Letters to the Editor

The harsh realities of dressing like a slut | Letters

I’ve read Amy Johnson’s column on sexual abuse and the Slut Walk (July 9) and I want to offer a few observations in disagreement.

I think you’re perspective is too one-sided. In a rape, the man is usually the aggressor and stronger and mostly at fault. Emphasis on the words “usually” and “mostly.” The human drama has long included shady women who play on these facts. So when you ask, “What if the underlying belief was that, if a woman is attacked, her attacker is 100 percent at fault?” Then we’d have to throw away our judicial system (innocent until proven guilty) and hand shady women even more ammunition.

Men can be jerks and their usual superior strength puts them in the position to act on it more often than women, but your frustrated response from a woman’s perspective deserves a frustrated response from a man’s.

Regarding the Toronto police officer who said “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” it only occurred to me well into writing this response that the offensive part of this quote is likely the word slut (if some are offended at the simple idea that women play a part in their own safety, then read on).

Until then, I guess I was blinded by the sheer thrill of hearing someone speak sense for once. So the police officer should have chosen a better word, but these days, women’s and teen’s fashions have become so sexualized that it’s not uncommon to see them dressed exactly as sluts used to, and even now do. Madness, of course, and so I’m tempted to cheer the officer for his candor.

You quoted a woman’s sign in the Slut Walk as saying “My dress can’t say yes; only I can.” I don’t get it. Attire has been saying things for centuries. Adults know what it says. Fashion columns discuss it daily. Last I heard, if a woman’s shoes expose toe cleavage in a job interview, she’s sending the wrong message. So now we’re insisting that our dress can’t say yes, only we can? Then you add in your list of remedial moral instruction for guys whose parents and schools failed them: “7. Always be honest with people. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not intend to rape them.” Silly, yes (you said no, but I don’t believe you), but if you want to make jokes about communicating intentions, why are foolish women so completely off the hook? Is the fairly common notion of certain women playing the tease until too close to intercourse, and then saying no (at which point defining rape can become a complicated court case) entirely made up? I don’t think so.

For a while now, I’ve observed what has apparently been formalized by the Slut Walk, this nutty idea that to dress suggestively is a happy, innocent choice. Your column seems to say this was intentional. So I wonder why women want to dress suggestively if not to suggest lust in the minds of random males, however honorable (or lesbians)?

Not that rape is ever condoned, but do we walk around with money hanging out of our pockets in a frustrated attempt to cry out, “My pockets can’t say yes; only I can.” A nice sentiment, but don’t make any big plans for that money.

Dressing suggestively is simply unwise for safety’s sake. We know there are rapists out there and we ought to know it’s foolish to tempt them. And why tempt regular guys? Perhaps we missed the memo that guys are visual beings when it comes to sex. Seems our parents and sex ed classes are failing us again.

You write, “we need some serious shaking up in our communities about who to blame for rape.” We (parents mostly, but I think we’ve met the enemy and they is us) needed serious shaking up the moment the sexual revolution happened. I’m thinking babies and bathwater; it just went too far for foolish, selfish reasons. Seems to me modern society wants their cake and to eat it too. “Let’s dress provocatively because we want to feel alluring for the moment, but demand to be considered serious, dignified people at the same time.” Maybe if this idea is preached loud and long enough we masses will come to believe it.

Torger Helgeland, Federal Way

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