Unspoken Rules for Women
Posted October 16, 2011on:
There was an interesting article posted on Jezebel about the messed up rules for women in this country (well actually for the United States but whatever). The part of the article that I found the most interesting was the contradictory rules of being sexy and available at all times but also being at fault for being “too sexy” when one gets sexually assaulted. It’s a contradiction that I’ve attempted to explain to many people and something that I’ve been thinking about for a while.
It’s interesting to think about sexiness and sexual assault in other contexts. For instance, in much of the Muslim world women are exclusively at fault for rape or assault and are told quite explicitly that they need to dress ultra modestly to prevent rape. I mean it’s completely messed up but at least it is logically consistent as far as it goes. I think much of the religious movement in the U.S. falls in line to this sort of thinking as well. I base this on the strict codes of modesty that I have observed in some religious Christian populations but it’s harder to really generalize as I’ve seen many counter examples to this as well. The solution, really, is to separate the connection between sexually provocative behaviour and rape. In other words sexual assault is not a crime passion (ie. lack of impulse control) but rather is a crime of violence and power. Time and time again scientists have found that such a connection just does not exist.
But let’s just say that there was a connection. What would change? Would it be appropriate in that situation to police women’s clothing choices? The philosophy of our political and social system is essentially live and let live. Someone who is assaults you is pretty much violating the “let live” portion of the social contract. A women dressing or acting provocatively is not. In other words, she did nothing wrong and if we start policing people’s completely non-violent behaviour and personal choices we are in a very dangerous situation.
Just one final thought on this topic. What if a person’s revealing clothing is offensive to another person, is that a violation of the “let live” portion of the social contract? My answer is a resounding “No!”. Restricting another individual’s personal choices in order to prevent another person’s fragile psyche from being offended is far too high a price to pay especially considering that anyone could be offended by anything.
If more people could get on board with the connection between victim blaming and assaults on personal freedom in general we may finally change the conversation and stop the revictimization of rape survivors. I think that is one of the biggest moral issues of our society.