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