Sex & Candy

Posted on by JohnJ and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Given the content of this post, it’s probably best to disclaim that I alone am responsible for the opinions expressed here.

A police officer got into some trouble for saying that, well, I’ll just quote from the article.

An international series of protests known as SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer’s flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like “sluts” to avoid being raped or victimized, is taking root in the United States…

“It was taking the blame off the rapist and on the victim,” said Nicole Sullivan, 21, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an organizer of the SlutWalk planned Saturday in that city. “So we are using these efforts to reclaim the word ‘slut.’”

The police officer made his comments in January to a group of York University students at a safety forum. He later apologized, but his comments were publicized widely on Facebook and Twitter. They inspired a march in Toronto last month that drew more than 3,000 people, as well as SlutWalks since then in Dallas, Asheville, North Carolina, and Ottawa, Ontario.

Apparently thousands of people all over the world are protesting this one officer’s comments. But is that really what they’re protesting?

First, and most obviously, anything sexual is a heck of a motivator. Tell people to go out and protest for more sex, and they’ll probably do it. Slightly less obviously, but still pretty obvious, protesting about sexual repression is a great way to meet people who want to have casual sex. So certainly there’s an element of just wanting to meet other people who are as desperate and horny as you are.

So ya, this is probably mostly just a crowd of male teenagers doing their best to show support for women, and hoping to get rewarded for it. However, I’m sure there are some women who do have serious and legitimate concerns about the idea that women are still being blamed for inciting rape. It’s absolutely true that there is never a justification for rape, no matter how much some guy may think she’s “asking for it”.

Suppose that the pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden were published, and suppose that the worries about incitement and increased terrorism were realized. Those terrorists would not be justified.

Some rich guy goes to a seedy bar and shows his fat wallet around while he’s getting drunk, bragging to everyone about the killing he just made in the stock market. Does he deserve to be mugged? Absolutely not.

Just as it’s also true that no matter how much someone may flaunt their wealth, robbery is never justified. And no matter how much someone’s religion is being insulted, there is no justification for terrorism.

Of course, part of growing up means acting like an adult. We don’t go to bars and flash our money around. We don’t publish pictures of dead cult leaders while their cults are still active. We don’t incite people. Incitement doesn’t excuse the bad actor, but it’s better to avoid getting mugged than it is to see the mugger punished.

The world is full of animals out there. You may have a right to do whatever you want to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. 

Related posts:

  1. WSJ to Women: Only Have Sex With Winners
  2. Does Paying For Condoms Make Safe Sex Cost Money?
  3. Hotter than the Remix
  4. Osama bin Laden is dead. Now what?
  5. Coldplay fans are least likely to have sex, ever, under any circumstances, as per science.

About JohnJ

Law student, currently studying for the Illinois bar exam. Iraq vet.

106 Responses to Sex & Candy

  1. DataShade says:

    What’s your thesis statement? The last sentence? You’re essentially agreeing with the cop? I hope I’m wrong, I hope you just need to clarify yourself.

    Apparently thousands of people all over the world are protesting this one officer’s comments. But is that really what they’re protesting?

    No, that’s not what they’re protesting. There’s a perception of institutional bias, and this one cop, through his careless statements, made himself the target of all the anti-authoritarian distrust and all the contempt ‘The Patriarchy” has managed to earn doing things like forcing raped cheerleaders to pay court costs of the institution punishing her for speaking out.

    Any time a figure of authority or someone acting from a position of power uses that power or authority to repress/attack/marginalize a minority group or protected class, that’s injustice. If you think that’s limited to one Toronto cop, I’m really not sure how to relate to you. You understand the concept of privilege, right?

    • Dan Dravot says:

      Of course he’s agreeing with the cop. The cop thinks rape isn’t just about power. He thinks it’s about sex, too. He thinks rape is a sick, monstrous, criminal distortion of male sexuality, and that human male sexual interest is triggered by visual cues. If that is the case, then there is truth in the analogy to flashing a fat wallet in a seedy bar.

      So what’s your point? You’re flying into a rage because somebody told the truth? Or do you seriously think it’s not the truth? Quite possibly it isn’t, but where’s your data? Or are you working from your extensive experience dealing with violent criminals? (N.B. Most cops have dealt with a few of those too.)

      Rape is 100% wrong, always. So’s mugging. OK? 100% wrong, always, no exceptions, ever. We’re all agreed on this.

      Would you consider that crowd of affluent, educated white people to have been “marginalized” if the cop had suggested they stay out of bad parts of town at night, to reduce their chances of being raped? At which piece of sane, reasonable advice do you go off the rails and start yodeling about “the concept of privilege” (which, as I very clearly understand it, means precisely “SHUT

      Everything you said about “authority” and “privilege” is irrelevant here. Nobody’s being repressed or attacked or marginalized by the cop, and it is laughable to suggest that the educated, affluent white people in the above photograph are as a class being repressed or marginalized. “Institutional bias”, blah blah blah, quit changing the subject:

      These chicks are protesting the fact that somebody said something that’s probably true. That may seem normal and admirable to you, but to some people it looks a bit funny.

      That’s all.

      Personally, I’d like to see all those women getting CCW licenses and if anybody tries to rape them, they kill the dumb sonofabitch, and we can debate “institutional bias” in the matter of whether to give them a medal, or just a commemorative plaque.

      • Dan Dravot says:

        Damn it, that got posted accidentally. I’d meant to cut a bunch near the end. Sorry. Somehow I tabbed onto the “Post Comment” button while typing.

        I was on the bit about “the concept of privilege” when that happened, and what I was saying was this:

        In practice, the “concept of privilege” means that people who disagree with you are excluded from the debate, for reasons unrelated to the actual validity of what they’re saying. It means that people who yap about “privilege” have awarded to themselves the privilege of dictating all answers to all questions by fiat. It’s a pile of crap.

        • cypherzeta says:

          In practice, the “concept of privilege” means that people who disagree with you are excluded from the debate, for reasons unrelated to the actual validity of what they’re saying.

          Feminists do this with “code words”, too. That enables them to change what people are saying without looking at the argument or logic behind it.

          So when you say “I think women should dress less provocatively”, you really mean “I believe in the subjugation of women through a patriarchal hierarchy.” You never said that, but now you have to defend against the charge. Mission accomplished.

          • Dan Dravot says:

            Racist!

          • DataShade says:

            So when you say “I think women should dress less provocatively”, you really mean “I believe in the subjugation of women through a patriarchal hierarchy.”

            Actually, the point of rephrasing it is to force the other person to re-examine their own argument or logic without the comforting buffer of privilege.

            “I think women should dress less provactively” – what’s “provacative?” Who choses what provokes someone? First, exempting mental illness, doesn’t the actor have sole control over his actions? Second, some men have fetishes for feet, for hair, for eyes, for legs, for butts, for breasts; breast-men might subcategorize into cleavage, nipples poking through fabric, side-boob, underboob, tan-lines, natural breasts, big breasts, breasts in sweaters, etc. If someone is potentially going to rape a woman because she wore a thick, but tight, sweater – if someone is that easily trolled into rape – how conservatively dressed does a woman need to be to be safe from all rapists? What if a man has a fetish for women taller than he is, what kind of burka does a woman wear for that? How do you not see how wrong it is to even flippantly propose that a victim has control over their rapist’s behavior?

            Or, at least, control before they know the rapist is a rapist. I’ve been lead to believe that, in hostage crises, there are things that can help you survive, and while those tactics can’t all be used in all sexual assaults, if we’re going to insist assault victims have some kind of power over the event, shouldn’t we at least focus on the things that have been shown to work?

      • JohnJ says:

        Rape as a crime of power is probably better analogized to terrorism than to mugging, though all are crimes of power to some degree.

        The question, as I think you’re right to note, is “does this make a difference?” And that’s something I’m not aware of any research on. Perhaps TLP knows of some studies.

        Crime is very rarely entirely explainable by one factor. there are usually a confluence of factors, and, depending on a person’s agenda or perception, one area is focused on too much and the others are ignored. If poverty is your focus, poverty causes crime. If gender hierarchy is your focus, gender power disparities cause crime. Same for race, etc. I think one factor commonly overlooked is the will of the perpetrator.

        But all these issues are certainly worth discussing. And I agree that a person’s ability to protect herself is the best equalizer.

        • philtrum says:

          Why do you propose to start a discussion on a subject you yourself admit you don’t know about?

          • DataShade says:

            Conversely, why *wouldn’t* you want to start a discussion on a subject where you knew you had a lot to learn? I just wish his initial post had been clearer as to his intent.

            He felt the Slutmarchers were protesting the one cop’s mistake; as I said, I believe that there is a (in my opinion, long-standing and well-earned) perception of institutional bias: an unfortunate number of male cops, male prosecutors, and male judges are conservative and/or authoritarian enough to believe “she was asking for it,” and to finally find one stupid enough to say it out loud is a focal point/rallying cry too good to ignore.

            I mention things like ‘privilege’ because it’s very easy to be both honest and earnest and wrong. I was raised in a religious household by lawyers working as prosecutors, God and Country with my mother’s milk so to speak. Optimistically, JohnJ is a patriot who enlisted to defend his country, who, upon a safe return home, turned to jurisprudence to defend and uphold the Constitution with a pen rather than a sword; a man encumbered neither by hate nor prejudice, guided by a twin sense of justice and integrity.

            None of that insulates you from institutional bias. If enough of the judges and lawyers around you – especially the ones teaching you – have (even unspoken) the belief that rape victims “might have been asking for it,” then, even if you don’t believe it yourself, you’re going to at least subconsciously accept it could be true.

            Honest, earnest, wrong.

          • philtrum says:

            Well, that’s fair enough; but that’s also the reason there are [Insert Subject] 101 websites.

            When you jump into a conversation about a matter that affects many people intimately and painfully, with no background in the subject save what “your clients” have experienced (are American law students allowed to have their own clients? Canadian ones aren’t), and then throw a hissy fit when people point out that you’re missing big parts of the picture, that doesn’t make me think you honestly want to educate yourself.

        • CubaLibre says:

          This is a very good comment. I’m struggling to see how it squares with your initial post.

      • DataShade says:

        These chicks are protesting the fact that somebody said something that’s probably true. That may seem normal and admirable to you, but to some people it looks a bit funny.

        This is why I mentioned “privilege.” “If you didn’t dress so slutty or behave so unladylike, you wouldn’t get raped” is not only not true, everything I know or have ever read about the psychological profiles of rapists says it’s objectively false, but if enough males in positions of power and authority believe – even secretly – that it might be true, then it becomes close enough to true for other rapists to justify their actions. Most men I’ve had this sort of conversation with in the past are, thankfully, not rapists, so while they may have once been drunk enough with their buddies to segue from “would you suck a dick for a million dollars” to “is that chick so hot you’d rape her right on the bar,” or “she’s a lesbian, but I could turn her straight,” and, crass or even reprehensible as “jokes” like that might be, as long as they’re talk they’re just fantasies, so the imaginary ‘victim’ is not only loving it by the time it’s done, she’s always hot.

        Reality isn’t really too much like fantasy. In reality, was the old woman who gets raped by her burglar asking for it? The homely, worn-out looking woman coming off a double shift who takes a wrong turn looking for her subway platform was wearing a hot janitor’s uniform? The splotchy-faced, trying-to-lose-40-pounds-of-baby-weight jogger has unbearably sexy eczema and bags under her eyes? The barely-21 girl at the club should have known better than to smile politely to the meth-head she walked past on her way to the bathroom alone?

        “She was asking for it” is the kind of excuse a spurned/furious/frustrated man uses to justify why he raped the girl who hadn’t put out on the previous four dates.

        Now, CCWs are great as long as you can pull the gun before your assailant overpowers you, takes it from you, uses it on you, but when you say “CCW” what you’re doing is presenting the symbol that your mind uses for “self-reliance,” and even though you’re lying to yourself I’m okay with it, because you’re advocating that people at risk of rape be, by whatever means necessary, powerful. If rape is a crime of power, then the prevention, the defense, and the road to recovery is all about understanding, acquiring, and wisely acquitting, power.

        But a male authority figure telling a female rape victim that they should have known ahead of time that their rapist was going to like a low neckline or a nicely turned calf doesn’t empower her, it belittles her, and it reaffirms the false, but violently asserted, right of the rapist to abuse her.

        • JohnJ says:

          Would it have made any difference if it were a woman saying it? Because I have plenty of examples of that.

          I’m guessing the answer will be “no”.

          I think you bring up a good point about how someone is supposed to know whether or not a criminal is going to target them. Crime, especially rape, often seems unpredictably random. The media certainly doesn’t help with that. And given that most rape is acquaintance rape, focusing on your outfit doesn’t seem like it would help much. If anything, as you say, that’s often used as an after-the-fact justification.

          I very much believe that we should all do what we can to reduce victimization. I don’t think that “SlutWalks” are the answer. I’m sure some of the backers believe they are empowering women (although I think most male participants are just hoping to get lucky). But I think the overall effect is to actually dehumanize women by keeping the focus on their sexuality.

          • Neex says:

            JohnJ, I think you’re point with that is actually fine. If you actually care about what rape does to people you might consider how many people live will lifelong shame over their experiences with it and telling people they are being irresponsible and that’s why they get raped is going to cut pretty deep. I’d rather you say your opinions out loud so they can be discussed, so I’m not interested in you refraining from stating your opinions. But if you claim to care about what rape does to people, you might listen when people who have experienced it say what it means to have “irresponsiblity” thrown on at them instead of callously saying, “Your opinion no longer matters, rape victim, go get some therapy.”

            It doesn’t really seem congruant that you care much about what rape does to people? I think the slut walk has done plenty of good if it encourages discussion. I don’t know that dressing as provocatively as possible is the answer, but I bet it’s a fun experience for women like me who hide in their houses all the time because they are terrified they are going to make another mistake in speaking to be a man and get raped again and then have everyone throw that in your face how it’s your fault.

          • philtrum says:

            But that’s your interpretation of it. I wasn’t involved with the Toronto SlutWalk, but I have close connections with people who were, and it never even occurred to me that if I had been there I would have been “sexualizing” myself. By throwing a jacket on over jeans and a sweater, as I do every day in early spring, and going downtown to yell slogans at the police station? Really?

            What makes you think so poorly of the male participants? Some are probably there to get lucky, but honestly, if you want to get laid, there are many easier places to manage that than in a daylight crowd of sober pissed-off feminists. Some have probably been sexually assaulted; some know someone who has been sexually assaulted. Some just hate the police. There are lots of reasons for a man to be there.

          • DataShade says:

            Oh, I’m almost sure SlutWalks won’t reduce the amount of rape victimization, and since I’m willing to accept that enough male ‘walkers (nowhere near ‘most,’ not even limiting the selection to heterosexual males, but ‘enough’) are desperate men looking to get laid that not only don’t I think SlutWalks will reduce the number of rape victims, I expect (and cynically look forward to) the trying-too-hard-to-be-ironic news headlines and snide misogynist commentary when one of the protesters rapes another protester.

            I think your feeling that they’re being dehumanized is the point: because you feel a woman focused on her sexuality is base or vulgar or dehumanized, but she doesn’t. She could make crass jokes about masturbation the way I’m sure at least one guy you knew in high school (and if you served in the armed forces, probably more than one guy and probably more recently than high school), she could have clit-measuring contests with her girlfriends, she could spend every minute of Thanksgiving dinner telling the female equivalent of dick jokes to her younger cousins and while that makes her unladylike it doesn’t dehumanize her.

            But for as long as enough men feel like it does, it makes getting a rape conviction difficult; and as long as that’s the case, well, where’s my Slut Pride banner?

          • philtrum says:

            I don’t know about this “desperate straight man” thing, I really don’t. I really don’t think the atmosphere of the average protest is conducive to picking up a date. And again, look at the photo. Look at what the people in the photo are actually wearing.

        • DataShade says:

          Would it have made any difference if it were a woman saying it?

          You’re right, it wouldn’t matter, the pronouns were unnecessary, but, again, I think the specific instance of male cop/insensitive remark isn’t an event unto itself but a rallying point for a perception of systemic injustice.

  2. BluegrassJack says:

    How could any beat cop or “Constable” possibly know what leads to violent crime?

  3. Dan Dravot says:

    Hey, speaking of conservative religious groups — and of that particular meeting at the White House — uhhh…

  4. Psychohistorian says:

    This is a bit more than a bunch of horny feminists. I don’t think you appreciate the degree to which women’s sexuality has been used as a tool of oppression.

    As a matter of law, a woman’s sexual history was admissible in court to attack her credibility. Not just in rape cases. Period. If she was testifying to witnessing a murder, you could bring in her sexual past if she was “unchaste,” as this was believed to be relevant to her credibility. Until rather recently, a woman’s sexual past could be brought in to evidence in a rape case – even where there was substantial evidence that she was severely injured in the process, i.e. it wasn’t consensual. Spousal rape is a very recent legal development; it used to be impossible as a matter of law. The attitude of this cop treats female sexuality as essentially subordinate to men. There does appear to be an attitude that if a woman is slutty, her value as a human being declines and she is no longer deserving of the basic protections of law. Removing legal protections for a group just because you disapprove of their lifestyle is not exactly a good thing.

    That said, there are some cases where our sympathy for the victim may be stretched. If you leave your Ferrari unlocked with the keys in the ignition in a bad neighborhood, I’m not going to feel too bad for you when you get it stolen, even though I agree the thief should be prosecuted. Similarly, there are situations where people exercise so deliberately expose themselves to danger that they lose some (not all) right to sympathy. But that’s not dressing sluttily. That’s passing out naked at a strange frat house, or walking home at 3am through a bad neighborhood when you have alternatives.

    • cypherzeta says:

      Removing legal protections for a group just because you disapprove of their lifestyle is not exactly a good thing.
      So, who exactly is advocating the repeal of rape laws? Was that the cop? Did I miss it, or are feminists making a straw-man they can pounce on later when someone criticizes them for faulty logic?

      What gets me is that these feminists are attempting to “reclaim the word slut”–whatever that means–without a serious discussion about personal responsibility. The chant seems to be “We’re sluts, we’re irresponsible, and it’s your fault when things turn out badly.”

      Is it sexist to expect women to be more responsible for themselves? Note that I haven’t said anything about rape here: is it sexist to suggest that women should be more sexually responsible?

      • philtrum says:

        In fact there have been MANY recent occasions in which a judge reduced a rapist’s sentence, or a jury refused to convict, because of the victim’s clothes, appearance, or occupation. Let me repeat: not because there was proof that the victim actually consented to the sex act or that the sex act didn’t take place — because of the victim’s appearance or occupation.

        No one is arguing for the repeal of the rape laws, but many people are apparently asking that they not be enforced.

      • philtrum says:

        I don’t understand this need to focus on what the victim did wrong, let alone referring to people who do get victimized as “irresponsible”. The example of the easily stolen wallet is instructive; do people get so hung up on the “irresponsibility” of victims of theft? Do they insist that the owners of stolen wallets recognize how they brought it on themselves? Do they scold people who suggest that theft is a real problem? Do they extend their scoldings from people who wave cash around everywhere to, say, people who chose to keep their wallets in their front pants pockets rather than in a special money bag hidden under their clothes?

        Not for your benefit so much as for the record: I’m not personally offended by the suggestion that some things are risky. It’s not wise to get seriously drunk or high among people you don’t know and trust, it’s not wise to go off on your own with a stranger, it’s not wise to accept a drink when you can’t be sure what went into it, etc., etc. Because yes, people should be good and trustworthy, but they frequently aren’t. Any act of violence is still the victimizer’s fault, not the victim’s — but it’s better not to be a victim, blamed or not. Fine.

        But if some guy latches on to me at a bar and won’t go away and gets increasingly threatening even after I repeatedly decline his offer of a drink or conversation, that’s not me being irresponsible. If I a stranger sidles up and gropes me when I’m on the subway after a long day of work or school, that’s not me being irresponsible. If a client or customer corners me when I’m at work, that’s not me being irresponsible. If a trusted friend, boyfriend or husband suddenly turns violent on me, that’s not me being irresponsible. A hell of a lot of the violent and unpleasant sexual experiences women have are not our goddamn responsibility, and I do wonder what your issue is if you need to act as if they are.

        • Neex says:

          Quite honestly, DO you men here actually think it’s wrong to rape a slutty girl, a prostitute, a drunk girl? Is it actually wrong to rape a girl who goes home with you but then doesn’t want to put out?

          Would a woman be wrong in persecuting if she had gone to the guys house, gotten drunk, or worn a mini-skirt? Because as women, we feel like if we mess up we can’t report it. Is that your purpose here? To convince women who “get themselves raped” to shut up about it and not report it?

          • Psychohistorian says:

            I will admit there is often reprehensible conduct by women, though not that it justifies rape. There are many cases where women will use the prospect of sex to obtain material benefits from men. I recall a female friend of mine who was complaining to me about some old restaurant owner acting very aggressively to her and her friend, putting his hand on her thigh, making lots of sexual innuendos, etc. I asked why she didn’t say something to stop him, and her answer was, “I didn’t want to pay for dinner” (note that she expected to pay for dinner prior to these advances). I think a lot of people who buy into the “She had it coming” may be thinking of extreme situations where women deliberately and dishonestly lead men on to extract benefits.

            Again, in such cases, the guy is hardly exonerated for rape. But there are cases where a woman’s conduct does reach a level where she doesn’t deserve much in the way of sympathy. Again, this is a very long way from, “look at what she was wearing!”

          • DataShade says:

            Of course it’s wrong. There are just a thousand different reasons why, for a narcissist, it’s not rape when he does it, or why it’s different this time, etc etc etc.

            Of course it’s wrong.

            Just to play Devil’s Advocate for a moment, consider this baseless assertion: most men become apply to Police Academy because there’s no Batman Academy, but then rapidly discover that being a police officer isn’t at all romantic or empowering or even consistently fulfilling and what replaces their high hopes and aspirations is a sort of soul-crushing mix of 1.) frustration with whatever rules a particular officer feels keeps him from “doing my job,” 2.) dissociation between duty and self (“this isn’t who I am, this is just what I do”), 3.) apathy to insulate him from suffering (of the victims from whom he can take notes, but not travel back in time to help), and/or 4.) contempt, either for people who break even trivial laws (nevermind that the cop is paid to memorize statutes to write citations but the civilians aren’t), the victims (when will you people learn to [not dress slutty/not leave your valuables in the car/not live in a crack neighborhood/etc]) or both.

            So, then, the insensitive cops who aren’t misogynist pigs might actually be jaded, burnt-out, narcissists who can’t be bothered with your rape case because they’d rather be Batman or Jack Bauer or Jethro Gibbs, and the cop at the campus security lecture who says stupid shit isn’t a tool of the Patriarchy, he’s just an apathetic asshole who, while unqualified to be speaking on this particular topic, doesn’t have enough resiliency in his ego or checking account to tell his boss to shove it when he’s given the assignment.

            Now here’s the real thought experiment: which one is worse?

          • philtrum says:

            Oh yes, many women do crappy, manipulative things. It grosses me out when women talk about never having to pay for their own drinks, etc. Though I should clarify that those women make up a tiny minority of the women I know.

            But even there, it doesn’t make sense to jump to “no sympathy for you when you get violently assaulted.” Is rape a suitable punishment for being a bitch? I know you don’t believe that, PH, but I’ve read enough statements to that effect from other people.

            This Canadian case is instructive: no question that the women were being manipulative and mean, but I still can’t see the rape as anything but an abomination.

            http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/rape-victim-inviting-so-no-jail–rape-victim-inviting-so-no-jail-116801578.html

  5. cypherzeta says:

    Any time a figure of authority or someone acting from a position of power uses that power or authority to repress/attack/marginalize a minority group or protected class, that’s injustice.

    I think that’s a good place to start. Let me tell you a little long story:

    A man lives alone in his apartment and leaves for work at the same time everyday. He has a really strong sense of property rights, and would never consider stealing anything from anyone for any reason. He believes in property rights so much that he decides that a “real” display of these principles would include leaving his apartment door unlocked. After all, someone who believes in property rights would never steal anyone else’s property, so no one else should lock their doors. Why bother?

    One day, the man gets home from work, opens the door, and finds the television missing, his computer gone, and his apartment ransacked. Confused, he talks to his next-door neighbor, and the neighbor responds that it looked like there was a moving crew taking his belongings, patiently, one at a time. The neighbor thought he must be moving out of the apartment and nothing was wrong. It looked like they had a key and they looked very calm and orderly, so robbery didn’t cross the neighbor’s mind.

    Coming to the conclusion that he has been robbed, the man calls the police. A policewoman arrives and takes the man’s statement, as well as the neighbor’s. Throughout the process, she’s a little leery about the circumstances surrounding the robbery, so she asks some follow-up questions:

    “Was your apartment locked when you left for work this morning?”

    The man proceeds to explain his fervent beliefs about property rights and how, if you really, truly believe in property rights, you should be able to leave your apartment in whatever state you want–even completely unprotected–and still have your property rights respected by society. The policewomen, perplexed, continues:

    “You know there are robbers out there, and if you leave your door unlocked, that makes you a target for robbery, right?”

    The man is insulted by this reasoning. He angrily points out that it’s the police’s job to catch criminals and protect people’s rights, and so it’s the police’s negligence that lead to his apartment being robbed, and it’s the police’s responsibility to recover or replace the lost property, even if the robber is never caught. She responds:

    “Sir, if property rights are that important to you, then you should also be aware that you have personal responsibly for your property, and that you should take steps to protect it beyond the basic protections the police are able to give the public. Criminals are out there, and the police can’t protect you at all times.”

    Completely disgusted by the insinuation that he doesn’t actually care about property rights, he tells the policewoman that he will bring a lawsuit against the police department and the city, citing that the police are discriminating against a minority who are leaving their apartment doors unlocked. He also rails that the police are infringing on his equal-protection rights if they are implying that they will not protect him if he continues to leave his apartment unprotected.

    A few questions:

    (1) Using DataShade’s definition of injustice, who is being oppressed by whom?
    (2) Are the robber’s (unknown) motives justified under any circumstance?
    (3) What is the role of personal responsibility with regard to sexual rights?

    • philtrum says:

      What does this have to do with the “don’t wear slutty clothes or you’ll get raped” argument?

      It’s not actually easier to rape a woman who’s wearing “slutty” clothes. Long, loose clothes are no harder to remove than short, tight ones. The argument against “slutty” clothes is that they spark interest, not that they create opportunity.

    • Psychohistorian says:

      Yet, if those thieves are caught, the fact that his apartment was unlocked will be ruled irrelevant and inadmissible as a matter of law. No jury will exonerate the thieves because the guy was irresponsible, and no judge will reduce the sentence because the guy should have kept his apartment locked.

      This analogy breaks down basically the moment it gets applied to the actual situation to which you are applying it. Property owner irresponsibility is immaterial to the prosecution of thieves; sluttiness should generally be but is not inadmissible in rape cases.

      There are exceptions – there was a case where like four black dudes were accused of raping a white woman. Their defense was that she consented, and they were barred from introducing evidence that she actually had a history of engaging in group sex with random black dudes. Specific conduct like that, necessary to support an otherwise unbelievable defense, is entirely appropriate. But the fact that she was wearing a short skirt – or what she was wearing, period – is simply not material, even though it is sometimes treated as such.

      • JohnJ says:

        @Psychohistorian

        Actually, that’s not true. If the thieves present a defense that they were invited to take the property, all that evidence is admissible to be weighed by the jury.

        • Psychohistorian says:

          On the facts of that hypothetical, that defense simply isn’t prevented, and couldn’t be pursued as a matter of law. Even if the owner of an apartment left their door wide open, that would not constitute an invitation to come in and take their stuff. They would need to say something like, “Hey, you guys over there, you want a free TV and a computer? Come on in!”

          Sounds a lot like consent, which no one debates is an actual defense in rape cases.

          • Psychohistorian says:

            *simply isn’t presented, not prevented. The facts do not support that defense.

          • JohnJ says:

            I think what you’re saying is that you believe the standard for a consent defense is lower in rape cases. Let me assure you that it is not. I’ve had several clients who were convicted of sexual offenses on far less evidence than I’ve ever seen anyone convicted on a property crime.

            I think the debate is generally more about whether society has unrealistic expectations of women.

          • philtrum says:

            I don’t think the argument is over the law. The argument is over the assignment of moral culpability. People who argue that leaving your apartment door open implies consent to being burgled know full well that isn’t what the law says. That isn’t the point they’re trying to make.

            But it isn’t a good analogy regardless, because stealing from an unlocked apartment is a crime of opportunity, not a desire for the contents of that specific apartment, and the “slutty clothes” thing is supposedly about arousing desire.

    • DataShade says:

      Your hypothetical situation is so far off base I have to wonder if you’re trolling me, or if it’s simply the case that so much of your interactions with others on the internet has been with trolls that you just don’t know how to act.

      Aside from the fact that non-violent theft of property is nowhere near akin to sexual assault, aside from the fact that a police office who fails to ask questions like “who else knew that you routinely left your door unlocked” is doing a terrible job, aside from the fact that having an open or unlocked door might invalidate a charge of breaking and entering but not theft, aside from the fact that having a B&E charge stripped from the indictment at grand jury would not convince a petit jury to acquit, etc etc etc:

      1.) Who’s the minority or member of a protected class? Where is authority being used to marginalize or repress?
      2.) While motive is sometimes so important as to *define* the crime – first degree murder vs. second degree murder vs. manslaughter often hinge entirely on motive and/or premeditation – many crimes are still crimes completely abesent a motive, defined in court for the sake of convincing a jury (the old saw “means, motive, opportunity”). However, in this case, there’s an obvious suggestion: a mistake on the part of a legitimate moving company – or even reposession or collections – who were given bad instructions or poorly executed accurate instructions. Do you intend to imply that a non-trivial number of rapes occur because the rapist wrote down the wrong address before putting the nylon webbing and boxcutters in his van?
      3.) Oh, thank god, finally a question I can understand. Personal responsibility plays a crucial role with regards to sexual rights. I firmly believe, as a man, that if I go to a bar to try to fuck some drunk chick, I am personally responsible for whatever happens next: whether it’s a bastard child, or if I go to jail because some other guy accidentally put a rohypnol in both her and, accidentally, his own drink, then passed out in the bathroom, so she has no memory of the night, accuses me of rape, and a blood test finds traces of a date-rape drug in her blood, so I get convicted. If only I’d practiced some kind of restraint, maybe waited for the second date, I wouldn’t have found myself accused of a rape that was really just a comical misunderstanding if you looked at it from another point of view.

      But, when I get out, if I pick up a girl at my church’s lawn fete, and she takes me back to her place and lops my pecker off in my sleep, I’d like to think the police wouldn’t give me a goddamn lecture on personal responsibility before sending the K9 unit out to look for my severed penis.

  6. philtrum says:

    I don’t think you’re entirely getting the concept.

    Firstly, the Toronto police have a reputation for brutality and a rather ugly history when it comes to sexual assault and their dealings with women: the Jane Doe/Balcony Rapist case in the 1980s, the rash of unwarranted strip searches in the 1990s, etc.

    Secondly, the purpose of the walk was not to make statements about the participants’ actual sex lives. The use of the term was ironic: we are all sluts to someone ( if you don’t believe that, read some of the literature put out by Christian fundamentalists; and if you’re a Christian fundamentalist, read some of the literature put out by Islamic fundamentalists, particularly with regard to women who don’t cover their hair or faces). Participants were told to dress however they felt comfortable; if you look at that photo, most of the people in it are not dressed in a particularly “slutty” manner, by Western standards.

  7. chickadee says:

    It’s stunning how eager people are to dish blame onto everyone except the rapist.

  8. Neex says:

    Are all men facing an internal war within themselves over the desire to force sex on women, maybe even purposely with desire to cause harm, violate etc?

    The idea that slutty clothes incite some men to act out these feelings– only the bad men who don’t care about women’s feelings or how that could damage someone of course the bad men—- but doesn’t that sort of imply that all men are on the verge of acting out such feelings because slutty clothes could cause any man to do this?

    Men sort of feel bad for the rapist because their like, “Yeah dude when I see boobs it makes me want to skrew bitches till they can’t scream any more, totally understood, BUT DON’T DO IT FOR REAL YO!?”

    If men are all sort of dangling on controlling these urges, then it would seem it both be nice to be a little less affrontive with displays of female sexuality in dress— but also perhaps that men shouldn’t be trusted with being able to protect women from themselves in general. Because if men can be triggered by clothing, they can be triggered by other things and if they are constantly on the verge of unleashing animal impulses on women maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to be around women so much? Just thinking out loud…

    • philtrum says:

      That is a pretty standard feminist argument against the “don’t go outside/don’t dress slutty” trope.

      I myself doubt that the average straight man really wants to have sex with a woman who is miserable and struggling and begging him to stop and leave her alone, but I’m sure I’ll hear I’m too optimistic about men. And simultaneously a man-hater. Because that’s how I roll.

      • CubaLibre says:

        I certainly don’t. TLP had a good post about it on his main blog, dealing with that radio show and the magic rape-forgetting pill. The fantasy isn’t: I want to fuck a chick who’s limp and crying and trying to drag herself away from me. The fantasy is: I want to fuck a chick who says no so hard that she starts to say yes. I want to convert her to the religion of my dick via the sheer force of my sexual power. In other words, to be arousing, she has to start to like it eventually – one way or the other.

        How this translates into real rapes (which certainly do not follow this fantasy, i.e. the women do not actually start to enjoy it) I don’t know. Clearly there must be a minority of men who do simply enjoy the struggle without the resolution; these are the psychopaths who stranger rape. But I do know that most rapes are committed by familiar people. Perhaps most rapists are one-time-only; they try it, see the fallacy of the fantasy and have no reason to try again. Maybe many of them expect sex and are too blinded by their own lust to see the (possibly subtle) signs that their desire is not reciprocated. I’ve only ever boned enthusiastically willing partners, so I can only theorize.

        • philtrum says:

          Stats show most rapists are repeat rapists.

          Maybe many of them expect sex and are too blinded by their own lust to see the (possibly subtle) signs that their desire is not reciprocated.

          I think this is the most likely explanation for most acquaintance rapes. They may not see the signs that the other person doesn’t want it, or they may see/hear the refusal but feel entitled to ignore it: she led me on, I’ll show her she can’t leave me hanging like that, I need this, she doesn’t really mean it, I’m almost finished anyway, etc.

    • DataShade says:

      Are all men facing an internal war within themselves over the desire to force sex on women, maybe even purposely with desire to cause harm, violate etc?

      No one’s qualified to speak for all men, but I’ll hazard a guess: no. Caveat: all men with adequate hormone levels have weighed the physical pain of a self-inflicted dick-punch against the emotional pain and embarassment of standing up from a table/getting out of a pool/etc with a raging boner, so it’s possible that:

      Men sort of feel bad for the rapist because their like, “Yeah dude when I see boobs it makes me want to skrew bitches till they can’t scream any more, totally understood, BUT DON’T DO IT FOR REAL YO!?”

      is a sentiment that exists among a significant portion of the male population. Boobs are totally rad, but not so much that

      they are constantly on the verge of unleashing animal impulses on women

      But your thought experiment isn’t off-target: if non-rapey men want to permit rapists to use the “she was asking for it” defense, then those non-rapey men have to accept severe limitations on their personal freedoms re: interactions with women. “Well, but *I* would never” – but the other guy would? Ask him, then: “did you ever think about raping someone?” If he says yes, he’s going to jail, so he has to say no or say nothing, so you’re right back where you started.

      If neither integrity nor justice can compel a man to condemn a rapist, shouldn’t enlightened self-interest?

  9. lilin says:

    Some problems with your ‘rich guy in a bar in a bad neighborhood’ analogy.

    1. Where’s the ‘bad neighborhood’ when it comes to women? Is it a bar? Is it a party with friends? (Don’t say no- you’re most likely to get raped by some jerk you already know.) Is it the cab ride there or back? Is it around your house (Your neighbors can see you, and your family members, your family members friends. Remember, he was talking to high schoolers. These are the people who are most likely to rape them). Is it walking to and from a party?

    The answer to that question is ‘everywhere’, isn’t it?

    2. What’s ‘bragging’ about how much money he made? In your example, the man is making a big show. How does the woman ‘dressed like a slut’ do the same? Is it walking down the street? Is it taking a drink? Is it flirting? What exactly is the female equivalent of ‘talking about making a killing’?

    It’s just being there, isn’t it?

    3. Now let’s talk about the poor people who have motivation to mug this guy in this bar. If he went to a different bar, he would be among people who would never assault him, because they didn’t need the cash. Is there an economic way to filter out likely rapists? Is there ‘no rape’ bar women can go to? A ‘no rape’ party?

    There isn’t, is there?

    4. Now let’s get to the fact of the ‘big wallet’. The guy can disguise it. Every guy, everywhere, has some ratty jeans and a t-shirt that he can put on if he wants to go slumming. Women have just a little harder time acting like they’re not women. The guy can disappear. The woman, though she could be less flashy, has the word ‘rich’ tattooed on her face.

    This is why I hate the ‘personal responsibility’ argument. You pick things like diamond rings, or expensive cars, or big wallets, and you convince yourself that it’s anywhere near the same thing. Let’s correct your little example.

    “It’s just like a rich guy bringing a huge wallet to a bar in a bad neighborhood – except the bad neighborhood is everywhere, the ‘bragging’ is the fact that he is exists in a state of being rich, he can never find people who aren’t motivated to mug him, and he can’t ever completely disguise the fact that he’s rich.”

    In other words, the guy can live his life, provided he’s careful. The woman can’t.

    Finally, the police officer could have said, “dressed in a risque way,” he could have said, “wearing a miniskirt,” he could have said pretty much anything. He said “dressed like a slut.” In other words, dressed like a woman who has a lot of sex. What does that tell you about his attitude towards women who have a lot of sex?

  10. JohnJ says:

    To my critics:

    This blog post was intended to discuss merely the concept that just because one has a right to do something, that’s reason enough to do it. It’s easy enough in any blog post to point out that there are other factors. Indeed, it seems to me that this blog is entirely about gathering different perspectives on an issue in order to see it more clearly. So for that, thank you all.

    As to privilege, books have been written about privilege. I do not agree with Dan that discussing privilege is merely another way to tell people to shut up. Privilege is the idea that a type or group of people are entitled to certain benefits to which others are not entitled. This very much does exist. It exists from the privileged, rugby-playing youth who are told that women exist for their pleasure, to the Enron-environment where they’re told that they’re entitled to rip off people who are too stupid to stop them, to our political class who believe that they’re entitled to be exempt from the laws they pass for everyone else. Privilege exists in small cliques within large groups, and it exists society-wide. Members of society are signaled about what is and is not acceptable behavior according to the status of the people involved. People observe other people, and they note what happens when those other people do things. They see whether the power structure condemns it or not. They listen to the explanation of why. Even really stupid people learn the rules. Hollywood and the media are responsible for the bulk of the perpetuation of privilege in a society as large and diverse as ours, but even within segments of society, there are other methods of sending these signals. Almost all people agree that privilege exists. Most people just disagree about who is privileged and how much. (There is also the flip side of the coin: the idea that certain groups or types of people have extra responsibilities. This is where chivalry comes from, as well as “White Man’s Burden”, and the progressive income tax.

    It is absolutely true that rape has been used as a tool of social oppression. In some places and at some times, men have been encouraged to rape women who do something wrong, such as walk to the neighbor’s house without a male escort, or cut her hair too short. However, this does not mean that all rape is a tool of social oppression.

    Philtrum, why did I write about something I don’t know very much about? Simply put, I didn’t. I wrote about one element of it (one part of the object, as it were). The logic that women have a right to dress slutty, therefore they should dress slutty, is bad logic. The most important question seems to me to be whether dressing slutty actually increases a woman’s chances of becoming victimized. If it does, then women shouldn’t do it any more than the rich guy should flash his money around. Of course, the counter-argument is the Martin Luther King Jr. argument that society needs to have this inequality of protection brought forward to its collective conscience. However, I think there are important differences between being able to go to a restaurant or hotel, and doing something that is designed to make people associate you with sex. By essentially fighting for the right of women to sexualize themselves, I believe they are hurting women’s ability to be taken seriously in the professional world. But notice that the “slutwalk” got more participation than any public demonstration for women’s ability to work as executives.

    I didn’t have the time or knowledge to do a comparative study of mugging, rape, and terrorism as crimes of power. I’ve interviewed numerous clients who’ve expressed the belief that they had the right to rob someone because that person did something wrong, such as having more than they deserved or being too flashy with it. For the most part, these are rationalizations, attempts to justify doing what they knew was wrong. But not always. Further, it was seen as an excuse because they actually believed that it would be accepted as an excuse.

    Another thing that concerns me is that promoting the sexualization of women will cause more people to believe that a woman’s only role is sex.

    chickadee, you make an excellent point which I also addressed in an earlier comment: “I think one factor commonly overlooked is the will of the perpetrator. “

    • lilin says:

      “The logic that women have a right to dress slutty, therefore they should dress slutty, is bad logic. The most important question seems to me to be whether dressing slutty actually increases a woman’s chances of becoming victimized. If it does, then women shouldn’t do it any more than the rich guy should flash his money around.”

      I’m going to say this again. You said a guy shouldn’t flash his money around in a bar in a bad neighborhood. This is wrong. While there are plenty of places that guys can flash their money around and be treated well, or at least not fear for their safety, there is nowhere a woman can go that allows her to be completely safe from rape. No set of peers is rich enough to protect her. There’s also nowhere that a woman can go where people don’t know she’s a woman. She can never ‘hide’ the wallet, only make it slightly less obvious. When you make this comparison, you act like being a woman, which is a state that can’t be hidden, can’t be ended, and puts you in danger of rape anywhere is the same as being a rich man in a dangerous place choosing to flash his cash. *That* is bad logic.

      “The most important question seems to me to be whether dressing slutty actually increases a woman’s chances of becoming victimized.”

      In other words, you don’t know that it does. But you wrote an essay presuming it does, anyway. (“Of course, part of growing up means acting like an adult. We don’t go to bars and flash our money around. We don’t publish pictures of dead cult leaders while their cults are still active. We don’t incite people.”) That is also bad logic.

    • philtrum says:

      Simply put, I didn’t. I wrote about one element of it (one part of the object, as it were). The logic that women have a right to dress slutty, therefore they should dress slutty, is bad logic.

      I agree that it’s bad logic; it’s also not the point of SlutWalk. Nowhere in the excerpt you posted does it say women should wear less clothing — only that we are not to blame if someone rapes us.

      Of course, the counter-argument is the Martin Luther King Jr. argument that society needs to have this inequality of protection brought forward to its collective conscience. However, I think there are important differences between being able to go to a restaurant or hotel, and doing something that is designed to make people associate you with sex. By essentially fighting for the right of women to sexualize themselves, I believe they are hurting women’s ability to be taken seriously in the professional world.

      Have you ever heard the phrase “madonna-whore complex” or, for that matter, “concern trolling”?

      Is anyone at the SlutWalk demonstrations saying that women should start wearing vinyl bustiers and stripper heels to their office jobs? And outside of work, is there something inherently wrong with a woman wanting to be pretty and sexually appealing?

      But notice that the “slutwalk” got more participation than any public demonstration for women’s ability to work as executives.

      That doesn’t make any sense. What public demonstrations for women’s ability to work as executives? It’s entirely legal for a woman to become an executive. The barriers to women’s becoming executives are debated at length, but I’ve yet to hear anyone suggest that I can protect myself from violence by not trying to be an executive.

      Furthermore, most people aren’t executives, and that isn’t going to change. A hell of a lot more people get sexually assaulted than become executives, and virtually every woman has worn something at some point in her life that someone considered “slutty”.

  11. Neex says:

    I think the women are protesting the social pressure to shut up about reporting rape if you did something that left you vulnerable to it. Like I mentioned above—- is that what you would prefer? That women be silent if they know they made a mistake that left them vulnerable to rape?

    In my early twenties I had been a non-drinker for three years and finally agreed to drink a few beers with my coworkers. Guess how that panned out? fighting, bruises badness.

    Never reported because I drank four beers and didn’t know my own tolerance level. How can I report something if I did something stupid. Damn. When I see women joining in protest like this, I imagine a lot of them carry such wounds in silence and are happy to speak up, “I shouldn’t have to carry this in silence just because I did something that left me vulnerable— People shouldn’t do horrible things to each other. I hope other women will feel that society is on their side in reporting when these things happen if I stand up and show my support.”

    • JohnJ says:

      What I find most upsetting about that is society’s repeated condemnation of the voices that advise women not to put themselves in the position where those bad things tend to happen most. I’m totally in favor of bringing back the death penalty for rape. It amazes me that our own Supreme Court actually ruled that it was unconstitutional to put rapists to death. Try showing me that in the Constitution.

      But say anything about how people should avoid drinking too much, and stand ready to be condemned as being “pro-rape” or “anti-fun” or some such nonsense.

      • philtrum says:

        But you’re not being careful about what advice you give. You don’t have any evidence that wearing skimpy or tight clothing in itself increases a woman’s chances of being raped, and yet you based your post on the assumption that it does. Women get this kind of advice all the time, often based on nothing. You may not like the feminist idea that rape is a tool of social control — but when it’s used as a justification for telling women what to do, without any evidence, what do you call that?

        When the U.S. had the death penalty for rape it was even harder to get a jury to convict than it currently is. You would be doing victims no favours.

        • JohnJ says:

          @Philtrum,

          Normally I wouldn’t bother responding to the kind of closed-minded bigotry that presumes that anyone who doesn’t agree 100% must be an extremist hater. But I simply have to point out the astounding hypocrisy of accusing me of not having any evidence that wearing skimpy clothes increases a woman’s chance of being victimized while at the same time asserting that reinstating the death penalty for rape would make it harder to get a rape conviction. So, in order:

          1. The point of my post was not that dressing provocatively causes rape. Instead, my point, other than the primary one of bringing up what I thought would be a great conversation topic, was only that just because you have a right to do something, doesn’t make it a good idea. Since my point isn’t what you, in your with-me-or-against-me mentality, assumes, providing the evidence you ask for is simply unnecessary, and, in fact, off-topic.

          2. Even if your statement about the difficulty of getting a rape conviction is true, it would be far more likely that awareness of rape has contributed to higher conviction rates. You’re assuming without evidence (which is what you accuse me of) that the one caused the other. Using your (so-called) logic, we should do away with the death penalty for murder because that is what’s best for murder victims. (Although it would certainly be interesting to see if there were, perhaps, a backlash against the death penalty prohibition. But that would be a research topic for someone both smarter and less busy than I.) And higher conviction rates are not in themselves evidence of justice.

          3. One thing of which I am fairly certain is that the promoters of the “SlutWalk” have no evidence establishing that manner of dress is unrelated to rape. I’m absolutely certain that they’ve not established that mass sexualization of women has no detrimental effect to women in society. Advocating that women should dress suggestively just because they have a right to do so seems to me to be a misguided policy.

          No matter how many times I say that rape is never justified, you continuously accuse me of saying that it is. In all seriousness, you seem to have some difficult issues with this that might be better addressed by a professional counselor. However, given your unfair and unjustified attacks, I won’t be responding further.

          • philtrum says:

            What? Where did I accuse you of saying rape is justified? I don’t see where I said anything remotely like that in the comment you just responded to. I accused you of not being careful what advice you gave, concern trolling, and making gross assumptions. I may have insinuated you have a madonna-whore complex.

            The point of my post was not that dressing provocatively causes rape. Instead, my point, other than the primary one of bringing up what I thought would be a great conversation topic, was only that just because you have a right to do something, doesn’t make it a good idea.

            …which you illustrated by claiming, repeatedly and erroneously, that SlutWalk encourages women to dress slutty, and by suggesting that this is a bad idea because of rape. What’s the natural conclusion?

            Also, are you seriously unaware of the reams of feminist and academic writing about rape that have been produced over the past 40+ years? You thought it would be a great conversation topic…because you apparently didn’t know it’s been done to death. But it has been done to death. A bunch of women (i.e. the people you’re talking about in your post) come in and say, here is why I think you’re wrong, and and you throw a little tantrum and flounce away.

            As for the death penalty, you’re right; my general opposition to the death penalty clouded my judgment there. However, I live in an abolitionist country where the murder rate is significantly lower than it is in the U.S. as a whole, and U.S. states with the death penalty do not have lower murder rates than states without. And conviction rates were lower when the death penalty was prescribed for rape, although that may not be due to the death penalty itself. (Conviction rates are not evidence of justice, no; but do you really think that the vast majority of rape allegations that make it to trial are false?) I remain skeptical. And in the meantime, the death penalty is presumably a fairly abstract issue for us both, whereas you and many other men on this thread are doling out advice to me and other women on quite an intimate area of our lives. And when I say you shouldn’t feel entitled to do that, it’s Tantrum Time.

          • philtrum says:

            One thing of which I am fairly certain is that the promoters of the “SlutWalk” have no evidence establishing that manner of dress is unrelated to rape.

            And here is a little light lawyerese, Posner fan: the burden of proof is on the Toronto cop, not on them.

            Are you a 1L? You sound like one; it’s quite charming.

          • JohnJ says:

            I just graduated Saturday, thank you. What gave it away, the fact that my bio says I’m a law student? How incredibly insightful of you.

            And no, there’s no burden of proof on the cop.

            “Burden of proof” in a legal context usually (but not always) refers to the state having to prove its charges or a person who accuses another of causing harm. Let’s dismiss this ridiculous notion by pointing out that there’s no legal context here.

            So, despite the Posner reference, you must be referring to the common idea that the person making an assertion is responsible for providing evidence for it. Let me just point out here, again, that my point is that “I have a right to do something” is not in itself justification for doing it. I’ve substantiated that with logic and examples. I further believe that the sleight-of-hand involved in twisting the word “right” in this way is qualification for posting it here, because it’s a false leap that, if you’re not careful, you’re likely to make.

          • Psychohistorian says:

            You’re moving the goalposts pretty far with this response. Your post rests on the belief that dressing suggestively actually increases the probability of rape, and thus that dressing more conservatively would protect women, as opposed to having no effect or merely transferring targets. You have no evidence for this.

            On the death penalty issue, there actually is a significant and observed effect that the death penalty often reduces conviction rates. The history of murder laws shows this. Back in the day, murder (as well as robbery, burglary, arson, and a few other felonies) were mandatory death penalty crimes. This meant that in cases where people thought the defendant didn’t deserve the death penalty, the jury would often nullify the law. The concepts of first and second degree murder, and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter evolved largely to deal with this problem of nullification. This is also why other crimes are no longer DP elligible.

            Having a death penalty for rape provides a rather huge perverse incentive to murder your victim. Furthermore, I’m almost certain that the death penalty for rape was applied with extreme disproportionality to black men who raped white women, violating equal protection.

          • JohnJ says:

            “Your post rests on the belief that dressing suggestively actually increases the probability of rape, and thus that dressing more conservatively would protect women, as opposed to having no effect or merely transferring targets. You have no evidence for this.”

            No, that’s actually irrelevant to the blog post itself. As for the comment to which you’re responding, it doesn’t have to be true to support the comment. It just has to be possible. And it is.

            “On the death penalty issue, there actually is a significant and observed effect that the death penalty often reduces conviction rates. The history of murder laws shows this. Back in the day, murder (as well as robbery, burglary, arson, and a few other felonies) were mandatory death penalty crimes. This meant that in cases where people thought the defendant didn’t deserve the death penalty, the jury would often nullify the law. The concepts of first and second degree murder, and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter evolved largely to deal with this problem of nullification. This is also why other crimes are no longer DP elligible.”

            Maybe. I don’t think that the correlation necessarily proves causation, but it may be true. However, the Supreme Court is responsible for eliminating the death penalty for all crimes except murder. Maybe they did it to increase conviction rates for all crimes except murder, but I doubt it.

            “Having a death penalty for rape provides a rather huge perverse incentive to murder your victim. Furthermore, I’m almost certain that the death penalty for rape was applied with extreme disproportionality to black men who raped white women, violating equal protection.”

            Since most rape is acquaintance rape, I don’t think there’d be much incentive to murder one’s victim. However, when dealing with rapists, I certainly don’t claim to understand the mentality.

            The death penalty was applied disproportionally to blacks convicted of raping whites, just as it still is applied disproportionally to blacks convicted of murdering whites. However, that does not demonstrate a violation of equal protection because it may be true that the crimes in those particular instances were more savage in nature. (This is another example of how my statement only has to be possible for my point to be valid. I don’t have to prove that those crimes were actually more brutal for it to be possible that they were more brutal.)

          • philtrum says:

            Well, you keep bringing up the law in contexts where it’s not relevant. What a reasonable person according to tort law would do, what Posner says, etc. I knew you were a law student, but it was this former tendency that led me to believe you were a 1L. 2Ls and 3Ls aren’t usually quite so gung-ho on this neato system they discovered that has a concept that like totally explains everything.

            What the law says isn’t relevant to this discussion, because the criminal law, as far as I’m aware, says that violent crime is violent crime. But your reference to Posner isn’t relevant either, except as a fancy-pants way to say that people usually weigh the pros and cons (even if unconsciously) before they do stuff.

            I further believe that the sleight-of-hand involved in twisting the word “right” in this way is qualification for posting it here, because it’s a false leap that, if you’re not careful, you’re likely to make.

            Erm, okay? But we do have a legal right (yanno, with a remedy and all those fun things) not to be criminally assaulted. It’s kind of fundamental. You’re talking about SlutWalk as if the point were to defend the right to dress however we want, when that’s a side issue.

            If “provocative” clothing is just your jumping-off point for the novel argument that just because you can doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, and you don’t believe there actually IS any danger in wearing “provocative” clothing at all, then what’s the point of even bringing it up? Did you seriously just write an entire post based on a red herring?

          • DataShade says:

            At the root of a lot of “personal responsibility” talk, and a lot of the “get a concealed carry permit” talk is the comforting notion that any one person, with enough intelligence, courage, foresight, etc, can be prepared for any ill-fortune.

            That notion, seductive as it might be, is a lie.

            Also, all too often, victims of misfortune are later subjected to a (dare I, raised by Catholics and Jesuits, say) Calvinist scorn, to whit: “I’m a good person, who lives in God’s light, and nothing like this has ever happened to me; since my good fortune is definitely something I earned, what have you done to deserve such suffering?”

            When an optimist in the former category encounters someone who has met too many members of the latter, both sides neatly face their misconception of the other and fire broadsides until both sides limp away, thinking, “wow, that guy was a totally hostile douche.”

  12. Neex says:

    I would certainly recommend that women not get intoxicated near men, or ever, not ever go into a room alone with a man, not ever go into a room alone with a boss or co-worker— basically if women followed my advice they would stay in their houses and never leave.

    But it’s going to happen that women will drink and THINK they are with people they can trust until they find out later. How does that occurance fit into your belief system? If we tell women that drinking causes rape, how will that affect the self-blame that most every woman feels when something like this happens? How will that affect a man’s belief that if he can get her to drink, he deserves to rape her? If he can convince a girl to “have a few drinks” past her tolerance, than it’s her fault anyway, right?

    I DEFINATELY want women to be concerned about any man encouraging them to drink more. But how do we handle it if a woman misjudges the situation? When you’ve had a friend for a long time, you think you can trust them. Do we teach women to never trust men ever?

    • JohnJ says:

      You raise an important issue in the idea of freedom vs. security. The only way to be absolutely secure is to give up all of our freedom. But we don’t want to give up our freedom. I don’t think that wanting to keep some of our freedom means that we are to blame for everything bad that happens to us. I think we just have to find a reasonable balance that maximizes our freedom and security.

      For example, I know that going on a roller coaster is riskier than not going on the roller coaster. So if I go, and the coaster breaks down, do I deserve to die? I don’t think that’s the way it works.

      In tort law, these concepts are discussed by asking whether a reasonable person would do this. That’s not as helpful as it sounds, so the Law & Economics guys like Judge Posner ask whether the perceived benefit times the risk is equal to or greater than the investment. These are the ways lawyers look at it, so I thought I’d get that out there.

      It’s important to remember that rape is never justified. So it’s not a matter of deserve. No one deserves to be raped. It seems to me that the question is little different than how you can minimize your chances of being a victim of murder or robbery. Contra lilin, some parties and some bars are actually safer than other ones. Some outfits are actually less provocative than other ones. But even if you knowingly go by yourself to a bar where you don’t know anyone but you know that several rapes were reported from the area in the last week and you wear the most attention-getting outfit you can find, you don’t deserve to be raped. At the same time, you should probably go with a friend or a group to a bar in a safer part of town. And get a license to carry concealed and use it.

      • Neex says:

        The chances are not that someone from the bar will rape you. It’s the friends you should be worried about.

        • JohnJ says:

          It’s certainly true that most rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. I believe this is true of most crimes in general. While the strategies for minimizing the risk involved may be somewhat different, it remains true that absolute security is not reasonable. However, trust is no pass to wrong someone. For example, there are men who have been taken advantage of by women they trusted. In some of those cases, it could be argued that the men were unreasonably trusting, but the point for the rest of us should be about minimizing crimes committed against people. This includes advocating that people act both morally (not hurting anyone else) and responsibly (acting reasonably to protect themselves).

          Of course, no matter how irresponsibly someone may act, there is no justification for taking advantage of them. But that doesn’t mean that we should encourage people to behave irresponsibly.

          • Neex says:

            So having male friends is asking to be raped? Going to see a friend of ten years’s new house is asking to be raped? Getting a ride home with a male co-worker that you’ve know for years is asking to be raped? Dating someone and wanting to take it slow is asking to be raped?

            Define irresponsible again? As a man, do you think you’re an idiot for having female in your life that you would trust not to steal your money? Do you think that any woman who thinks that there are close men in her life that she would trust to not rape her is “irresponsible”?

          • JohnJ says:

            Neex,

            The accusations you are making are ridiculous and insulting. I never said or even implied anything of the sort. I won’t respond to you any further.

          • Neex says:

            (I find your comments insulting as well but I suppose that doesn’t matter to you.)

            Why did you say “Encourage women to behave irresponsibly?” How can women behave responsibly enough to be seen as truly innocent? I don’t think it’s possible from your standards, unless they literally treat every man they meat as a potential rapist no matter how many years they’ve known the person or how much trust they’ve built.

          • philtrum says:

            …and that’s why you shouldn’t fling around words like “irresponsible” when you’re not clear on exactly what behaviour you consider irresponsible. Someone will assume you meant “irresponsible” to apply to something other than the “irresponsible” act you had in your head (but neglected to write down) and then you will be butthurt, and then, well, I guess there’s nothing left to do but stomp away.

      • CubaLibre says:

        1. Doesn’t this completely ignore that most rapes are committed by familiar people? It doesn’t really matter where you go or what you wear if it’s your husband doing the raping. (It also makes it very unlikely that you’ll be willing to shoot him, CCW permit or no.) That was a big part of lilin’s post.

        2. Don’t you think there women actually have a vested interest in being able to wear provocative outfits safely? Shouldn’t women have the right to attempt to attract legitimate partners without concurrently having to live in abject fear, not only of getting raped, but of being judged and unable to find justice if they do? Girls don’t wear skimpy outfits to frat parties because they are idiots; they do it because they want to have sex… with men of their choice. That’s a legitimate interest. There’s no analogy to the “flaunting your wealth” example, because no one has a legitimate interest in flaunting his wealth – the only interest is braggadocio, i.e. making yourself look like a douche.

        3. People who object to people who say “hey, don’t dress like a slut” aren’t objecting to women intelligently limiting their chances to be raped while still living with an acceptable degree of expressive freedom. They’re objecting to a culture whose first instinct upon learning of a rape is, “hey, don’t dress like a slut.” It might be true that you can minimize your chances of being robbed by not wearing flashy jewelry in a bad part of town. But when people hear of a robbery this is not their first thought: well, what kind of watch was he wearing? That focus belies such people’s protestations that they’re really just advocating for women taking smart steps to avoid victimization. It shows that they treat rape as a crime where the victim has a uniquely high complicity in being the victim, when probably the opposite is more true (cf. lilin’s post).

        4. Everyone likens this rape prevention advice to robbery prevention advice. Doesn’t that analogize stolen property to whatever’s being “stolen” in a rape? Isn’t that horrifically crude and objectifying? A more appropriate analogy would be murder prevention, wouldn’t it? Your own life and control of your own sexuality would seem to be much more commensurate values than sexual control and, like, a wallet. So why don’t people talk about murder prevention? Because there really isn’t such a thing – the vast majority of murders are personal (or drug-related – certainly no one’s interested in giving those people advice) and there is no real good guide to murder prevention other than “don’t get involved in complex personal relationships with unstable, shitty people.” Which is not a really actionable piece of advice. Doesn’t that sound like it applies much more to the rape problem? Then why don’t people use that? Is it because then they wouldn’t have license to make the rape victim partially complicit in her own victimization?

        • JohnJ says:

          1. This is a valid issue that is unrelated to the point behind the blog post, however it has been addressed numerous times by me and other in the comments.

          2. There’s actually a(n imperfect) analogy to the wealth-flaunting example: men flaunt wealth in order to attract sexual partners of their choice.

          3. I don’t agree that people’s first instinct in rape is to blame the victim, no moreso than in other crimes, anyways. I’ve talked to plenty of people (mostly defense attorneys) who argue about the victim’s complicity in whatever crime was committed. This happens in every crime with a victim. But I think that we are more horrified by any implication that a rape victim may be anything less than completely virtuous. we establish special protections for rape victims because we view the crime, rightly, as far worse than a property crime.

          4. In the blog post, I also used the analogy of terrorism, and murder has been used as an analogy in the comments. People do talk a lot about how to reduce your chances of being a victim of any violent crime. And “don’t get involved with bad people” is perfectly suitable advice. I wish more people would follow it.

          • philtrum says:

            Again, re #3, you need to learn your legal history. Rape has not historically been treated like “any violent crime”, from the need to prove the victim’s “chaste character” in court, to the “utmost resistance” requirement, to the dismally low conviction rates that continue into the present day.

            You deal with defense attorneys and people accused of crimes, so you deal with people who make excuses in every sort of situation (I do not mean this as a slam against defense attorneys; that’s their job, and it’s a valuable one). Step outside of that world and you see an enormous difference between the way lay people speak of rape victims and the way they speak of other victims.

          • DataShade says:

            2.) Wuh, yeah, but men don’t get often get raped after flaunting their wealth so the analogy breaks down.
            3.) This is why I brought up privilege: you’re so enthusiastic about the proper application of law and legal theory that you’re missing the gap between theory and reality. As to the anecdotal evidence: defense attorneys say that victims are often complicit in the crimes they suffer from? Did you mean to say *prosecutors* or do you not see the inherent conflict of interest in what they allege?

        • philtrum says:

          Thank you for getting it, especially on #2 and #3.

  13. JohnJ says:

    Interestingly enough: Massachusetts High School Coach Fired After Criticism That Shirtless Boys Made Girls Uncomfortable http://articles.boston.com/2011-05-06/yourtown/29517416_1_track-team-tom-davis-westwood-coach

    Note that the coach wasn’t fired over this, but over something else. However, it is unlikely that this would have been reported absent his firing. But the Principal attempts to force the boys to conform to the girls’ sense of decency.

    Also bear in mind that no one is arguing that the shirtless boys deserved to be raped, just as no one is arguing that provocatively-dressed girls deserve to be raped.

    The primary difference is that the boys aren’t here being told to protect themselves for their own good, but rather to consider that they’re making others uncomfortable. The boys aren’t being told to protect themselves from being raped, which is a pretty important distinction.

    A better parallel for the blog post is what parents can do to protect their children from being victims of a crime. There are a lot of programs involving teaching kids to not talk to strangers or get into a car with strangers. We teach our kids this even though most child abusers are friends or family. But we would never say that a kid who did get into a car somehow deserved to be hurt. In fact, there are kids whose parents don’t do anything wrong, but who still wind up being victimized. That’s just not the point. Parents can do some things to teach their children safe behavior. Absolute security may not be possible, but we still ask parents to do what we think is reasonable. The point is about being reasonable.

    • DataShade says:

      The point is about being reasonable.

      Yes, it is, which the officer wasn’t, which is why he was, and now you are, being criticized.

      If what you wore controlled whether or not men raped you, there’d be women (and not a few men) lining up for the “Johnny Depp Rapemaker Collection.”

      If you want to say that’s too simplistic, that it’s not just what you wear, it’s a complex confluence of factors like dress and appearance, where you are, how you’re acting, how many friends are with you, whether you’re drunk or on drugs, etc – if that’s what you’re saying – then what I’m hearing is “when a predator sees that you’re vulnerable, you could be raped.”

      Now, if you don’t see the difference between telling a high school campus “predators look for signs of weakness” and “don’t dress like sluts,” then please promise me you’ll hire a friendly clerk to draft your letters and maybe do all your public speaking.

  14. whowashere says:

    The key mistake in your argument, which reflects the major fallacy of the patriarchal system, is the equating of a woman being blamed for rape by dressing sluttily and a rich man being mugged in a seedy bar for showing off his ‘fat wallet’.

    The motivations between these two crimes are worlds apart, as are the actions of the victims. Taking seriously, for the sake of argument, that rape is about sex, not power, then what is mugging about? Right, it’s about money, and so sex and money are morally and materially connected by this analogy. But has anyone ever starved to death, or been evicted, or failed to get health care, or been forced to get a job rather than an education because of lack of sex? Is having sex anywhere near as important materially as having money? Of course not.

    What the rapist takes is immaterial, it is of no use value to him, only psychical value. Similarly, what the rape victim loses is immaterial. This is not to say it is unimportant, it is, in fact, much more serious than what the rich man loses.

    What the rich man loses is property, and what the woman loses is much harder to define, and impossible to replace. The rich man can refill his wallet, he can even be insured against robbery, the rape victim cannot be un-raped.

    In the patriarchal world view, women’s sexual organs (and thus, body) are property equivalent to a man’s money. In other words, all women are seen as prostitutes, with their wealth constituted in their having a vagina, not unlike the banker who constitutes his wealth through stocks. Their sexuality is seen as a part of their economic value and not their fundamental personhood, and therefore, rape is a crime against property (like mugging) not against their person (like murder). Thus, like the rich man flashing his fat wallet at a crack squat, the attractive woman walking down the street is putting her property at risk. She should hide her “economic value” by always wearing sweat pants and a big lumpy coat, or at least on the street: in private parties she should be as attractive as possible in order to make the most of her economic value and snag a rich husband.

    • JohnJ says:

      @whowashere
      I agree with everything you said except the allegation that I equated mugging with rape. I did not. I pointed out that a rape victim is not to blame for her rape no matter what, just as a mugging victim is not to blame for his mugging. I also made this same point using terrorism as an example. There is no possibility of stretching the imagination far enough to say that I equated rape with mugging. That is simply not true.

  15. boeotarch says:

    I’m enjoying how neither the actual cop nor the actual case the cop was commenting on have come into this at all, only generalizations and hypotheticals.

  16. BluegrassJack says:

    Rape is one of those few subjective violent crimes where the victim can decide – after the fact – whether or not the crime took place. We know that there is both a criminal and a victim after most violent crimes: homicide, mugging, armed robbery, occupied home invasions, successful terrorist attacks, etc. The victim often is society itself.

    For discussion, a good starting point is Katie Roiphe’s book, The Morning After.

  17. Neex says:

    I think I see this in a totally different context than you JohnJ. I tried glancing at your blog, because I want to understand your perspective and in many ways I do. I DO believe you that you care about preventing crime and about the affects of crime. I think the hard part is that people who are tough on crime i.e. rapists should get death penalty— are often equally tough on a person who let a crime happen.

    If the crime happened due to my own negligience, do I deserve the punishment too? And in deed, in a lot of cultures women are punished equally or worse than men for being raped. That’s pretty scary and I’m certain not the direction you’re going with the sentiment that people should be responsible. But it’s very often the direction that some people will take that, which is why a lot of people will be kind of afraid that your attitude will result in more, “Hey if you got raped you must have been an idiot and if you were an idiot don’t expect me to give a crap” which is how a lot of people respond to finding out about rape— and particularly how people who get raped often think of themselves. “It doesn’t matter this happened to me, I was just an idiot.”

    If you get in a car crash it’s normal to think, what if I had been looking more carefully? What if I had swerved better? I can’t believe that happened, what if I had left the house five minutes sooner?

    Some of it is legitimate—Maybe you were fiddling with the radio and if you had been looking up you would have seen a a car swerving out of their lane toward you. Some of it is not, leaving five minutes earlier is a ridiculous idea since it would involve predicting the future which is impossible.

    So what I mean is, most people who get raped have a lot of guilt, “Why couldn’t I have fought harder, why did I get scared, why did my body betray me and have arousal, why did I trust that person, why did I not see what they were up to sooner, why did I not get the vibes they were going to do something bad, why did I believe he platonically wanted to show me something in his house, why was I not able to prevent this, why did I not stay far away from this person” on and on and on.

    I see the slutwalk as an act of saying, “Even if I messed up RAPISTS SHOULD NOT RAPE.” It’s an empowering message for any survivor or anyone who has ever watched someone go through it or just cares about that issue.

    I actually agree with you that I think it’s really hurtful for women to wear the sexiest possible clothes and then berate men for being aroused, or looking, or flirting, or being interested. I would like for both sexes to think about each other and behave with compassion and kindness. I can see how the slutwalk could feel rather like an attack towards some men, “I’m going to wear clothes designed to make you as horny as possible and hate you passionately if you then want to behave sexually!”

    That seems kind of mean spirited! So what I’m trying to say is that I think the entire meaning of this “Slutwalk” can be entirely changed based on what you THINK the purpose is. And that’s rather subjective. I don’t think the reason this many people are walking really has anything to do with what the cop said at all, or that it’s purpose is to enfcourage provacative dress. I think it’s because a lot of women have been sexually abused, raped, assaulted and have dealt with people around them berating them with messages of what idiots they were for not preventing it.

    I would stand up against that too.

    • philtrum says:

      I can see how the slutwalk could feel rather like an attack towards some men, “I’m going to wear clothes designed to make you as horny as possible and hate you passionately if you then want to behave sexually!”

      Well yeah, but…the complaint was about sexual assault, not sexual feelings or desires. It’s important that we maintain the distinction.

    • philtrum says:

      I just noticed that the two visible people holding “slut pride” signs in the Toronto photo are men. The only identifiable people in the photo who are showing significant amounts of skin are men.

      Does this change your interpretation at all?

  18. JohnJ says:

    In my opinion, there are a lot of ways to reasonably disagree about what I originally wrote. Some people have argued that the Slutwalk isn’t about promoting provocative behavior. The use of the word “slut” is merely ironic, or an attempt to confront the issue that a victim never deserves to be assaulted. This may be the intent behind the idea, but I ask you: is that the effect? The effect seems to me to be, instead, to both encourage women to behave in an attention-getting way and to encourage men to sexualize women, as though her sexual identity were her most important one. This is what I tried to address by pointing out that it’s not necessarily a good idea to do something just because you may have a right to do it.

    Several commenters have asked or made statements regarding whether a criminal targets a woman for how she dresses. Many have pointed out that most rapes are acquaintance rapes. These are very good question, the answers to which I do not know, and I’m willing to bet that most people don’t know either, though certainly everyone has their beliefs. Note that there are two types of incitement being addressed here: an individual one and a social one. Does the way a woman dresses affect whether a rapist targets her at the individual level? I find that unlikely to have much affect. The social question I find more interesting. I don’t know, but I’d be willing to bet that a culture of sexualization promotes dehumanizing behavior. I would be willing to wager that it causes both men and women to see women as sex objects. It seems to me that promoting the humanization of women would lead to less rape. It cannot be emphasized enough, in my opinion, that women, like men, have identities, and goal, and values that have nothing to do with sex.

    I also do not believe that teaching women there is nothing they can do is empowering them. Empowerment, to me, means teaching women what they can do. And I have repeatedly stressed that the victim is never to blame.

    But many have also pointed my mistakes, which need to be addressed. To use DataShade’s terminology, I was too flippant in my post in trying to make a small point that I failed to address a serious issue with the respect I should have. Rape, unsurprisingly, is a traumatic experience even for those women who’ve not been directly victimized. Given that there is a real history of blaming the victim in cases of rape, there is a legitimate reason to fear the resurrection of that kind of attitude. I should have been more careful to avoid language which would incite that fear.

    Rape is not sex, but cultural attitudes towards sex are often interwoven with society’s approach to rape. As such, the flippant approach I took merely glossed over the complexity of the issue, which, given how deeply people feel towards it, was inappropriate.

    For that, I apologize.

    • JohnJ says:

      “effect” not “affect”. I hate that.

    • Neex says:

      Well I’m glad that you expressed your concerns. I think they are perfectly valid. I too am worried that young girls are learning to sexualize themselves for men and getting a lot of confusing messages about what their sexuality means and how they should allow themselves to be treated, and how they should treat others. In fact I’m concerned for young men too. There are so many confusing and conflicting messages about what it means to be a good man and how to treat women and what to think about promiscuity when men do it and when women do it, and whether it’s a good/bad/neutral thing. And how to view hook-up culture and pick-up culture and polyarmory and what abuse is, and what exploitation is and what the hell does all of it mean?

      I appreciate your consideration of how your words were interpereted and I also apologize if I misinterpereted your words as well.

      Conversations like this are often difficult to have, but I personally believe worth having. I thank you for bringing up the topic and for listening to the responses.

    • philtrum says:

      Thank you for recognizing that this is a very personal, intimate, and serious matter for people, and for your apology.

      I think I see your point, but is telling a woman that she doesn’t deserve to be violently attacked if she acts in an attention-getting way “encouraging” her to behave that way? Because “you don’t deserve to be horribly physically violated for doing that” doesn’t seem like a ringing endorsement to me. Is the perceived threat of rape, then, somehow necessary to keep women from engaging in “attention-getting” behaviour? Would nothing else be adequate?

      What exactly makes you think these women are “sexualizing themselves”? The mere use of the word “slut”? Is there anything else in the photo or event description that suggests that people are there to announce their willingness to have sex in a “slutty” way?

      Is it the marchers’ problem if not everyone can appreciate the irony?

      And does male attraction to women necessarily involve dehumanization? Is it a given that a man who is turned on by a woman, or who sees her as a sexual being, will stop seeing her as a person with thoughts, feelings, and rights? Is this how you think men innately are? Or is there something else at work?

      • JohnJ says:

        Blaming the victim, whether it’s a rape victim or any other victim, for the actions of the victimizer is wrong.

        While attraction doesn’t involve dehumanization, sexual objectification, whether of women by men, men by women or of women by women, necessarily does. Objectification, as I understand it, means dehumanization. Embracing being objectified is not empowerment, in my opinion.

        • philtrum says:

          But that doesn’t answer my question. How is dressing in a way that (many) men find sexually attractive “embracing being objectified“?

  19. JohnJ says:

    Related update: rape victims criticize “blame the victim” culture at Peace Corps. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/us/11corps.html?_r=1

  20. JohnJ says:

    This lady seems to agree with me: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/slut_walk_feminist_folly_6wtwkoKdY0RgRtGfWTe47H

    If you don’t like the slut walks, then you just don’t get the hilarity of women debasing themselves in the name of empowerment…

    “I think we have lost consciousness of the way our culture demeans women. Let’s not kid ourselves that this is liberation.”

    Yes, please, and let’s not pretend that women holding “slut walks” is a step forward for womankind or will in any way change the treatment of rape victims.

    While the so-called feminists are tarting up themselves to reclaim a vile, misogynist word, perhaps the rest of us should fight to reclaim the word “feminism” and return it to its roots of working for true equality.

    If we leave it to this gang, we’re screwed.

    • philtrum says:

      “I found one member of the group I’m talking about who agrees with me” is the new “some of my best friends are black.” Weak.

      • JohnJ says:

        I see that you can’t argue logically with her any more than you could with me.

        • philtrum says:

          Well, why did you post her comment then, with the specific observation that she was female? She makes the same arguments you did; did you really expect me, or anyone, to respond to them differently coming from a woman? If I had, wouldn’t you just accuse me of misandry or of judging arguments based on who makes them rather than their intrinsic merits?

          Hell, why haven’t you responded to any of my points above? What is the difference between dressing to attract and dressing to get objectified and dehumanized? Who decides?

          I think we’ve established, repeatedly, that my understanding of SlutWalk is different from yours. If an event occurs in which women are told to get semi-nude and walk down the street cock-teasing as many men as possible, I will join you and Random Internet Woman in calling that a waste of time. I’m not going to defend an event that, as far as I can tell, didn’t actually happen.

          • JohnJ says:

            You don’t see a difference between dressing nicely and dressing with the intent to cause someone to view you as a sexual object? Because any form of dress could be interpreted sexually? There’s no, like, commonly understood sexually-suggestive manner of dress?

            Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Marilyn vos Savant: “A ‘bimbo’ is a man who wears a revealing shirt and short pants when he wants to look his best because he believes that his chest and legs are his most important assets, that it’s advantageous for a man to look ‘sexy’ (without looking cheap, of course), and that men who think otherwise are either guilty of stereotyping, old-fashioned prudes, or just plain envious of his nice knees. (P.S. There are female ‘bimbos,’ too.)”

          • philtrum says:

            No. There are more and less tasteful ways of dressing, but I don’t think there is a way that a woman can dress that makes it natural and acceptable to dehumanize her.

            But since I’m apparently wrong on this point, please do elaborate. How much cleavage takes me from “human being” to “object”? How short can my skirt be before I fall on the wrong side of the person-object line? If I wear a tank top, is that too much? What if I’ve gained some weight and my jeans are tighter than they were last month? Is it different if I have small breasts, versus big ones? What sort of hosiery should I wear to avoid participating in my own objectification? Can I wear heels? How high? Jewellery? Makeup? How much? What colours? Can I paint my nails?

            And if someone sexually harasses me despite my best efforts to stay within your guidelines for Dressing Like A Person, what then?

          • philtrum says:

            And yes, any form of dress can be interpreted sexually. Ask a woman who has been sexually harassed (i.e. almost all of us).

          • philtrum says:

            And I do have to wonder why you are so very concerned that women should not dress in ways you find titillating. I have a personal stake in this, but why do you care? Are you concerned about stumbling?

          • JohnJ says:

            I don’t think there is a way that a woman can dress that makes it natural and acceptable to dehumanize her.

            Of course there is. Why do you think prostitutes dress the way they do?

          • JohnJ says:

            If an event occurs in which women are told to get semi-nude and walk down the street cock-teasing as many men as possible, I will join you and Random Internet Woman in calling that a waste of time.

            Why wouldn’t you defend that? You’re arguing that it doesn’t matter, so why does it matter here?

          • sunshinefiasco says:

            JohnJ, while I dig what you’re saying on one level (there are people who dress suggestively, fully aware of the fact that they are being looked at as a sex object, and there’s something to be said for heading trouble off at the pass), your Marilyn vos Savant (also, really? the lady from Parade magazine? (yeah, yeah, I know, the IQ, okay)):

            Historically, the objectification (and buying and selling) of men has consisted of turning them into objects of work. There are lazy men and hardworking men (bad men and good men), but work is the important part: you can be a shitty husband, broke, and ugly as sin, but if you are compentent at your job, you can still be called a good man. You still have value to society as a whole.

            Historically, the objectification (and buying and selling) of women has consisted of turning them into objects of sex (or childbirth, which = sex). There are slutty women and faithful women (bad women and good women) but sex(/childbearing) is the important part: you can be a horrendous bitch, bad in bed, and ugly as sin, but if you have a functioning vagina(/womb) and keep your legs shut the rest of the time, you can still be called a good woman. You still have value to society.

            That’s why you could be dressed as a nun (regular, not sexy halloween style-) and still get sexually harassed.

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