Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Why Clothes Don’t Equal Rape – A reply to Maureen Messent

This was first posted here.  Thanks to @sonsiekat for permission to cross post.

Someone was kind enough to comment on a previous post saying that I write in a calm and coherent way about feminism, “a topic that gets people a bit defensive”. I do try to avoid angry writing, because I’m keen to banish the stereotype that feminists are a bunch of angry, frothing-at-the mouth manhaters.

However. As a feminist (never mind that, as a human), I sometimes encounter viewpoints so jaw-droppingly awful, that they provoke a visceral response. My two sure-fire routes to rage are 1) when people blame victims of sexual assault for their clothes/drinking alcohol and 2) when women bare their snarky claws and undermine other women. As I checked the news on my phone this morning,  I had a delightful taste of both: a steaming pile of victim blaming, served up a deluded female journalist, Maureen Messent.

This article is the most deluded and hateful pile of crap I’ve seen this week, and that includes Nick Griffin’s Twitter feed. The contemptible human who wrote it manages, in only about 300 words, to undermine both men and women – all of humanity, in fact. In her twisted view of the world, women need to dress conservatively and not drink – otherwise, men (i.e. half of the humaity) will predatorily pursue and sexually assault them.

I apparently have a much higher opinion of men in general than this woman, since I believe the vast majority of men out there are civilised human beings, capable of speaking to a woman in a tight dress without raping and pillaging her. The idea that women have to dress defensively, sartorially fending off an attack, is so breathtakingly insulting to men. It implies that instead of being rational people with their own thoughts and opinions, they are drooling gorillas, panting after then physically attacking first woman who walks past in a short skirt.

A male student friend of mine was robbed of his phone walking back from the student union recently. He was alone, late at night, had had a few drinks. When he reported this crime, the police and no-one else said to him “alone late at night, were you? Bit drunk? Well if you were drinking, that diminishes the responsibility of the man who robbed you. You should have taken better care of yourself”.  The same logic applies to all victims of crime. Robbers, rapists, criminals of all kinds are on the look-out for an opportunity. So if a rapist is combing a bar looking for someone vulnerable, that means he’s a predator. It does not mean the victim (or intended victim) deserves to be raped.

Last summer, I was out for dinner and drinks with a friend when a man came up behind me in a bar and grabbed me by the vagina.  I was wearing  black jeans and a blouse, a bit see-through. I bought this blouse because it was similar to the one Lana del Rey wears on the front cover of her album Born to Die, and I thought it looked nice. My buying and wearing this blouse does not diminish the crime of the man who grabbed me.  Maureen Messent would like to suggest, to me and other victims of more serious sexual assault, that this is my fault. Sorry Maureen, but I have this radical view whereby I think people who commit rapes are rapists, and the people who are raped are victims. Also, way to go, Maureen,  for validating  the small amount of men who commit these crimes. Because as long as idiots like you continue to publically blame victims of sexual assault, these predators are self-justified in their attacks.

“Of course there are sadistic men who leap from nowhere on sober and soberly-dressed virgins returning from evensong, but the majority – the vast majority – of women know their assailants.” – Maureen Messent

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One thought on “Why Clothes Don’t Equal Rape – A reply to Maureen Messent

  • betty says:

    I am intrigued by this line of thinking re clothes and ‘asking for it’. With the horrendous india bus rape it seemed the whole world was up in arms about that sort of backward thinking, but we have it right here, on our home soil. Shame on people who believe that anyone other than rapists are responsible for rape. Shame on them all.