Victim-blaming & the need to create positive space

Standard

It’s time to kill the absurd idea that a woman is to blame for being sexually assaulted because she was “inviting it” or “asking for it” by her choice of clothing.

Civilized gentlemen are polite and civilized regardless of what the woman is or isn’t wearing.

And dangerous creeps will be dangerous and creepy regardless of what the woman is or isn’t wearing.

We had this same debate in 1870 about exposed ankles and wrists. It came back a few decades later about visible forearms. Then necklines. Then shins. It happened again when skirt hemlines crossed the kneecap, then when they crossed the thigh, then again when women’s swimsuits split into two small pieces instead of one big piece, and we’re having it again now that it’s becoming acceptable for women to dress the same as men at Canadian and American beaches, pools and parks. #FreeTheNipple is just the logical, inevitable continuation of a “my body, my decision” idea that’s been developing for a century and a half. None of the previous incremental improvements in gender equality have led to Earth-shattering crises. Rather, they’ve had quite the opposite effect, with societies that embrace gender equality being generally safer, wealthier, more successful, more productive and more free than those that are lagging behind on this front.

It turns out that, despite the fear-mongering that comes up every time the gender equality movement makes a bit of progress, civilized men are quite capable of controlling their impulses. They don’t automatically jump into “rape mode” upon seeing a scantily- or un-clad woman. Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence to show that as we get closer to complete gender equality, the rate of sexual offences drops off dramatically.

The few men who do commit sexual assaults do so because they have a badly distorted sense of right and wrong. They need help, they need education, and they need the strong arm of the law to put them in their place when they risk crossing the line. All of society needs to make it abundantly clear to these men that such conduct is not justifiable and not acceptable.

We will have succeeded in this effort when a woman can stroll naked through a city park at night, confident that the men in the vicinity – including those in uniform – will behave as respectful, civilized gentlemen. (Not that we expect many women to actually stroll naked through the park at night; the important thing is that we create conditions such that any woman would feel safe doing so if she wished.)

We have a long way to go – and it’s not just men who need attitude adjustments; there are also women out there who are actively sabotaging the drive for equality via “slut shaming” and other unethical conduct. But we’ll get there, eventually.

Positive, supportive, welcoming spaces and cultures don’t happen by accident, they happen by design. They happen when, one person at a time, we make the conscious decision to base our own lives – and our interactions with others – on the kind of values that lead to a better society.

By Matt of KFFBS

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Victim-blaming & the need to create positive space

  1. Women (and children) are sexually assaulted daily around the world because while “Civilized men are quite capable of controlling their impulses. The few men who do commit sexual assaults do so because they have a badly distorted sense of right and wrong” continue to do so.

    This will always be the case, at least until science can identify these men ahead of time and deprive them of their rights because they MIGHT act. After they act is too late. This won’t happen soon, and to think that permitting women (or men for that matter) to run around naked publicly without consequence is unreasonably optimistic.

    As we’ve seen in those places where topfreedom or even total nudity is LEGALLY allowed, few people take advantage of it for some very good reasons. Those who do have some sort of agenda and don’t do so just because it feels good. They have a ’cause’ that overrides adherence to social convention and, sometimes, common sense. It’s dangerous to be nude in America (or most places). Women get harassed or worse; men get on a sex offender list.

    Whilst we applaud those who promote the lessening of anti-nudity restrictions, we are not so blind as to think that the problem with men as described above will magically disappear should public nudity in any form ever be permitted. A little reality must intrude.

    The creeps will remain until the last vestiges of personal opinion and behavior have been taken under control, one way or another. Society has found throughout history that it is far easier to control harmless ‘deviots’ such as ourselves than it is to control the truly dangerous among us. Thus, even if we get our ‘rights’, there will still be little possibility that those who would prey on us will ever be controlled.

    ‘Naked’ on Google: 137,000,000 results and mostly porn
    ‘Nudist’ on Google: 10,400,000 results and mostly porn
    ‘Naturist on Google” 2,400,000 results less porn, but plenty

    You get the idea. Many, many folks seek nudity for sexual reasons. We may eventually change some laws, but millions of folks worldwide will still see nudity as an invitation to sex. It will be a very long time before our grandchildren, or theirs, can feel comfortable walking down the street without thinking about their nudity.

    This is why our mainstream nudist clubs, camps resorts exist; they are places where folks who like being nude among others who are also unquestioning about that ‘weird’ lifestyle. That’s what mainstream social nudism is about: a means to be comfortable without worrying about how the rest of the world sees us.

    The walls around our camps and resorts aren’t there to keep us in; they’re there to keep those others OUT.

    “We will have succeeded in this effort when a woman can stroll naked through a city park at night.”

    If that’s the goal, we have a long way to go. In most places, though perfectly legal it’s not safe for a woman to walk through a park at night fully clothed, let alone naked! Dreams are nice, but practical solutions are much more valuable. We need to seek those, not pipe-dreams.

    All-Nudist.com is dedicated to promoting mainstream social nudism, and though we share a lot of information about the various interpretations of that, the fact remains that we need to support our remaining local clubs and camps in order to preserve a safe place for us to enjoy our wholeome lifestyle. No creeps, no pervs, no folks of questionable motives.

    The future will be what it will, but the problem is, we just can’t trust it. Protect our backups, folks!

    http://www.all-nudist.com/camps-parks-and-resorts.html

    Like

    • The issue here is not public nudity. We’re not trying to push any agenda on that front, and I don’t really expect it to become the norm anytime soon. Nor do I expect any women to actually stroll naked through urban parks at night.

      The issue is victim-blaming and public safety. A woman should feel safe – and be safe – in public, regardless of what she chooses to wear. Holding out an extreme example of that simply serves to illustrate how bad the situation is right now. If the woman in this hypothetical scenario were attacked, it would in fact be 100% the fault of the attacker – but how many of us, including those in uniform, would incorrectly assign some of the blame to the victim?

      There are large subsets of Canadian culture where these issues have been completely solved, and sexual assault is non-existent. This was achieved through education and the promotion of positive values, not through a “minority report” style police dystopia. We can achieve the same results across all of society, if enough people want it to be so.

      Most of us have to function as part of regular society for 98% of the year. It is nice to have known safe places to retreat to when desired, but we also need to feel safe and secure in our everyday lives.

      -M-

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not meaning to be argumentative here, but there IS a difference between what OUGHT to be and what IS. “A woman should feel safe – and be safe – in public, regardless of what she chooses to wear.” Absolutely, in a perfect world. But ‘should’ be? By what standard other than wishful thinking?

    Laws have never protected anyone, nor have ‘rights’. Reality is what counts, and the reality is that if I walk through a bad neighborhood with hundred dollar bills sticking out of my pockets, should I not expect problems? ‘Blame’ isn’t really the issue; personal responsibility is. No one can protect anyone else and a certain amount of self-awareness and intelligence is in order.

    That’s where the ‘blame’ comes in; the average person just cannot fathom why some folks deliberately put themselves into danger knowing full well that they are doing so. Whether it be the woman in the park or me with my money; at some point we have to face the truth that the world is a crappy place and act accordingly. Most folks have little sympathy for those who foolishly put themselves in harm’s way, unless they’re soldiers intent on killing someone else first.

    We’re not defending that attitude, just elucidating it. It’s human nature to blame folks for their lapses in judgement even if those lapses are paid for in a dreadful way. The ‘she’s a slut’ angle is surely there, but not the main reason why so little sympathy is elicited. It’s more a, ‘She was stupid and paid for it’ sentiment. Seriously agenda-driven people cannot see the difference.

    We had a judge here several years ago that made the ‘dressing like a slut’ comment in a rape trial and to the credit of our community he was voted out of office in a special recall election! Not all of us are as judgemental as he was. Or maybe we’re just politically correct. But then again, she was dressed, um, provocatively in a bad place at a bad time. Nothing is black and white.

    Does she have the RIGHT? Surely. Was what happened to her surprising considering the reputation of the area? Not at all. Was it right, did she deserve it? No, she didn’t. But she WAS stupid, and ya can’t stop people from seeing the obvious.

    You talk about subsets of Canadian culture where things work well; social nudism is a similar subset and both are the exceptions that prove the rule. We are a rare breed, and to expect our concepts of behavior and social morality to be embraced by the majority is wishful thinking. The majority of our fellow citizens are one seriously messed up lot, and the prisons are full of those even farther off the mark.

    That’s not going to change anytime soon, short of a Second Coming. Even then… They crucified Him rather than learning a message of love and tolerance…

    We can try, and dream, but reinforcing our existing opportunities must remain our top priority, plus education. When all else is lost, that’s all we’ll have left to us.

    Like

    • I certainly don’t advocate knowingly going into dangerous situations without taking appropriate precautions. Situational awareness is always important.

      The problem here is that women are sexually assaulted in situations that *should* be safe – university dorms, social clubs, campus sidewalks – and there is a segment of society, including some members of the police, that responds with “well, if she had been more careful, dressed more conservatively, stayed out of that area, it wouldn’t have happened”.

      This is not OK.

      It’s not OK that a non-negligible number of young men are being brought up to think that women can be treated this way.

      It’s not OK that most sexual assaults go unreported to the police, apparently because victims fear being judged, blamed and dragged through hoops without ever seeing justice.

      Society as a whole has an obligation to solve this. We are part of society, therefore we are partially responsible for the solution. Providing a safe space (which we do) is part of that, but we must also emphasize the values that we want to see reflected in the world around us.

      -M-

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s