who will attempt to rape you, no one who will warn you of the dangers of the street, no one who will stand on street corners, hot-eyed and vicious, jingling loose change in his pants pocket, bitterly bitterly sure that you're a cheap floozy, hot and wild, who likes it, who can't say no, who's making a mint off it, who inspires him with nothing but disgust, and who wants to drive him crazy.

On Whileaway eleven-year-old children strip and live naked in the wilderness above the forty-seventh parallel, where they meditate, stark naked or covered with leaves, sans pubic hair, subsisting on the roots and berries so kindly planted by their elders. You can walk around the Whileawayan equator twenty times (if the feat takes your fancy and you live that long) with one hand on your sex and in the other an emerald the size of a grapefruit. All you'll get is a tired wrist.

While here, where we live―!
~Joanna Russ, The Female Man
posted by nicebookrack at 4:13 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I thought about attending a walk wearing something as similar as I could find to what I was wearing that day when I was 12. And I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I just couldn't open myself up to even one person, saying or writing in a place I could hear anything at all about the way I was dressed and my assault, whether the statement would be that I deserved to be raped because of what I was wearing, or that I didn't, but some other woman did. I am just not that strong, mostly because hearing what I did, when I did, how I did wounded me just that deeply, that almost 30 years later, I can't even put on a damn pair of shorts to wear in public without a meltdown, even though I cam comfortable naked or wearing anything else there is I'd want to wear."

(Article includes a fairly graphic description of this woman's rape)
posted by ChuraChura at 4:28 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just say "Yes, dear" and move along

Oh for fuck's sake.
posted by jokeefe at 4:31 PM on July 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


saysthis: I'm sorry, but showing me cleavage deeper than the cracks in my couch (or even using a push-up bra to achieve that on purpose) makes me wonder: what's the message? Is there a message? Why would anyone constrain themselves in uncomfortable, impractical "slutty" clothes if NOT to show off sexual suitability?

I do it because I find it's fun to feel attractive and sexy. It's got everything to do with "This is one aspect of who I am. I have a right to celebrate it." See, I spent a couple of decades feeling ugly. After I developed the self-confidence to feel, Hey, I, formerly invisible / ridiculed small-boobed acne-scarred glasses-wearing me, I, have every right to feel pretty and sexy sometimes...and I deserve to celebrate this body that I spent far too many years feeling embarrassed about...I joyfully put on push-up bras and more revealing clothing.

I have explained this to many men over the years. Some get it. Many more scratch their heads. They had difficulty grasping the concept. A woman dressing sexy for her own pleasure, rather than that of the men who see her? I might as well have announced that 2 + 2 = 13.

'“Society has a problem with female nudity [or revealingly dressed female bodies] when it is not . . . when it is not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment. Then it becomes confusing.”'
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:35 PM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


A father's take on thinking about his daughter and Slutwalk that's the opposite of tomswift's:
'“What’s SlutWalk?” A note on rallying right next to a sandbox: . . . I said there were many developmentally appropriate things one could say to a child who asked “What’s slutwalk?”

With small kids, the easiest thing to tell them is that SlutWalk is a group of people getting together to remind everyone that no matter what you wear, you deserve to be safe. I’d say, off the top of my head, something like:

“No one ever gets to touch you if you don’t want them to. Some people think that if a girl or a woman wears certain clothes, she deserves to be hurt. The grown-ups at this rally don’t believe that. That’s why you see so many people who look like they aren’t wearing very much. It’s kind of unusual, isn’t it? It’s okay to look and it’s even okay to laugh! It’s just not okay to think that any of these men and women deserve to be hurt because of what they’re wearing.”'
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:41 PM on July 27, 2011 [22 favorites]


I'm sorry, I have a hard time understanding how this works. Is it some sort of scientific law that if X happens to you once, you are more likely to have X happen to you again than someone who has never had X happen to them?

Oh, I see the confusion. Having X happen to you doesn't raise your personal probability of having X happen, but if you look at the group of people who have had X happen, they will tend to be people who had higher probabilities of X happening in the first place.

Think about having a bag of dice, where some are weighted. If you roll all the dice once, and then take the group that rolled 6s, that group will have a higher probability of rolling sixes again even though none of the individual dice have changed-- you've just selected a set of dice that has more weighted ones.
posted by Pyry at 4:42 PM on July 27, 2011


Lindsay Beyerstein's defense of Slutwalk deserves to be linked far and wide:
Even virginity is not a defense against alleged sluttiness. Virgins can be sluts if they dress the wrong way, walk the wrong way, or even instill the wrong thoughts in other people. Some people will convict you of sluttitude because your body is the wrong shape, or the right shape.

What determines sluttiness? Is it number of partners, or the number of sex acts, or the kind of sex, or whether you enjoy it, or what other people infer about your self-esteem based on what they assume about your sex life? It's all of the above, or none of the above. Either way, you lose.

Maybe it has nothing to do with you at all. Maybe it's because your accuser is racist or classist and your "sluttiness" is built into some stereotype that was clanking around in their head before they ever met you.

If you try to argue that you're not a slut, you're implicitly buying into the idea that there are sluts out there. If there's some criterion that will set you free, that standard will indict someone else--someone with a higher "number," or shorter skirt, or a later curfew. So we get bogged down in slut/non-slut border skirmishes over a line nobody should have tried to draw in the first place, and we all lose.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:51 PM on July 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


Oh, I see the confusion. Having X happen to you doesn't raise your personal probability of having X happen, but if you look at the group of people who have had X happen, they will tend to be people who had higher probabilities of X happening in the first place.

And yet no real correlation between how a woman is dressed and her chances of being raped has been shown, so again, I don't see what bearing this has. The "weighted dice", as it were, would not be the wardrobe.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:59 PM on July 27, 2011


From Hugo Schwyzer's "Letter To A Teenage Girl About Clothing, Modesty, and Slutwalk":
the sad truth is that no matter how you dress, no matter what you wear, you will be perceived by some men as a target for their unwanted advances.

You may have heard people say things like “girls who wear short skirts are asking for ‘it’”. By “it” they may mean anything from rape to crude comments and penetrating stares. But as you may already have noticed, girls aren’t immune from harassment when they’re wearing simple or “modest” garb either. . . . The bottom line is that there’s nothing you can wear that will guarantee respect from others. And the reason is that the root of this problem isn’t skin or clothing, it’s our cultural contempt for women and girls.

. . . It is not inconsistent to want to be seen and not be stared at. You know the difference, I suspect, between an “appreciative look” (which can feel very validating) and the “penetrating stare” that leaves you feeling like crawling into a hole. While people are not required to give you the former, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to avoid giving you the latter.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:00 PM on July 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


And to reiterate points already made eloquently above:
There are many different choices I could have made the night I was raped. But there is no choice I could have made that would have made my rapist not a rapist. . . .

I was alone with a man. This is sort of the kicker, the one people think I should regret, where they think I should have known better. In reality, I’ve been alone with many men — friends, family, colleagues, strangers — and the general trend is that they don’t assault me. I suppose, yes, I could never again have a personal relationship that places me alone with another person . . .

Which reminds me of this bit from ellehumour's excellent comment in the "Hi. Whatcha reading?" thread:
When we are raped, everyone and their mother has an opinion on what we could have or should have done to keep from getting raped - we should have been more careful! What did we think, going out there at night? Meanwhile, we're taught from day one that we can never have the simple expectation of being safe - we're told to not go out at night, to not dress a certain way, to not drink too much, to carry weapons like pepper spray, etc. And when we do these things we're accused of "living in fear"; when we don't do them, we're accused of not being careful enough.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:17 PM on July 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


I don't know if I can make it to the Minneapolis Slutwalk.

If I could, I would like to dress like Lucretia.


I look at that painting every day - I can't look away. It's not Rembrandt's most lucid, but it's undeniably raw and emotionally immediate. I have gazed at it for years and I cannot break my eyes from hers.

Some people would like to think that Lucretia's guilt regarding her own rape, and her subsequent suicide are a relic of another place and another time, but they aren't.

I can only speak for myself, and a little for people with whom I have spoken, but there is so much shame and guilt. You can find so many ways to blame yourself. If I only hadn't worn this, or said this, or been here. I must have done something to deserve it. And there are plenty, lots of people who will blame you or trivialize your pain.

Unfortunately, I have a few outfits to choose from, but somehow I think more people would recognize the message if I dressed like Lucretia.

Lucretia the Slut.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:33 PM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


You want a black-and-white answer, I know, but

He got one. Several, actually.

So the rest of your comment is kind of a non-sequitur.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:38 PM on July 27, 2011


Not to pile on, but some of the reasons that some women are likely to be raped more than once are that rapists often target people they see as vulnerable, including people who are disabled, poor, or otherwise in a persistent vulnerable situation.

It's easy to tell women to stay out of bad neighborhoods after dark and to not put themselves in vulnerable positions, but some women live in those 'bad' neighborhoods. Many of those same women have to commute to and from those neighborhoods, often in the dark. And people with disabilities can't turn them off. So not all vulnerable positions are really all that transient or avoidable.

If you want to see some real correlating statistics, though, look at this study by David Lisak (PDF), in which he interviewed men about rape, and a disturbingly large minority admitted to him that they'd raped women, and a similarly disturbing number admitted to multiple rapes. Nearly all of the rapists told him that they intentionally targeted people they saw as vulnerable.

So when people lash out at victim blaming, that's why. Ask any woman you know to really describe her risk aversion policies, and I think you'll find that most of do take some risks, simply so we can live marginally normal lives. Sometimes, we go out and drink or do drugs. Sometimes, we intentionally dress to attract consensual sexual partners or just attention. Sometimes, we are just plain tired and take calculated risks just so we can get home more quickly. Sometimes, we don't have the luxury of avoiding those risks.

Men and women live in very different worlds, and when you really start looking at those differences, you get mad.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:47 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Victim blaming is a social construct

When The Best of Everything was reprinted a few years ago Rona Jaffe came to speak at a local bookstore. Before reading a relevant passage, she said "We knew what sexual harrasment was; we just didn't have a name for it". Same case here.



I'm curious to know what percentage of women who want to enjoy feminist ideals but don't like the word had it used pejoratively by their male authority figures.
posted by brujita at 5:57 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


You want a black-and-white answer, I know, but feminists are as guilty of filtering bullshit into soundbites as any other group. "Victim blaming" is a social construct that was invented within the feminist mythos and convoluted by blogs into soundbites.

Based on you MeFi profile, you're not a woman. You have undoubtedly never been raped. You don't experience any of the myriad bullshit things women face every day. DO NOT sit there with your male privilege and tell me that victim blaming doesn't exist. You don't have to go through it, you don't know anything about it. If it doesn't effect you, the rest of us should ignore it, too, right? Fuck off with that noise.

It is much like a theory for which no one has yet constructed a proof of concept. It may be right, it may be wrong; regardless, it doesn't work in the real world, and you need a masters degree to fully understand it.

Do not ever mansplain the concept of victim blaming to a woman who has been raped (me) because it's too complicated for your man brain to understand without a degree. How hard is it to understand the words "victim" and "blame"? English, motherfucker, do you speak it? Example: Rape victim is told that she was raped because she did something that supposedly made it her fault. She is blamed for something that was never in her control. How fucking hard is that to understand, seriously? Stop being willfully ignorant so you can deny that victim blaming exists. You are doing a profound disservice to all women. You are a patriarchal man who doesn't have to deal with this shit telling women that they're really just imagining being blamed for their own rapes. That's called gaslighting, btw.

It's much like the "rape isn't about sex, it's about power and control" soundbite that ignore power and control as two of the strongest of sexual stimulants.

Rapists use sex as a means to control their victims. The primary motivation in rape is not merely to have sex, it is to force the victim to comply with his wishes. Sex is a way to exert his power, by violating the bodily sovereignty of the victim.

If you dig through femblogs, you will find that semantics debates quickly turn into rhetorical arguments. The discussions go nowhere because fundamentally, few agree on the definitions of basic terms that everyone uses. You can't even get a consensus within the feminist community on the definition of "consent". Thus, the usual retreat by feminists to generic soundbites when exposed to conversation in the outside world and their generally rabid response when questioned.

Ah, here's the crux of the matter - you don't like the discussions that women have amongst themselves and you don't like that we don't want your input because you're a man. Bitter, bitter, bitter. Just because women call themselves feminists, it doesn't mean we're all the same. We have different opinions, and we have flaws, just like other groups. Discussion is how we reach a consensus. We don't always get it right the first time and not all feminists are free from privilege. Sorry you didn't approve of the discussions you saw, Mr. Man. I know, why don't you go on internet forums and talk shit about the women's movement since your limited experience and your maleness make you an authority on the subject. Guess you can check that one off!

If you're going to spout this crap, then I want citations or quotes to prove your assertions. Part of reading comprehension is understanding when a person is speaking with authority on a subject. Not all feminists are in a position of authority on every issue they speak about, and not every feminist has a well-rounded grasp on all the issues that face women who aren't like her. Some feminists presume to speak for groups they don't represent and members of the group are well within their rights to complain about it. Your failure is your inability to comprehend these distinctions. You're not a woman. You have no direct experience with rape culture. You are not an authority, nor a you a member of the group you presume to speak for. You purport to know so much about the feminist blogosphere yet you seem bitter and you're a condescending tool. See your own words below.

To err on the conservative side, don't do it. Just say "Yes, dear" and move along.

Do not condescend to me, jerkwad. Either have a real discussion or don't bother. You're just as much to blame for the way women are treated as any feminist is. And guess what? Since you're a man the world pays more attention to your words and what you have to say. Thanks for helping women out by making sure OUR words are ignored, that our LIVES are ignored. Your attitude informs everything you do, all your interactions, all your decisions. It's like a slow poison that spreads from you to the rest of the world by your every word and deed. I hope you like knowing that all the men like you contribute to a never-ending tide of misery in women's lives.

To quote myself from above:
You may see it as an occasional chat about rape on an online forum where your ignorance (or outright trolling) is harmless, but for me, for millions of women, rape is real, we've lived through it. There is nothing you, as a straight man who is statistically more likely to commit rape than to ever be raped, can teach me or any other woman about rape. And women have to go through this discussion every day, on every forum, every time rape is mentioned. Don't you think we get tired of the tide of ignorance? I know that's the nature of the internet, but this is MeFi, we're supposed to be better than the 4chan. Mull it over the next time you feel like you just have to weigh in on this topic.
posted by i feel possessed at 9:40 PM on July 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


on preview, this is just piling on... but as I writing at the same time as i feel possessed, I'll go ahead and post my precioussssss words. ;)


I guess we're supposed to read "victim blaming is a social construct" as "victim blaming is made-up idea that doesn't exist in the objective world"? I'm not really sure what the insinuation is, to be honest. Most human interaction/communication is a social construct, for better or worse. That's how it works.

So it's just dismissive jargon employed to belittle women who are fighting against a very specific injustice that happens all the time, however you want to refer to it... just as everything else in that comment was dismissive and dripping with contempt – but void of meaning.

Feminists talk in "sound bites" (unlike anyone else striving to communicate efficiently about known quantities that don't need to be redefined ad infinitum each time the concept is broached); this feminist idea "doesn't work in the real world" (as opposed to the completely impossible world that some deluded women envision, where they might enjoy the same freedom from being blamed for crimes committed against them that men enjoy. Nope. Doesn't work. Not in the Real World.).

"Semantics debates quickly turn into rhetorical arguments," but only in "femblogs." No other groups have rhetorical arguments when attempting to discuss political and social issues. Silly, ineffective, deluded fems and their blogs!

Feminists ignore "power and control as two of the strongest of sexual stimulants" (when, really, they should embrace this idea! Instead of saying rape isn't about sex, it's about power and control, they should say that since a lot men get off on power and control, and rape is about power and control, then clearly, rape and sex are the same thing!)

...aaaaand all wrapped up with a "yes, dear" bow on top.

Ardiril, it seems like you're returning to your old trolling habit; I'm sorry to see it.
posted by taz at 9:58 PM on July 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


A lot of the problems with these discussions is that men get defensive in the face of women's completely valid anger.

What you need to understand is that women's anger is a valid form of expression. It is not something that needs to be stopped, quelled or quashed. You don't need to interrupt to say, "But there are good men in the world." Our anger isn't about your feelings, it's about our feelings, the violation of our bodies. It's not for your consumption any more than our bodies are free territory for uninvited interlopers. It may spill over into visible areas, but that doesn't mean we want your input or your commentary.

Remember that part of the reason women and rape are ignored is that men already place their own desires, feelings and thought above those of women and talk right over us. Ever been in a group of mostly women with a couple of men and noticed how men dominate the discussion like it's their right? Yeah, it's like that. We have a hard enough time being heard as it is.

If you've never raped a woman, man or child, and you support women's rights, you don't need to defend yourself or anyone else. You don't need to immediately get defensive and start a commenting spree to "defend the innocent men". Women are not angry at you specifically. Let it go and lurk instead. Lurking = learning. Maybe you'll figure out why women are angry instead of just blindly charging in to needlessly defend the honor of manhood. Actions speak louder than words, do they not?

Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough: it is never the job of the oppressed group to educate the ignorant. You need to educate yourself. There are a lot of good online resources to learn about Feminism 101, Racism 101, etc. online. If you're worried that internet discussions will lead you astray, use your library. There are beginner's references that can help you. Use critical thinking to determine whether a writer is speaking with authority, read criticisms of their work. Learn about intersectionality. Ask for help on Ask.MeFi. There are places where your questions will be welcome and places where they will not. You'll learn which is which by lurking. And even if you find yourself reading competing viewpoints, I've always found that helpful because it enables me work out on my own where I stand on an issue.

Realize that even if you want to support women, they may not want your support. Look for other ways to help, like donating time or money to women's shelters and crisis hotlines. Treat women with respect, as people, as friends. Teach other men and boys to do the same. Challenge sexist (racist, homophobic) remarks when you hear them - letting them go unchallenged allows them to become commonplace, it creates a climate of casual sexism (racism, homophobia) that spreads. You can be a great ally, and you can work to help make every woman's life better.

It starts with you.
posted by i feel possessed at 11:47 PM on July 27, 2011 [17 favorites]


Not following my own advice entirely, but, Ardiril:

"Victim blaming" is a social construct that was invented within the feminist mythos and convoluted by blogs into soundbites. It is much like a theory for which no one has yet constructed a proof of concept. It may be right, it may be wrong; regardless, it doesn't work in the real world, and you need a masters degree to fully understand it.

"Women who are sexually assaulted often find themselves being blamed for what they were wearing, how they were behaving or where they were walking, taking attention away from and minimizing the blame attached to the person who committed the assault."

If you think that's a Master's degree-level answer to a question, I don't know where you got yours from.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:28 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are not an authority on what Mefi is or is not. Don't shove yourself in front of anyone's face with some ridiculous ersatz authority on what anybody can say here.

Yo, how's it goin'? I've been reading MetaFilter since 2000 or 2001, long before I joined in 2005. If you think it's not a safe space now, you should have seen it then, it was really female unfriendly back in the old days. I've actually been heartened by the lessening of the stupid antics over time. I don't know if that's because the uber-assholes moved on or they just grew up. So, actually, I am kind of am an authority on how it's changed over time and what it is now compared to what it used to be.

BTW, I'm not saying it has to be a safe space, I'm saying that as a woman who's been raped, I'm an authority on being a woman and being raped. That makes me a little more qualified to talk about rape than a man who doesn't even believe that victim blaming exists. If you don't like that, you can also GYOB.
posted by i feel possessed at 4:57 AM on July 28, 2011


[metatalk is a great place to go when you have stopped talking to other commenters and are just fighting about how the site works, feel free to go there.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:10 AM on July 28, 2011


It's been said and said and said by women to men for centuries. But I'm going to try to simplify it for those here who still don't get it one more time.

There is a discernible slope of thought from "Why is she wearing that sexy outfit here? She could be raped" to "Why is she wearing that sexy outfit here? She should be raped."

There is a similar slope of thought from "Women should hide their genitals so I won't feel aroused" to "Women should hide their breasts" to "Women should hide their legs" to "Women should hide their faces."

And "Women should avoid walking alone at night" can oh so easily evolve into "Women should avoid walking alone" to "Women who leave their homes without men and are raped get exactly what they deserve."

Men who think women can be to blame in any way for sexual attacks made against them, I ask you to consider whether your minds are sliding down any of those slippery, slippery slopes.

If you don't understand how efforts by men to protect women from men by advising women to curtail their activities in the world can morph seamlessly into widespread oppression of women by men who believe women should not be entitled to the same freedoms as men, I suggest you carefully reexamine your history books. Or, hell, just turn on the nightly news.
posted by BlueJae at 10:04 AM on July 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Why is she wearing that sexy outfit here? She could be raped" to "Why is she wearing that sexy outfit here? She should be raped."

Both of which are bullshit, though.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:16 PM on July 28, 2011


At the risk of speaking for BlueJae, I think that's exactly what they meant. The initial proposition, even if it is bullshit, easily morphs into even more dangerous ideas.
posted by odinsdream at 12:23 PM on July 28, 2011


I mean, sure. Points for good intentions and all. Still doesn't preclude pointing out the facts of the matter, I don't think.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:31 PM on July 28, 2011


Again, this is just my interpretation of the comment: the quoted text is spoken in reality, some people even believe it, even though it's bullshit. The comment was demonstrating the link between various shades of the same bullshit, not validating it.
posted by odinsdream at 12:34 PM on July 28, 2011


Ah, I see where you're coming from now. And yes, I read it that way now, too.

I swear I need to get more sleep or something.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:38 PM on July 28, 2011


Scantily clad marching seems weirdly blind to the race, class and body-image issues that usually (rightly) obsess young feminists and seems inhospitable to scads of women who, for various reasons, might not feel it logical or comfortable to express their revulsion at victim-blaming by donning bustiers.

...

It's not about dressing in revealing ways (there is no dress code for a SlutWalk), though some may certainly do that.

I get the feeling that most of the complainers against Slut Walks have never actually seen one.

Why are men allowed to walk around without any shirts on?

The better question is why women aren't allowed to.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:50 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


White Boy: I don't think it's a problem, 'cause most of the girls ask for it.

Kathleen: Uh-huh, how do they ask for it?

White Boy: The way they act, the way they...I can't say the way they dress, because that's their own personal choice. Some of these dumb ho's, those slut rocker bitches walking down the street, they're asking for it. They may deny it, but it's true.
posted by ostranenie at 1:08 PM on July 28, 2011


I have an interesting question for the people who think that women are partially culpable for rape if they dress "provocatively". Even just a tiny bit culpable.

Could those of you who think this please describe for us, in your own words, SPECIFICALLY what consititutes "provocative" dress on a woman?

I'm asking because: I suspect that each of you will produce a different definition of "provocative." Some will be more conservative than others.

If in fact this happens -- THEN, can all of you come to a consensus on which definition of "provocative" shall be the standard? Better still -- could you come to this concensus upon the accepted definition of "provocative" with everyone in the world?

Because I suspect part of the disconnect here is that one person's definition of "provocative" may be another person's definition of "acceptable". And if you're going to accuse me of being "provocative," the only fair thing to do is first be sure we're both using the same damn dictionary, rather than having your definition call my outfit "provocative" but my dictionary calling it "acceptable in warm weather".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:24 PM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is a discernible slope of thought from "Why is she wearing that sexy outfit here? She could be raped" to "Why is she wearing that sexy outfit here? She should be raped."

There is a similar slope of thought from "Women should hide their genitals so I won't feel aroused" to "Women should hide their breasts" to "Women should hide their legs" to "Women should hide their faces."

And "Women should avoid walking alone at night" can oh so easily evolve into "Women should avoid walking alone" to "Women who leave their homes without men and are raped get exactly what they deserve."

Men who think women can be to blame in any way for sexual attacks made against them, I ask you to consider whether your minds are sliding down any of those slippery, slippery slopes.


But I'd ask you to consider that such thoughts - such attitudes - span both history and geography. Which says to me they're hardwired, to whatever extent, into the human psyche.

None of which is to say that anything a woman wears means she is to blame for being raped. But I was struck by this bit upthread:

I walked past it when it was going on (and several women I know were in it and told me about their experiences there), and it was surrounded by a second-order crowd with a large proportion of men leering at them. I was pretty disgusted with a couple of amateur photographers who were blocking the sidewalk as they followed the protest snapping sexy photographs of girls in tight clothing.

Why would that be? Gee - buncha pigs turned out to gape at the scantily clad women. Who could have ever anticipated it.

And we say the whole point of the "Slutwalk" is to eradicate that attitude. A heroic sentiment. I just think it's overly idealistic to think it can ever actually be eradicated, which is why discretion, always, in all situations, is a wise idea.
posted by kgasmart at 2:49 PM on July 28, 2011


But I'd ask you to consider that such thoughts - such attitudes - span both history and geography. Which says to me they're hardwired, to whatever extent, into the human psyche.

This sort of defeatist attitude is not what put a man on the Moon.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:29 PM on July 28, 2011


It may not ever be entirely eradicated, but generally speaking, in the US and Canada anyway, those attitudes are much less prevalent than they were in, say, the 1970s. Why? Largely because of the work of women and men who were able to get people talking and thinking about it. Questioning and challenging the status quo is a prerequisite for changing it. Slutwalks are this generation's consciousness-raising groups.

which is why discretion, always, in all situations, is a wise idea.

To echo EmpressCallipygos: one person's definition of "provocative carelessness" may be another person's definition of "acceptable discretion" and yet another person's definition of "paranoid." We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. So, what helps make our world a better place is not to add yet one more voice to the chorus that scrutinizes and criticizes and offers simplistic advice about how women could, it is groundlessly presumed, avoid harassment or rape.

As if it's not already an ingrained way of life and thought for us, this trying to strike a balance between a. trying to become invisible (shapeless clothes, etc) in an often futile bid to avoid attracting negative attention, and b. having a semblance of a normal public life.

The first time a man groped me, I was around 13, walking through a nice middle-class neighbourhood to my 6 pm piano lesson after school. It was winter, so I was dressed in shapeless layers of winter clothes. It was dark, because at that latitude in that season, the sun sets by 5 pm.

Was I not discreet enough? Should I, for the rest of my childhood, have gotten my parents to drive me everywhere I needed to go after sunset, and once I was 16, should I have driven myself everywhere and never walked anywhere after sunset? Should I have adjusted all of my public activities to take place during daylight hours? Should I have piled on yet more clothes? Should I have prayed to God for more acne to make my face uglier, more invisible? Did I not walk discreetly and invisibly enough? Should I have asked a male friend or family member to accompany me at all times if I had to be in public after dark? Should I as an adult have continued to seek out ways in which I could become more "discreet" than I had been at age 13?

We are asking more people to direct a fraction of their scrutiny, criticism, and well-meaning but often uninformed advice regarding women's conduct, toward the male asshole behaviour that targets us instead. Why the resistance to this idea? I really, sincerely want to know: Why the insistence on continuing to give us the supposed benefit of your scrutiny, criticism, and advice, instead of them?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:06 PM on July 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


Gee - buncha pigs turned out to gape at the scantily clad women. Who could have ever anticipated it.

You can both anticipate something and think it disgusting or inappropriate. That doesn't make the initial action wrong. If two guys walk around holding hands in a conservative small town, they can reasonably anticipate being harassed. Doesn't mean they're doing anything wrong.
posted by desjardins at 6:12 PM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Comments like yours (and not just yours, kgasmart, but others upthread) imply that you think you'd strike a better balance between "discretion" and conducting a normal life than the women who are groped, harassed, etc. Maybe that's an uncharitable interpretation. Perhaps you don't know about, or haven't thought through, all the stuff we already weigh and do in an effort to walk that tightrope between "paranoia" and "living a normal-esque life in public."

Probably some of y'all who make such comments just don't care. That would help explain why we keep having to explain and defend the truth of what our everyday lives are like every time this subject comes up.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:17 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


To echo EmpressCallipygos: one person's definition of "carelessness" may be another person's definition of "discretion" and yet another person's definition of "paranoid." We're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

That was kind of my point, actually.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:32 PM on July 28, 2011


We are asking more people to direct a fraction of their scrutiny, criticism, and well-meaning but often uninformed advice regarding women's conduct, toward the male asshole behaviour that targets us instead. Why the resistance to this idea? I really, sincerely want to know: Why the insistence on continuing to give us the supposed benefit of your scrutiny, criticism, and advice, instead of them?

Because what they do is by definition criminal. And criminal behavior is something else that's always been with us, and is likely to always be with us.

Criminals shouldn't be criminals! I'm with you. Tell me when that works, because in thousands of years of human history it hasn't worked yet, but maybe if we construct a lunar module...

You can both anticipate something and think it disgusting or inappropriate. That doesn't make the initial action wrong. If two guys walk around holding hands in a conservative small town, they can reasonably anticipate being harassed. Doesn't mean they're doing anything wrong.

But here you're admitting that actions are destined to provoke a certain reaction. Which is exactly what I'm arguing.
posted by kgasmart at 7:50 PM on July 28, 2011


But here you're admitting that actions are destined to provoke a certain reaction. Which is exactly what I'm arguing.

In much of the Western, industrialized world we have eradicated or radically reduced a whole bunch of shitty behaviors by making them both socially and legally out of bounds. We don't just throw up our hands and say "Well, since we can't prevent all [blank], talking or agitating against instances of [blank] is pointless."

Some actions will provoke a reaction, even when those initial actions are not intended to be provocative. The shitty, abusive reactions are what deserve attention and condemnation. The asshole who screams homophobic bullshit at me is the one who deserves your counsel and advice. I am walking down the fucking street, being me. I don't need anybody's goddamn advice about how to be more "discreet" when my only indiscretion is looking insufficiently girly to some loudmouth fuckhead.
posted by rtha at 8:27 PM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Because what they do is by definition criminal. And criminal behavior is something else that's always been with us, and is likely to always be with us.

Criminals shouldn't be criminals! I'm with you. Tell me when that works, because in thousands of years of human history it hasn't worked yet, but maybe if we construct a lunar module...


If we had to depend on people like you, our social norms would not condemn or even have a name (sexual harassment) for when a boss demands sexual attention from his/her employee, and the idea that a husband could rape his wife would still be considered legally impossible. For starters. The only reason these can be considered "criminal" now is the backbreaking, years-long work of women and men who recognized them as shitty behaviours and challenged members of the public and the legal profession to rethink them. To discuss whether such behaviours really deserved informal or formal censure, or whether they should continue to be shoved under the rug with the kind of complacent "What're ya gonna do?" "Why even bother to try?" shrugging that you're doing.

Peer perception is well documented to influence behaviour, but if you choose not to offer advice and criticism to asshole men, fine. On the other hand if you think you know, better than the women in this thread, how to walk that tightrope between "discretion" and "living as normal a public life as possible," please explain how you arrived at this conclusion. If you don't think that, then there's no good reason to insistently offer theoretical advice regarding tightrope-walking to people who've had to walk tightropes since puberty or childhood. But I have blind spots, same as everyone, so maybe I'm overlooking a good reason. If you see one or several, I sincerely invite you to fill me in.

Empress Callipygos: That was kind of my point, actually.

Yes. I reiterated it because repetition often seems to help people grok concepts that challenge their assumptions.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:54 AM on July 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm a day late, but, thanks, odinsdream -- that is exactly what I meant. You did an excellent job of speaking for me, actually, and I appreciate it. Oh, and you can call me "she."

And I'm sorry my intent wasn't clear to you at first, Marissa Stole the Precious Thing. My point was that telling women not to wear certain supposedly "provocative" clothes because wearing those clothes "might get them raped" is oppressive behavior dressed up as concern. IMO it only hurts women and reinforces rape culture.

(In fact I'm actually one of those crazy hippies who thinks clothing itself should be optional. For everyone. I happen to like clothes a great deal, myself, and probably wouldn't dig going around nude, but I don't care if someone else wants to. Modesty standards re:clothing are just a social construct. In places where women ARE allowed to go shirtless, men are not in fact driven insane by the sight.)
posted by BlueJae at 10:00 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why would that be? Gee - buncha pigs turned out to gape at the scantily clad women. Who could have ever anticipated it.

And we say the whole point of the "Slutwalk" is to eradicate that attitude. A heroic sentiment. I just think it's overly idealistic to think it can ever actually be eradicated, which is why discretion, always, in all situations, is a wise idea.


I haven't been to Burning Man in a long time, but I think it's worth mentioning Critical Tits here. On one hand: a chance for women to be as free as men aided by the anonymity and safety of the large crowd. On the other: a chance for men to take pictures of boobies.

Fuck discretion.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:11 AM on July 29, 2011


In fact I'm actually one of those crazy hippies who thinks clothing itself should be optional.

I'm not a crazy hippie, and of course clothes should be optional.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:12 AM on July 29, 2011


You're rebutting an argument I'm not making. The original question was why women who have been raped are more likely to be raped again, and I identified a reason why likelihood should increase. Not the reason or even the most important reason. And my argument is easily modifiable to say women who have been raped are more likely to have more risk factors for rape, which makes it more likely that they'll be raped again.

Emphasis mine. But hold up, this isn't quite what I remember. Hang on.

People who are victims of crimes are more likely to have engaged in risky behaviors (perhaps I should not have presupposed what risky behaviors are, but it seems to me that heavy drinking and dating abusive men are safely within that arena) simply by mathematical fact. If you are wet, it is more likely that you have been in a rainstorm than someone who is not wet. Unless you don't believe that there are any risky behaviors for women to engage in, what I said is logically sound, and it doesn't require a preternatural rapist-sense that other posters suggested.

Well then. Probability based on "risk factors" is not the same thing as probability based on "risky behaviors." It makes a huge fucking difference in your argument, actually. Most notably because the latter shifts the responsibility to the victim.

A lot of people have pointed out the disparities in both directions between (allegedly) risky behaviors for rape, risk factors for rape, and incidence of rape.

Weren't you going to provide some citations?
posted by desuetude at 9:14 PM on July 29, 2011


There are lots of ideas relating to gender equality that I do not fully understand, and some that I see as flawed or questionable. Is a woman's conditioned guardedness around men any more effective than airport "security theater"? There's the whole "women's bodies, men's eyes" minefield. And I find "enthusiastic consent" to be such an tellingly loaded two-word phrase!

None of that is germane to this thread-- it's been flamey enough, thanks!-- except to point out that I don't think I'm too close-minded, but I'm probably not ideologically aligned with every tenet of feminism (or an easy sell), either.

All of that buildup for this:
Does anyone here know anyone who's opinions have shifted after hearing/seeing a Slutwalk?
Yeah. ME.

Back in May there were three MetaFilter-related threads that led me to rethink some things:

There was a MetaTalk thread about a Brisbane slutwalk. That thread was the one that first brought the concept to my attention, and I thought divabat did a very good job of explaining her rationale.

Also, I saw a MetaFilter post about a topless Ukranian protest. The seriousness of the issues those women were facing was coupled with some relatively dismissive comments in the thread, and that contrast reframed the whole issue for me: if women insist upon respect for their bodies and their minds, why should anyone else feel entitled to deny them that, overrule them or force them into a false-dichotomy stance?

Finally, I clicked on an anonymous AskMetaFilter question from a woman weighing her options in the aftermath of an assault that I found harrowing to read-- not for any lurid details, but because of the entirely logical bleakness with which she laid out the probable attitude of her attacker, her relative lack of options, and her continued vulnerability. I wanted to respond to that one, but what could I possibly say? That thread really helped me realize how our society can stigmatize victims and give cover to their assailants in a million hope-sapping ways.

--Not that the thread paints its poster as some sort of helpless victim, if that's the impression I'm giving here! I wanted to post in that thread because she did such an admirable job in standing up for herself despite all the obstacles, and for the sake of anyone else that her attacker might target/have targeted. The bravery in that thread-- and the other two-- definitely made an impact on my outlook. How can we fault these women for fighting for control of their own selves?

tl;dr summary: Yes, people's minds can be changed. I really do appreciate the actions, AND the posts.
posted by tyro urge at 9:39 PM on July 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


women who are groped, harassed, etc

I'm good friends with a Chinese girl who's lived here for about 8 years. Groped and harassed?!! I can just hear her reply right now as she's stifling laughs, "get over yourselves, girls!" She told me growing up was one nonstop grope-fest from about the age of eight.

There's a great Camille Paglia quote I'd dig up if I wasn't so busy today. Basically she said spoilt white girls who have never had a real job get all worked up about this. The average female from the school of hard knocks has a much better understanding of where to direct their "OUTRAGE!"
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:43 PM on July 29, 2011


She told me growing up was one nonstop grope-fest from about the age of eight.

Which automatically makes it awesome! It should happen to everyone! If you don't enjoy it, you're just an overprivileged whiner!

Also, Camille Paglia is full of shit.
posted by rtha at 10:12 PM on July 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


I am a woman who has always hated the term "slut." I've always thought it was like the word "nigger" or "faggot" in that one doesn't have any personal agency in avoiding being called that term. They are cruel words, abusive and meant to instill fear and shame while not being definable: open ended, free association mystery rage at the "uppity" woman, black person, gay person. I'll go ahead and define "uppity" though- person with self respect who has the audacity to live ones life without asking you if it's okay to look, behave, feel, be born in a way you don't accept, understand or feel comfortable with.

Have you ever heard any of those words uttered by folks who didn't scare you at the venom with which they were spoken?

While I am sure some will say that slut is not even close to the category of the other two, and the n-word at the worst, I'd point out that it seems to me it's because it's still pretty A-Okay to look a woman over, and assess whether she has had a few too many sexual encounters (BAD!) or you can see the point where her breasts meet (SHAME!) and you, as a woman, are surely supposed to be ashamed of those things.

Except we aren't supposed to be ashamed. Of our bodies, or having consensual sex. We can have sex with a different person every single day if free time allows. We can wear whatever clothes we choose because the whole friggin' point of clothes when not for protection from sun, wind or snow is decoration.

And my geadds! with all the talk of the "bad neighborhood!!!" I've lived in plenty of poor, under-served neighborhoods. Most of my life, really. Worked as a bartender, walked home late, sometimes drunk. Often. Very, very safely thank you. (We poor folks might not be perfect, but we are not about to murder, rape, mug or kill you as much as you might think!)

And not where I was raped. Either time. (And wowie, I don't have bad taste in men! Or do drugs! Oh, but I am poor...hmmm.)

Reclaiming words has the power, under certain circumstances and at certain times, of taking the power away from the speaker, and sometimes it feels like the only power we have. Or that the tiny amount of power it gives us is enough to strengthen us enough to take even more of or self-respect back when we do this in numbers. YMMV.

Slutwalk is about making it clear that women are not responsible for the violence that is constantly being foisted upon them. It's pretty damn simple, really.
posted by metasav at 10:13 PM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


ernielundquist: some of the reasons that some women are likely to be raped more than once are that rapists often target people they see as vulnerable, including people who are disabled, poor, or otherwise in a persistent vulnerable situation.

xarnop: Predators read even more in the area of potential to achieve submission/fear/dissociation/terror/immobility.

loquacious: people who have issues with assertiveness from trauma. It really shows in body language and verbal communication sometimes. Lack of eye contact, defensive postures, keeping hands and arms tucked away, head down, startling unduly at loud noises, that kind of thing.

Thanks y'all. (Probably I've missed other contributors' comments along these lines, sorry. Above quotes were first results in a quick keyword search.) More re how rapists and sexual harassers choose their targets in this paper, footnotes 140 to 164. Summary here.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:14 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can just hear her reply right now as she's stifling laughs, "get over yourselves, girls!"She told me growing up was one nonstop grope-fest from about the age of eight.

Oooo, more "Suck it up and stop trying to make this shitty world a better place, whiners," only this time, by token Oppression Olympic proxy.

spoilt

Unsubstantiated judgment

white

Nope

girls

OK this one's comparatively accurate, but incomplete considering how many men in here have said they think these issues are worthwhile

who have never had a real job

Unsubstantiated judgment again

get all worked up about this. The average female from the school of hard knocks has a much better understanding of where to direct their "OUTRAGE!"

Ah, the old "I decree that you're doing it badly, therefore we can all go home to lunch" standby. Plus, studious ignoring of the fact that we can challenge "slut" mythology and purportedly more serious issues at the same time, what a concept.

Rebuttal of substantive point(s) raised upthread would be much more interesting than these tinny potshots.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:44 AM on July 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


Everyone's entitled to their opinion, uncanny hengeman. Maybe you and your friend could start your own Sexual-Assault-Is-No-Big-Deal Walk.
posted by taz at 1:58 AM on July 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm good friends with a Chinese girl who's lived here for about 8 years. Groped and harassed?!! I can just hear her reply right now as she's stifling laughs, "get over yourselves, girls!" She told me growing up was one nonstop grope-fest from about the age of eight.
"


That's just fucking sad and wrong. How is that supposed to make this any better? "Oh, some girls are groped younger, so you shouldn't bitch about being told you being raped is your fault."

Yeah FUCK THAT BULLSHIT.


There's a great Camille Paglia quote I'd dig up if I wasn't so busy today. Basically she said spoilt white girls who have never had a real job get all worked up about this. The average female from the school of hard knocks has a much better understanding of where to direct their "OUTRAGE!


So, we should let rapists walk all over us, rape us, beat us, treat us like dirt, leave us lying beaten and broken, physically and emotionally, because it is a "first world problem" to think that what a woman wears should not be considered an excuse for a man raping her.
posted by SuzySmith at 5:11 AM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Camille Paglia

Pardon me a moment while I laugh so hard I may vomit. So, on top of your weird little anecdote about your friend who's alright with being groped - and so, by extension, must everyone else - you're going to top it off with a quote from a writer who's made victim-blaming an aspect of her career? This is supposed to be a counter argument? Wow, try not to get any splinters from grasping them straws.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:26 AM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, Suzy - I think uncanny and his friend would say that it's okay to complain (a little!) about actually being raped. But we should STFU about men who yell at us from cars or grope us on buses, because that shit is no big deal and is completely unconnected from anything to do with rape.

I'm certain that if uncanny's 8-year-old daughter - should he ever have one - comes home from school one day and tells her loving dad that a boy in the next grade put his hand up her skirt, he'll just tell her to stop whining. Right, uncanny? Because your friend says that happens all the time to little girls, and if it's so normal, then feeling upset about it is just stupid, right?
posted by rtha at 7:31 AM on July 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well then. Probability based on "risk factors" is not the same thing as probability based on "risky behaviors." It makes a huge fucking difference in your argument, actually. Most notably because the latter shifts the responsibility to the victim.

It really doesn't. My argument is a restatement of Baye's theorem: P(A|B)/P(A) = P(B|A)/P(B). Which is to say that if incidence of B makes A more likely than A is in the general populace, then the converse is true. Since by definition, risk factors or risky behavior makes victimization more likely, victimization makes it more likely that risky behavior was taken or that the victim has risky characteristics. There is no blame to be had; this is just basic probability.
posted by TypographicalError at 5:23 PM on July 30, 2011


TypographicalError, risk factors certainly may include certain behaviors, but referencing a separate (redundant) distinction of "risky behaviors" does emphasize the victim's behaviors over other risk factors. And it seems much easier to get judgmental about behavior than other risk factors.

(Funny thing, minority women have a higher incidence of sexual assault than white women, but a lower incidence of regular alcohol-drinking and higher incidence of lifetime abstinence from alcohol.)
posted by desuetude at 7:57 PM on July 30, 2011


India 'Slutwalk' sex harassment protest held in Delhi
posted by Anything at 1:33 PM on July 31, 2011


I just found this I think it is highly relevant. It is often claimed that women get revictimized BECAUSE they are drinking. That relationship is complexed and this study indicates that revictimization has a CAUSAL relationship in causing problem drinking to increase. Meaning that revictimization itself may happen BEFORE the drinking behavior escelates.

"OBJECTIVE: Adult sexual assault (ASA) survivors report greater levels of problem drinking than do other women, and research suggests that their coping strategies, reactions from their social networks, and traumatic life events affect their problem drinking. The links between these factors and problem drinking may be moderated by whether survivors are revictimized, yet research has not examined this possibility. Therefore, the current study examined psychosocial factors, problem drinking, and revictimization in women ASA survivors.

METHOD: Community-dwelling urban women (n = 555) who had experienced an ASA completed a mail survey at Time 1 (T1) and were resurveyed 1 year later to examine how revictimization between survey waves moderated the effects of coping strategies, social reactions to assault disclosures, and traumatic life events on problem drinking at Time 2 (T2).

RESULTS: The findings showed that recent revictimization that occurred between surveys was related to increased problem drinking at T2, after T1 problem drinking was controlled for. Moderated hierarchical multiple regressions showed that survivors who engaged in drinking to cope with distress, who received negative social reactions in response to recent assault disclosures, or who experienced additional traumatic events had increased T2 problem drinking only if they were revictimized since T1."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19118390
posted by xarnop at 9:09 AM on August 9, 2011


India 'Slutwalk' sex harassment protest held in Delhi

India's Walk of Shame: SlutWalk India was not quite the riotous occasion that it's been in other countries. Too bad, because India's streets could use some equality.
posted by homunculus at 9:25 AM on August 9, 2011


India's Pink Vigilantes: Clad in electric pink saris, the all-female gang shames abusive husbands and corrupt politicians. Amana Fontanella-Khan talks to the woman behind the largest women's vigilante group in the world.
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on August 9, 2011


SlutWalk DC marchers protest sexual assault and a culture of victim-blaming
posted by homunculus at 6:09 PM on August 14, 2011


Thanks for keeping the links coming!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:56 PM on August 14, 2011


I have some difficulty even dealing with the "risky behaviors" argument. It still locates responsibility for the rape with the victim. Correlated behaviors - sure, important to study. But there is absolutely no inherent risk in these behaviors (drinking, being out late) in the absence of an assaulter. I'm not even sure "risk factors" is useful terminology. The behavioral focus on "risk" in which we look at the likelihood of a behavior "leading to" a result implies a causation on the part of victims that I'm not sure is there. Why don't we look at the risk factors for becoming a rapist? Why the almost exclusive focus on victim behavior?

Presumably, drinking or doing drugs is also a behavior assaulters engage in. So we should probably discourage men from drinking and doing drugs, because it may disinhibit them and make them more likely to become assaulters or rapists - right? Their drinking is a "risky behavior" which makes them more likely to commit rape. That seems to be uncontroversial.

This short Wikipedia entry makes for interesting reading. It's worth asking: why do we continue to look at the behavior of victims as a causal factor "leading to" the result of assault, instead of looking at the behavior of assailants?
Factors increasing men's risk of committing rape include alcohol and other drug consumption, being more likely to consider victims responsible for their rape, being less knowledgeable about the impact of rape on victims, being impulsive and having antisocial tendencies, having an exaggerated sense of masculinity, having a low opinion on women, being a member of a criminal gang, having sexually aggressive friends, having been abused as a child and having been raised in a strongly patriarchal family.
So, just as rationally, we could propose that men should avoid drinking or doing drugs, because it's a risk factor for raping; should avoid considering victims responsible for their rape; should be thoroughly educated on the issue of rape and its impact on victims; should act less impulsively; should be better socialized to reduce antisocial tendencies; should not be encouraged to develop an exaggerated sense of masculinity; should be encouraged to develop high opinions of women; should avoid getting involved in criminal gangs; and should be careful about who they spend leisure time around and avoid sexually agressive friends. We should work to eliminate child abuse and should certainly reconfigure the patriarchal family.

Now, all that should really minimize some of those risk factors. And a world featuring fewer of the "risky behaviors" of exaggerated masculinity, patriarchy, victim blaming, abuse, dismissal of women, and male drinking and drug use sounds pretty good to me.
posted by Miko at 5:42 AM on August 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


There's a great Camille Paglia quote I'd dig up if I wasn't so busy today. Basically she said spoilt white girls who have never had a real job get all worked up about this. The average female from the school of hard knocks has a much better understanding of where to direct their "OUTRAGE!"

Fuck Camille Paglia. I don't have a college education and I've worked blue collar jobs my entire life. I'm over 30. Everything I've ever learned about feminism was by teaching myself and learning street-level feminism through the school of hard knocks. I don't have any degrees, I don't have the kind of ego that compels me to get headlines by trashing other women's lives and writing books full of bunk theories and pretending that I'm some kind of post-feminist libertarian voice of the people. She's full of shit. I don't need a degree to know that.

I've been raped and I was sexually abused as a child. I know exactly where to direct my outrage, thank you very much. And it's sure as shit not at myself for not being able to stop my uncle from forcing me to do things no child should ever have to endure. It's also not at myself for not being physically strong enough to fight off my rapist.

Neither she nor you have any business telling me where I need to direct my outrage. I will never, ever, ever in a thousand, million, billion years blame any woman (or man, or child) for being raped. I will always, always blame the rapist and I will always blame people like you and Camille Paglia for perpetuating rape culture. You encourage the attitude that rapists need not accept responsibility for their actions. Start telling rapists not to rape and then get back to me.
posted by i feel possessed at 12:29 AM on August 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fuck Camille Paglia.

This actually made me chuckle. I honestly haven't heard anyone mention her name seriously in 20 years. She had a momentary flash of fame, won by making intentionally provocative statements, but she's not an important thinker - has little to say, publishes very slowly, not a great writer. It's funny to even see her brought up, it's like I was suddenly whiplashed into 1990.
posted by Miko at 6:25 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


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