Growing up, my grandmother would always remind me, “Dress properly, like a lady. Don’t show your cleavage or legs, that’s why rapes happen.”
Women, just like myself, grew up thinking that their clothing generate a man’s interest in wanting to have sex with them or worse, rape them. But what is mind boggling is knowing that if there is truth in this, then is it safe to assume that women who cover every inch of their bodies with clothing do not get raped? Should we all wear clothings that cover our bodies thoroughly and then only would we become safe?
Unfortunately, we know that that is not true. In 2008, a school girl was raped despite wearing her baju kurung uniform; clothing that is considered conservative and not one bit sexy. A group then suggested that it was her white baju kurung top that made the rapist rape her because it was “sexy” and “a tool to allure men” which is obviously bull crap [source].
Thankfully and unsurprisingly, not everybody agree with their statement. In fact, there was such a huge uproar in the country regarding that shallow statement – read articles on The Star and Thaindian.
Some of the many comments.
The Star article
One male teacher even suggested that instead of debating the sexiness of the uniform, more focus should be directed towards male self-control.
“She (the speaker of the group) should carry out a study and see if our school uniform is indeed a factor that contributes to rape and pre-marital sex,” she said.
“Statistics and research has shown that all women – young, old, women clad in tudung (headscarf), miniskirts, even babies in diapers – have been victims of rape and sexual assault.
It is entirely irresponsible for anyone to suggest the idea that rape is a result of attire. Rape is not about attire, it’s about power that perpetrators feel they have over their victims,” Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said.
There you go. And if that’s not enough to convince you that rapists do not select their victims through their clothing, here are some Rape Myths and Facts.
Myth: Women provoke sexual assault by their appearance. Sexual attractiveness is a primary reason why a rapist selects a victim.
Fact: Rapists do not select their victims by their appearance. They select victims who are vulnerable and accessible. Victims of sexual assault range in age groups from infants to the elderly. Sexual attractiveness is not an issue.
Myth: If a woman really did not want to be raped, she could fight off her attacker.
Fact: Even if the rapist is not carrying a weapon, the element of surprise, shock, and fear, or the threat of harm can overpower a survivor.
I remember that one time when I went to a safety talk on avoiding rapes and pre-meditated dangers. I was told that psychopathic rapists choose their victims if their victims resembled someone they used to like but was rejected or made fun off. Because of accumulated anger, they would then rape that person and then may choose on killing their victims afterwards.
What made me want to talk about this issue is because of a post on Rookie Mag by Lori, ‘How We Dressed Does Not Mean Yes‘ (a must read) where she gave a report on the recent SlutWalk march in NYC. When I first read the name SlutWalk, all I had in my brain were sluts walking around promoting slut culture, which is exactly what it is, but not really.
SlutWalk which began in Toronto, Canada on April 2011 (it’s very new) is a march against sexualized violence; to fight the idea that what women wear, what they drink or how they behave can make them a target of rape [source]. SlutWalk began when a Toronto officer said that “…women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.” [source] The movement has since blossomed to become a worldwide phenomenon with satellite branches slowly booming in various parts of the world.
While scrolling down the list of satellites, I was pleasantly surprised to know that the closest SlutWalk branch in this part of the region is in our very own backyard; SlutWalk Singapore x Kuala Lumpur (SlutWalkSGKL) which, by the way, is organizing a march this coming 3rd and 4th December in Singapore. How I wish I could be a part of it.
Although women were told to wear everyday outfit for the march, many women from previous SlutWalk events chose to wear provocative outfits and present their in-your-face messages in order to be heard. I guess, if you want to be heard, the only way is to get their attention. Fuck subtle approaches.
The recent SlutWalk NYC. [Source]
SlutWalk Toronto [Source]
But of course, not many are fans of the so-called new feminist movement. No surprise there.
I, myself, despite understanding the whole objective behind SlutWalk and am completely for it, find it hard to swallow the whole ‘slut’ idea. Perhaps it is my Asian conservative side speaking, or perhaps, it is the validation by some feminists saying that the whole movement is not moving women forward, but instead, only pulling us back. Are we really moving forward if we choose to parade and celebrate the patriarchal label ‘slut’ and hoping to change its meaning of degrading women by making it into a positive tone?
“Women need to find ways to create their own authentic sexuality, outside of male-defined terms like slut.” – SlutWalk Is Not Sexual Liberation, Guardian UK.
According to an article by Jessica Valenti titled “Slutwalks and the Future of Feminism“, some women argued that the terms ‘slut’ and ‘sluttiness’ “resonates with younger women in part because they are more likely than their older counterparts to be called sluts”. Well, studies have shown that women ages 16-24 have 4 times higher risk of being raped than any other population group, but I don’t think that ‘slut’ is the appropriate term to be used just because younger women are more likely to identify themselves as sluts. Being in this 16-24 category, I don’t see myself identifying myself as a slut or even want to be identified as a slut.
There are also those who said that SlutWalk is an act of idiocy where women are told not to be held responsible at all for their own actions if they themselves engaged in a two-way non-consensual sex. An example of a two-way non-consensual sex is when both parties got drunk and had drunk sex.
The author questioned whether it is really fair to say that the guy who the girl had drunk sex with is a rapist when both of them were drunk out of their brains. Is he a rapist when he left the girl alone after the non-consensual sex just because he got too freaked out to wait for her to wake up for he, just like her, had engaged in an unwanted sex.
Really though, I am confused as fuck as to who to support.
After doing so much research on both sides; supporting and opposing sides, I probably can conclude that, yes, SlutWalk does send out a positive message and it’s objectives are amazing. It gives voices to women who for years have been oppressed by these accusations that it is them who asked for it because of how they dress and present themselves, when we know that that is total bullshit.
But at the same time, we also realize that ever since the birth of SlutWalk, there have been a vast interest in promoting the Slut Culture and acceptance of the the idea that it is okay to dress as, well, sluts; a term long coined by the patriarchal society to look down on women who chose to exercise sexual freedom. I guess it’s the whole, “if you can’t fight it, join it” sort of idea which made its founders want to celebrate the term ‘slut’.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against women who have the sexual desires of a man. Hey, I for one think that Samantha from Sex and the City and Jennifer Aniston’s character in Horrible Bosses are gods. I think it’s wicked amazing that they have a sexual appetite of a man and are comfortable with their own sexualities, but at the same time, I can’t ignore the fact that the term slut is somewhat cringe-worthy.
But still, everyone has their own opinions. This is just mine ;)
So tell me readers, SlutWalk… Yay or nay?