Monday, June 2, 2014

It's Not About the Clothing

“Girls, you need to be modest in your appearance so you don’t cause boys to have impure thoughts. They can’t control what they think, so you have to help them."  

This is what a very nice, very bright lady told Snark Girl’s 5th grade class last year.  It’s that type of attitude that causes rape culture. The idea that boys and men are base animals, unable to control their own thoughts and behaviors, easily distracted and thus unable to function. The idea that girls and women are responsible for being harassed, assaulted, and raped because they wore a dress that was shorter than fingertip length, or they wore leggings, or they wore a tank top. 


Rape doesn’t occur because of the way a woman is dressed. Rape occurs because there is a lack of respect on the part of the rapist toward their victim.

I was raped in college.

I was not dressed provocatively. I was wearing a very baggy men’s sweatshirt and sweatpants with athletic socks.

I was asked, by the athletic department, to help the guy with his English Literature assignment. I was not supposed to be forced to give him a blowjob while he sat on my chest and pinned my arms down with his legs.

I screamed no. While I could.

I struggled. He was more than twice my weight and was a full foot taller than I.

I later found out from his sister, he had been raping female students for four years because no one spoke up. She even said, “Well, didn’t you know that “helping” him is code for having sex with him?” No, no I did not.  That faint accusation that I should have known better is part of the reason I haven’t spoken of this in almost 20 years.

A mutual male friend “forced” my attacker to apologize to me. The apology went something like this: “Uh, yeah, sorry if I upset you. I thought you wanted it. When you said no, I just thought it was a game and that you liked it rough. I mean, what girl WOULDN’T want ME?”  

He didn’t have enough respect for me to ASK me.

He didn’t have enough respect for me to BELIEVE that no meant no.

It’s time to STOP this idea that boys need help not to be plagued by impure thoughts.

It’s time to STOP this idea that girls are in charge of the behavior and thoughts of anyone but themselves. 

It’s time to STOP teaching boys that it’s okay to disrespect a girl because she is wearing anything less than a burka.

It’s time to STOP teaching girls that they cannot express themselves via their attire or dance because some boy might get the wrong idea. 


IT IS TIME to teach ALL of our children that there will always be distractions – another person, music, etc. – but they must learn to focus through those distractions and achieve their goals while behaving as civilized members of society.

IT IS TIME to teach ALL of our children (and adults yet to learn this) that they should RESPECT ALL of their fellow human beings, regardless of how that fellow human is dressed or behaving.