By Eva Connors
Clothes make the (wo)man. This simple idea has been driving the fashion industry since man left the loincloths behind for more exquisite animal adornments.
Billions of dollars every year are spent on new duds, meticulously chosen with a specific image in mind.
Person A wears good quality slacks and sweater vests over his turtlenecks because he wants the world to know he’s a good, wholesome guy. Person B wears ripped jeans and dirty flannel button-ups over her formerly white T-shirts because she doesn’t care about mainstream fashion. Person C wears sleeveless tops and mini skirts because she’s easy and wants to be raped.
I wish I could say people didn’t think that way, and that it wasn’t the case, but all too often I’ve seen online news stories where a girl was a victim of rape or sexual harassment, and the masses will comment and say, “Well look at how she was dressed! She was asking for it!”
Quite simply, that’s wrong. The definition of rape clearly states that the sexual contact in question is unwanted. You can’t actually ask to be raped, and why would you? It’s an awful, horrific experience that scars the victims probably for the rest of their lives.
If a person gets hit by a car, people don’t say “Well it’s his fault for being there!” When a person’s house gets broken into, people don’t accuse the house of looking too provocative. But when a person gets raped, the first thing anyone does is look at what the victim was wearing to see if he or she “deserved” it.
Instead of blaming the person who did it, they place the blame on the victim. It’s akin to saying, “How could she not rob that guy? He had a fancy watch on! She couldn’t help herself!”
A person’s motivation for wearing low-cut, belly-baring tops and itty-bitty bottoms doesn’t matter. Maybe she just liked the outfit, or she wanted to look good for her date.
Or, let’s say the victim was showing skin because she did want to garner some extra attention. Maybe she wanted the boys to give her a second look. What of it?
Much like an art gallery, the understanding is that there is an invitation to look but not touch.
This idea that people, particularly women, have to cover up to avoid unwanted sexual contact is absurd. Men, as it turns out, are not the out-of-control sex fiends rape apologists make them out to be. Male genitalia does not prevent the owner from being perfectly adept at practicing self-control, and to suggest otherwise is fairly offensive to the entire male population. By blaming the rape victims for dressing “like that,” however, society is basically saying men are simple-minded and incapable of self-constraint.
Ultimately, it goes back to the archaic idea that women should cover up at all times except for in the privacy of their own bedrooms.
Society, at least in this part of the world, consists of stuck-up prudes. In the UK, there are newspapers and billboards full of bare-breasted women and nobody thinks twice. In Japan there are co-ed hot springs where full nudity is mandatory.
What people can’t seem to accept is that the human body is nothing to be ashamed of. Let me be the first person to say it: when the weather gets warm, I break out of my winter layers and rock the hussy garb.
I probably have more tiny shorts and skirts and low-slung tops than grandparent-approved attire. That doesn’t mean every time I leave my house wearing less-than-biblical clothing I’m screaming “TAKE ME NOW.” In fact, it doesn’t mean anything at all, except maybe that I’m comfortable in my own skin, or trying not to get sweaty.
To some extent, a person’s clothing speaks for them. Where a man in a business suit probably wants to look professional, one in board shorts and flip-flops is probably going for laid-back.
But whatever their clothing might say, it’s up to the people around them to act appropriately.