Back in January, at York University in Toronto (coincidently, my alma mater), a police officer advised women to avoid “dressing like sluts” in order to prevent rape. It sparked an uproar, and the officer later apologized. But it didn’t end there: Marches called “SlutWalks” have sprung up around the globe in protest. According to CNN:
A number of protests have already taken place in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, with Britain set to stage events in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff. On SlutWalk London’s Facebook page, over 5,500 people have said they plan to take part in the rally in Hyde Park on June 4.
Most recently in Boston, some 2,000 women took to the streets for their own SlutWalk. Sean Hannity covered the event on his Fox News program Monday, speaking with Rebecca St. James and Tamara Holder about the officer’s original remarks and the public response.
In her comments, St. James agreed that rape is never the victim’s fault… then went on to add that women who dress provocatively are “asking for sex.” An appalled Holder responded by saying that dressing like a sexual object is absolutely fine and should have nothing at all to do with conversations about rape.
Both women miss the point.
St. James is placing responsibility on women, and she’s right that racy dress brings less respect from men. But the truth is, many young women today don’t understand what modesty even means. They’ve grown up in a culture that encourages 12-year-old girls to dress provocatively — and while the extremes may be clear, what falls between is not. Yes, young women often seek male attention in the way they dress and behave, but not a single one of them wants to be abused.
And Holder’s response is no better. While blaming rape on women and the way they dress is clearly wrong, Holder also naively thinks that what you project to the outside world has no ramifications. This is where liberal feminism is today: Women demand respect from men, yet they have no idea what it means to respect themselves. Holder doesn’t seem to understand that even if “no means no,” a “no” from a woman who is dressed provocatively and acting immodestly loses its power.
It’s a topsy-turvy world we live in when we respond to the crime of rape by focusing on women’s clothing and holding parades proclaiming our “slut-hood.”