More than likely you read the title of this article and thought what? How does sexual assault and fashion relate in any way? You probably felt anger, confusion and disbelief that these two topics are beside one another. Distinguishing a basic conclusion is not possible is it? And that is because you are absolutely right.
There are no comparisons. No connections. No similarities; not even in the slightest. So why in our current society is clothing a topic of questioning for a female being who has experienced sexual assault? How is this even logical?
Undoubtedly the ‘modesty’ culture within our current society is highly prevalent. From young, women have been taught to be cautious or to withhold self-expression to avoid unwanted attention. To be vigilant when alone; with potential weapons at the ready in case the dreaded happens. As well as acknowledging the potential repercussions of showcasing our beautiful, unique physical features, basically in attempt to avoid sexual assault.
The Independent conducted a survey which focused on the extent people believe clothing to be a significant reasoning for sexual assault on women. The results concluded that 55% of Men believe this statement to be true; claiming the more revealing a Woman’s clothes are the more likely she will be harassed or assaulted. 41% of female correspondents portrayed similar views, stating revealing clothing invites unwanted sexual advances. Perplexingly, these figures were conducted in 2019.
But I ask why – why do we as women have to alter ourselves? Why is it difficult for a perpetrator to understand without consent there is no consent? To accept no means no. To recognise that the clothes we wear do not communicate our worth.
Stop teaching women to diminish themselves and start teaching basic human rights of respect, consent, self discipline and control. Because ultimately a woman’s worth is immutable. It is inviolable. It does not change with what she does or does not wear. And if you believe it does; you are a part of the problem.
Without a doubt, provocative is a word that is used intensely to justify the sexual assault actions of a perpetrator to perceive oneself as less culpable. A title that has profoundly impacted the extent of victim blaming; a label used thoroughly in discussions of sexual assault to describe the appearance of a woman. A term who’s appropriateness consistently remains unchallenged.
Therefore I ask. If this term holds so much dominion towards the validation of a woman’s sexual assault case; why in the referencing of a males is there no regard to his appearance? Fundamentally because the question of ‘what was you wearing? or ‘were you dressed provocatively?’ merely does not surface.
It’s not a lack of female modesty, but a sense of male entitlement that leads to sexual violence. And the idea that we women can change the men’s behaviour by changing our clothes, is not only disconcerting. It has been debunked. As millions of women know all too well, nobody ever avoided a rape by wearing a longer skirt. Anne K. Ream
Additionally, I want to specifically clarify. To allude a woman is responsible to dress in a manner that does not sexually arouse others is absurd. Further implying women should assist in the self control of perpetrators is ludicrous. Confusingly, a perpetrator acts in the need for power and control but does not have the need to hold power and control over one’s own body. As simply and precisely as I can put it, a perpetrators sexuality is their own responsibility not a woman’s.
I believe you
Not only has our ‘modesty’ culture instituted profoundly dubious attitudes towards a woman’s responsibility for the perpetrators sexual behaviour. It has resulted in the creation of environments that enable callous victim blaming acts, thus enhancing discouragement in confinement in those personal and professional beings who are supposed to bring justice. Consequently oppressing beings to deal with their experience alone.
“5 in 6 victims will not report their experience to authority” National Statistics
So, I ask each individual who reads this article to be an activist. A force in creating a society where there is no inclination to presume the perpetrator in some way can be influenced to perform such an inhumane act. Also, to evoke highly that if there is any question that holds significance when relating to clothing it is ‘what was the perpetrator wearing’; in order to help identification. Succour in instituting an aura which evokes trust, understanding, comfort and belief whilst simultaneously deconstructing the current insensitive, futile system. We must aid one another.
To all the Women and Trans-women
To all the Women and Trans-women, that were told they were dressed ‘provocative’ or ‘too feminine’, or were merely dressed in their princess pyjamas, prom dress, bikini, baggy clothes and in so many other ways. You did not deserve it. You did not ask for it. It was not your fault. There was nothing you could have or should have done.
Unquestionably, what I do definitely know is that what you were then, you radiate more now than ever. Beauty; power; courage; inspiration; admiration; and so much more. Moreover, you deserve all the happiness; peace; adventure; prosperity and love in life. All of which I know is undeniable that you will receive.
“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor for setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage”. Alex Elle.
Respectively I want to elucidate men too experience sexual assault. Indisputably there is nothing in this world, that can therefore justify any sexual assault actions – the only blame that should be demonstrated, is towards the perpetrator.
If you have experienced sexual assault, know that there are many others who can relate, listen and will help. Speak. And know that any step you take in YOUR journey is right. Do not question yourself. You will heal.
I am here for you. We are here for you.