Wednesday, 22 June 2011

we've come a long way... or have we?


It's gone viral:
'it' is the reaction to the rather unfortunate and ill-advised remarks of a Canadian police officer to a group of female students concerning personal security on campus - 'don't dress like sluts'.  His comments have provoked a series of protest walks in various cities around the world, including our own staid and demure Edinburgh.

The so-called 'slut walks' are aimed at not only reclaiming the word 'slut', but to remind society that the responsibility for being raped should not be thrown back on the victim, but rather on to the perpetrator.
'I couldn't help myself',
'she was asking for it in that outfit/ being out at that time of night/ being in that kind of place.'
Er, wrong.
Nobody actually asks to be raped.
Surely it's high time we as a society got beyond that ludicrous nonsense?
It both perpetuates the women as 'virgin/whore' stereotype and also does an utter disservice to all men by insinuating that they are immature cavemen unable to take responsibility for themselves.

Simply put: rape will stop when those who think that rape is acceptable no longer think it is; who take responsibility for their actions by deciding not to act on impulse.
It won't stop by perpetuating misinformed caricatures of women, by blaming those who are the victims, by creating a psychological atmosphere which virtually imprisons them within their homes - neither to be seen or heard.

We've come a long way from the early feminist fights for equal rights.  How far really, however?
There is something incredibly bizarre, something utterly wrong with a system, when a victim of an attack is subsequently victimised by the system and not the attacker re. their behaviour.
There is something rather obscene about this second stage institutional rape that happens to too many who are brave enough to actually report the crime.  Until it is deemed both unacceptable and reprehensible for defence lawyers to use the 'she was wearing that outfit/ she was walking alone at night/ let's examine her past sexual history', I suggest that we haven't moved too far at all...

1 comment:

Ruth said...

I thought the Slutwalks were a great idea and signed up immediately to their Facebook page. But now I keep hearing people saying that women dressing like sluts on a protest march is not helping the cause at all. I'm torn. I reckon it is all about drawing attention to the cause so understandable. What do you think?