With luck, “Slut Walks” will be coming to a city near you!

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Women are holding protests called “Slut Walks” in reaction to a comment made by a Toronto cop to the effect that they should alter their style of dress to reduce the likelihood of rape.

I like seeing this kind uproar.  I think the sexual revolution burned out way too soon and a lot was left unfinished.  One of the attitudes that remains quite strong is that women owe it to their sex and society in general to avoid the appearance of an “unladylike” enthusiasm for sexual adventurism and by not doing so, they are fair game for insult (or worse) and have only themselves to blame.

Just as the drug war violates our natural right to control what we put into our own bodies, women live under a myriad of laws and attitudes that trample their right to control their own bodies when it comes to sex and nudity.

Not only did that cop’s comment insult women, it also impinged on men because we are a major beneficiary of the beauty of women’s fashions  Personally, I do not interpret the terms “provocative” or “slutty looking” as negative (and if I ever do, you can just bury me because I’m already dead).

The idea that women have a responsibility to dress conservatively so as not to excite men is precisely the same kind of idiocy we see violently enforced in some Muslim counties.    In deciding what to wear, a woman has only one authority to answer to and that is herself.

[Posted by Dave Krueger]


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91 Responses to “With luck, “Slut Walks” will be coming to a city near you!”

  1. #1 |  Gretchen | 

    @48 I mean if I were to say something about a woman’s dress and behavior before something happened, I might be accused of “slut shaming” and all those other kind words designed to shut people up.

    And rightly so. Here’s a thought– don’t say things about a woman’s dress. It’s not helpful. There’s no evidence that they will be more protected from sexual assault if they take your dubious advice. Women go out at night in all kinds of stages of undress, and it doesn’t affect their likelihood of being assaulted at all. What matters is how drunk they get, around whom, whom they go home with, etc. And expressing concern about those things doesn’t sound like slut shaming– it sounds like caring, because that’s what it is.

    @45I believe in the concept of comparative liability (the concept – the application of said concept gets murky). It seems crimes are rarely 100%/0%. Often, I find them to be 90%/10% or 70%/30%. Perhaps the drug dealer wouldn’t have been robbed if he wasn’t dealing drugs and keeping large amounts of cash on hand. The same logic absolutely applies to some rapes.

    It absolutely doesn’t. An example of a situation in which both parties share responsibility would be a fist fight. An altercation in which one party doesn’t aggress on the other in any way whatsoever does not qualify.

  2. #2 |  Gretchen | 

    Helpful: “Do you have a safe way to get home tonight? Do you need a ride?”
    Slut shaming: “You look like a ho in that dress, just asking to be raped.”

    It’s really not that hard.

  3. #3 |  Mike T | 

    #13: I’m right there with you, assuming anybody has actually established a link between dressing “provocatively” and being assaulted. Not everybody carries a lot of cash with them, so wearing a suit of $100 bills makes you stand out from the crowd to a prospective mugger. I don’t think it takes a miniskirt and halter top to let a rapist know that a woman does in fact have a vagina.

    It’s not as much about dress as it is behavior. A woman who behaves like she is sexually available around men she doesn’t genuinely want to pursue her is asking for trouble. A woman who goes home from a party with a man with whom she really doesn’t want to have sex is taking a substantially higher risk of being raped than one who gets in a taxi or has a friend drive her home.

    I don’t know why this concept is so hard for a group that prides itself on intelligence and rationality. It should be obvious that if your actions say one thing and your actual intent is something else, you increase your risk of an undesirable action occurring to you.

    Or as Vox Day recently put it:

    The reason the slut-walk is ludicrously counter-productive is because encouraging more women to dress and act in a provocative manner in public places is literally asking for more rape and sexual assault. The slut-walkers are daring men to respond to their provocations, and there can be no question that the predatory part of the male population will be quite pleased to do so at the earliest opportunity. Just as you don’t teach a tiger to stop devouring steak by continuously waving a bloody t-bone in front of it, you can’t encourage rapists not to rape by appealing to their visual senses. Even animals understand that an effective way to avoid becoming prey is to not look like prey, so it is remarkable that feminists have managed to functionally lobotomize themselves to such an extent that they are now operating below the level of lower animal intelligence.

  4. #4 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #47: Actually, Dave, I’ve never once met a whore of the non-streetwalker variety who dressed remotely as provocatively as girls going “clubbing” these days. Most escorts dress conservatively and indeed, some of the stupider sort of client find this disappointing.

    To all: The fact that Gail Dines (a major anti-porn feminist) and Wendy Murphy (a “rape is a tool of the Patriarchy” feminist) are against Slut Walks (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/08/slutwalk-not-sexual-liberation) is more than enough reason for me to endorse the protests. These are women who are so against women’s sexual freedom anything they dislike MUST have some good in it.

  5. #5 |  dhex | 

    a lot of you guys don’t live in a place with a robust street harassment culture. spend some time in nyc in the summer.

  6. #6 |  Mike T | 

    a lot of you guys don’t live in a place with a robust street harassment culture. spend some time in nyc in the summer.

    Pffft, that’s nothing. Do your slut walk in downtown Johannesburg in the middle of the summer.

  7. #7 |  Mike T | 

    These are women who are so against women’s sexual freedom anything they dislike MUST have some good in it.

    And the enemy of my enemy is friend…

  8. #8 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #54 Maggie McNeill

    #47: Actually, Dave, I’ve never once met a whore of the non-streetwalker variety who dressed remotely as provocatively as girls going “clubbing” these days. Most escorts dress conservatively and indeed, some of the stupider sort of client find this disappointing.

    I’m mostly familiar with the stereotypical street walkers because they’re out in the open and tend to accost anyone who looks like they are sexually deprived (precisely the kind of look I was born with).

    But, I understand your point that not all prostitutes fit the typical slutty looking stereotype.

  9. #9 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    After some thinking, I’m going to have to side with people looking sexy rather than not looking sexy.

  10. #10 |  Libby Jacobson | 

    Dave, I’m so, so happy you wrote about this (so I didn’t have to write an 800-word ranty post). :)

  11. #11 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dIv47EnCaQ

    8 minute talk from a Slut Walk. It makes the issues pretty clear.

  12. #12 |  M. Steve | 

    My major issue with Slutwalks is that they ostensibly derive from the idea that “women should be able to dress however they want without being raped” (clearly, and that judge is a moron to boot), but then the tone of the event seems to veer into “women should be able to do whatever they want and suffer no consequences at all, socially or morally”. When people start conflating “misogyny” with “risk management” (i.e., not drinking to inebriation, not accepting rides from strange men, etc.), my bullshit-o-meter starts ringing off the charts.

    I’ll be honest: I’m not “sex-positive”. I mean, yeah, I think sex is great, but I also think it’s something to be shared in stable, monogamous relationships (of any gender combination). In my opinion, socially-sanctioned promiscuity is an absolute danger to the family unit.

    To me, it’s a libertarian issue: the fact of the matter is, *someone* has to raise children, and there are pretty much two options: the family unit, or the State. If you are against the latter, then you must work socially to support the former. (Of course, I’d lay wager that plenty of the Slutwalk attendees are proponents of some flavor of Marxism, so they probably are unconcerned with such an outcome.)

  13. #13 |  Gretchen | 

    Comments like Mike T’s make me wonder if it were better if all women were indistinguishable from prostitutes, because then at least there would be an understanding that sex is an agreement as payment is involved.

    That’s a very dark thought, but that’s where the frank assertion that women who dress a certain way are asking for it will take you…

  14. #14 |  dhex | 

    Pffft, that’s nothing. Do your slut walk in downtown Johannesburg in the middle of the summer.

    like i said, i don’t think you get it – it’s not uncommon to watch men walk behind women (dressed professionally, unprofessionally, or otherwise) for half a block or more. if you ask someone “man, what’s the deal with that shit? does that ever work?” they look at you like you’ve got three heads.

    of course it doesn’t work (i.e. result in a date) because it’s got nothing to do with that. it’s got nothing to do with what someone’s wearing and everything to do with this “i can’t help it, i’m a man/did you see what she was wearing?”* excuse for what is an act of aggression.

    * weakest of the weaksauce

  15. #15 |  demize! | 

    #24 that is determined by how attractive the “leery” finds the “leerer”. These semiotics are so subtle and amorphous that it really can’t be described in anything other than an ad hoc basis.

  16. #16 |  Peter | 

    @33: What planet do you live on? Your “unacceptable” is what the vast majority of heterosexual men think though most wouldn’t admit outside the veil of full veil anonymity.

    @63: The only way they are distinguishable now is one admits to taking your money and actually give you what you pay for while the other just takes it.

    I have followed this conversation on a couple blogs and #13 nailed it. Also the issue we have here is the semantic muddling of the word rape in the past couple decades. I think we all agree that true rape, per book definition, isn’t sexual in nature but we don’t have an easy word for “violent sexual assault” that conveys the same feeling as “rape”. I think we can ALL agree that violent sexual assault is dependent on sexual factors and you are more likely to get sexual assaulted if you dress like a whore. Go walk to any place where anonymous groping is pervasive (rallies, standing concerts (i.e. mosh pits), dark packed basement clubs, any western women in the Middle East not fully covered (I lived in SWA for years and women are groped / masturbated on regularly in malls, walking down the street, etc)) and you see dress / mannerism is the key. Obese man-hating dyked out fully covered women (think the meatpacking chick from Boondock Saints) are of magnitudes less chance of “assault” than the skinny bimbo with plastic double D’s in a wet half T and daisy dukes. Let’s quit arguing over how the world should be and understand how it is.

  17. #17 |  Gretchen | 

    Lovely. It’s always nice to hear from men who assume that because they’re misogynistic assholes, all other men must be as well but are just hiding it. It’s like they feel alone and threatened in their assholery if that’s not the case.

  18. #18 |  Leah | 

    True dat, Gretchen.

  19. #19 |  RomanCandle | 

    @44
    “Hmm, I guess I took conflating to mean that you considered one as bad as the other. You take it to mean something that is on the same list.”

    To me, you weren’t implying that “leering” and “slut-shaming” (like “rape culture”, not one has bothered to explain the definition of this to me) were as bad as rape, but you seemed to imply that it was in the same ballpark. That’s what conflating is.

    Am I being overly defensive? Perhaps. But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s virtually impossible for a man to have an honest, good-faith discussion about gender politics without being labelled a misogynist at some point.

    “Enjoy your success with women…”

    Hey, it’s better to be a jerk who gets laid than a nice guy who’s involuntarily celibate.

  20. #20 |  Mike T | 

    That’s a very dark thought, but that’s where the frank assertion that women who dress a certain way are asking for it will take you…

    Asking for it is sloppy terminology because it conflates morality and causality. A woman has a moral right to not be raped. As a matter of causality, exhibiting certain behaviors while wearing certain types of clothing will not only raise the probability of being raped, but reduce the level of sympathy one is owed for being the victim of such an attack. When a woman chooses to engage in behaviors which are known to put her at elevated risk of being an available target for a would-be rapist, that certainly would cause any right-thinking individual to feel substantially less sympathetic to her as a victim.

  21. #21 |  Mike T | 

    To put it further in perspective for you, Gretchen, a woman has a moral right to run through the poor sections of Johannesburg wearing pasties and a thong and not get raped. If by “asking for it” you mean “an obvious causal link” between her doing that and getting raped (since Johannesburg has one of, if not the highest, rape rates in the world) then yes, she’d be “asking for it.”

  22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

    What exactly does “asking for it” mean? There is nothing wrong with wanting to attract the attention of men. Hell, I think women should be able to safely walk around completely naked (and I am dead serious about that). Even a woman who specifically dresses to go out and get laid is not inviting forcible rape. She’s simply playing the mating game. She will no doubt attract a lot of male attention and some of it will, no doubt, be unwelcome. But there is no way that a rational human being can claim that she is “asking” to be raped.

    To say women should cover up to avoid the risk of assault is the same argument that the Taliban uses to rationalize the burqa, except that the line is being drawn in a different place. We ridicule fundamentalist Islamic cultures that stigmatize women who don’t cover up or have a male escort, but by telling women they should dress more conservatively, we are essentially doing exactly the same thing. You could argue that, to reduce the risk of rape even further, they shouldn’t go out at all.

    Recording a cop will very likely get you illegally arrested, but we don’t later scoff and tell them that they had it coming because they recorded a cop.

    What kind of friggin’ cops comes out and says, “It would sure make my job a lot easier if you women didn’t keep going out and getting yourselves raped”.

    Finally, the fact that a jury is more likely to see the victim as complicit in her own rape because of the way she dressed is not a problem with the way women dress. It’s a problem with the prejudices of the population from which the jury is picked.

  23. #23 |  Gretchen | 

    Mike T,

    It’s true that “asking for it” can have the different meanings you describe. We might, for example, say that a person who leaves a fancy car running is asking for it to be stolen, and that doesn’t mean he’s morally responsible for its theft. However, when you’re talking about assault women are described as having “asked for it” almost universally because of how they dress, and that’s not okay. Even aside from the victim-blaming connotation in general, it suggests that the woman’s dress was the primary reason she was both selected for rape and actually was raped, which I would hazard to guess is almost never the case. Factors such as how drunk she was, whether she was alone with a rapist, etc. are astronomically more important in that regard.

    Women go out scantily clad but remain safe through the evening every single night because they are careful about making sure they have friends around, know where their drink came from, made sure to have a safe way to get home, and so on. That’s why singling out how they’re dressed as the only or even primary item of attention sounds a lot less like concern for their safety and a lot more like attempts to make them ashamed for their clothing choices. If you’re genuinely thinking about the actual cause of rape, not being vulnerable around rapists would be the actual top thing to worry about.

  24. #24 |  M. Steve | 

    @ Gretchen 73

    “Women go out scantily clad but remain safe through the evening every single night because they are careful about making sure they have friends around, know where their drink came from, made sure to have a safe way to get home, and so on. ”

    Very well said.

    It’s my observation that events like the Slutwalk have a tendency to shout “dress how you want”, but only whisper “have friends around, keep an eye on your drink, don’t drink too much, and know how you’re getting home”.

  25. #25 |  Gretchen | 

    Well, true M. Steve, but I don’t think the Slut Walk is really about telling women how to protect themselves from rape. It’s just a bunch of people saying that “Try to avoid dressing like a slut” isn’t it.

  26. #26 |  M. Steve | 

    Gretchen, I agree, which is why I criticize it. As always, the message has two parts; what’s said, and what’s left unsaid.

  27. #27 |  Peter | 

    That rational just doesn’t work Gretchen as it’s alleviating all personal responsibility to not be stupid.

    “Why should I have to watch what I drink, it’s not my fault they spiked it”

    “Why shouldn’t I not get totally plastered, snort a bunch of coke, go home with some guy I just met, and take my clothes off, finger myself in his bed, and then just go to sleep, it’s not my fault he had sex with me when I passed out afterwards”

    “Why should I have to keep friends around, it’s not my fault”

    Let’s have Drunken Cocktease Go Home with Random Stranger Princess Walk.

    We all get it’s a mosaic of independent behaviors and individual actions but it’s just irresponsible to condone those independent components or, if we wish to, understand and accept the increased risk that comes with that behavior and accept yes it was partially the victims fault.

    Nothing is 100% and yes the victim always shares some responsibility regardless of the crime, it’s called the risk/reward ratio of not committing suicide or waking up in the morning.

    If I jump out a plane with no parachute it’s not 100% I will die but it does significantly increase my chances. Sure that is gravities fault but I share some of the blame here if I go splat.

  28. #28 |  Gretchen | 

    Peter, go back and read what I said again. I was careful to distinguish between practical responsibility and moral responsibility and explain why “don’t dress like a slut” switched from the former to the latter. And that wasn’t the first time, considering that JOR first articulated it back at post #43.

  29. #29 |  D. Nevels | 

    I saw the youtube clip. Can anyone tell me the point other than the speaker saying that barely anyone asked her about what she wore?

  30. #30 |  dhex | 

    the victim always shares some responsibility regardless of the crime

    try explaining that to raped toddlers. they’re screaming “ouchy!” and sobbing and i’m all “you should have known better than to walk into your local parish wearing nothing but a onesie and a diaper” and their parents are all “how dare you!” and i’m all “i’m just telling it like it is, lady – stretchy pants are like candy to priests.”

    but do people listen? no. it’s hard being a messenger of righteousness.

  31. #31 |  Peter | 

    @ #80: In the context of adults yes. Let’s not chase the strawmen of infants, permanently mentally disabled (i.e. retarded, not a drunk person who is temporarily impaired), advanced Alzheimers, etc etc

  32. #32 |  Peter | 

    @ #80: And I would blame the parents/guardian in those cases. I wouldn’t excuse the parent who dressed their eight year old daughter up in Abercrombie’s new push-up/stuffed bra for kids, gave them a Tesco pole dancing toy, and sent them to the latest female equivalent of NAMBLA.

    Don’t want a priest to molest your kid, put your kid around priests; that is a risk decision made by the parents to trust priests.

  33. #33 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    D. Nevels, thanks for watching the clip I recommended at #61

    The speaker made a number of points– a major one is that rape is a random event which results from being targeted by a rapist.

    As far as I know, there’s no strong co-relation between what one is wearing and the risks.

    General points: Those of you who’ve been positing scenarios about women wearing unusually revealing clothes are just guessing about the risks, and also guessing that there’s a bright line between what’s safe to wear and what isn’t.

    In general, behavior which is made more expensive is less likely to occur. Do you want a world where women feel safe in sexy clothes? In that case, don’t say it’s their fault if they get raped. Being blamed adds to the cost of being raped.

    As nearly as I can figure it, something like 5% of men are rapists– the highest percentage of women having been raped that I’ve seen is about a quarter or a third. Rapists typically don’t do it just once.

    My impression is that a lot of men who aren’t rapists are sufficiently afraid of being accused that they supply cover for actual rapists by inventing scenarios where it isn’t entirely the rapist’s choice and thus not entirely his fault.

  34. #34 |  Peter | 

    @ #83:

    Those numbers seem high to me. Do you honestly believe 1 in 3 women are raped (using the definition that has been argued in this thread by others where rape isn’t sexual assault nor has anything to do with sex in a sexual way and is purely random/power trip) and 1 in 20 men are rapists? Sorry but those numbers don’t pass the common sense test.

  35. #35 |  dhex | 

    And I would blame the parents/guardian in those cases.

    of course you would.

    the point yer missing is that the idea is the same. it’s not about kids “dressing slutty” that resulted in a slew of molestations – a great deal of those cases were kids going to catholic schools in uniforms. it’s that some men are rapists.

    i come back to the point about places with “robust street harassment cultures” a la nyc – i have seen and heard pregnant women getting catcalled. it’s got fuckall to do with “dressing slutty” and everything to do with exercising power over someone else. if you want a more simple demonstration, imagine another man follows you down the street calling you names. are you getting ready for a fight? or are you looking at your clothes and thinking “man, i dressed too slutty today”?

  36. #36 |  Leah | 

    Ha, dhex, funny you’d mention that – I’ve gotten catcalled quite a few times here in Chicago. What was I wearing? Business casual attire, mostly (pants and button-down shirts) but on one memorable occasion I was 8 months pregnant. Was someone hot for maternity clothes? Or just a douchebag? Hmm…

  37. #37 |  Peter | 

    I don’t put myself in situations where men might call me names (i.e. if you don’t like to get cat calls in NYC, then move somewhere else) and in the same way, as a middle age white guy who has a come fuck with me look and mannerism (was born with that, lots of fights as a result), I don’t hang out around basketball courts in the ghetto …. if I want to play ball I go to the Y. The point here is I accept the reality of life and make conscientious decisions as a result to minimize risk to the lifestyle I choose to live. I don’t blame the dog that bites me, I blame myself for getting bit understanding that no matter how “civilized and progressive” I may be the world isn’t nor are most people. The way it is and the way it should be don’t match and the cop giving the advice understood that in a way that many of the folk on this board don’t.

  38. #38 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    Peter, my point was that even starting from a very pessimistic assumption, only a small minority of men commit rape.

    However, what proportion of women having been raped would you find plausible, and why?

  39. #39 |  Peter | 

    Nancy:

    That is a difficult question as I am aware that many rapes go unreported, many reported rapes aren’t actually raped (defined as non-sexual in nature per earlier in this thread by others that aren’t me), and anecdotal evidence is unreliable. I know from personal conversations I have had with folk I would put it well under 1% of women to the point of maybe one in a thousand and the FBI (I looked this up after I asked myself the question so I wouldn’t bias my answer) tells me I am overestimating (~100,000 a year out of around 150 million women or roughly 1 out of 1500). Of all the women I have known over the years ranging the entire economic spectrum I have only known one women was raped as we are defining rape and even that is questionable as the guy was never caught (or reported) hence I don’t know his intent. That being said I know four men who have been raped and plenty of women who were sexual assaulted, sometimes violently in manner that would be considered rape in a layman’s terms.

  40. #40 |  John David Galt | 

    What the cop said is only common sense. It’s fine to dress as you please if you can defend yourself and aren’t averse to having to do so. But if you look like a minnow, and you insist on trying to swim across the shark tank, guess what’s going to happen. Just because an attacker would be in the wrong should not mean you bear no blame for doing something that stupid.

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