Yesterday, I dressed in one of my snappiest suits, did up my hair, threw on a smile and following the direction of my lovely gal, headed on down to the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market where Saskatoon’s very own slut-walk was about to be staged. Why was I happy as all hell to be marching along side people holding signs such as “If you want to fuck me, ask first” or “This slut was born to walk!” Well, maybe a little background first.
At a York University, speaking to a small group of Students, Toronto police Const. Michael Sanguinetti spoke the following words during a routine safety talk.
”I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,”
Perhaps he should have thought a little harder on why he wasn’t supposed to say that. While some people have stood up in defence of this sentiment, I remain vehemently opposed even after reading all of the sober second thought applied to this statement. While I understand that some people may agree with the sentiment, I certainly do not and this is why I participated in Saskatoon’s slut-walk.
So why do I think that the sentiment expressed above is disappointing, why would I go so far as to attend a march to scream and yell to express my viewpoint? I mean, couldn’t there be some sense to the notion that if you dress in a manner that is sexually suggestive that you should expect some kind of sexual contact even if you don’t want it? Hmm…when you type it out it seems even more idiotic. I mean, I’m sorry but my god I can’t even figure out how to play devil’s advocate on this one.
Even when I was showing my muscles off, I had nothin' on this guy!
When I was younger and in shape, I did take to dressing in a way that I figured would show off my best attributes. Tight fitting t-shirt to show off the chest, chain around the neck to draw more attention to aforementioned top-booty, jeans and a kickin’ belt….you know, all that stuff that I figured would help me scream out “I’M ONE SEXY SON OF A BIOTCH!” Did that mean I was actively soliciting sexual contact between me and anyone that happened to come within eye shot of me? Certainly not and I don’t think it at all abnormal to consider that women dressed provocatively may not be after sexual advances. In fact, I think it a completely childish way to think about sex.
Maybe this could be explained differently.
When I dressed to impress, (impress hormones mainly) it was in the hopes that whoever I found attractive would find me attractive as well. It was in the hopes that when I approached some one with a desire to…mingle…that they would be able to look at me and think of something other than whether or not it would be possible to produce a profitable documentary on the life and times of local hobos. I still like to dress in a way that makes me look good, appealing and sexy but that doesn’t mean I’m looking for sex around every corner or that I am even expecting come-ons from every one that sees me. It simply means that I’m trying to look good because I like to be judged positively when I initially come into contact with some one. Sometimes I may dress in a way that could see people assume I’m more down to earth or maybe I just want to limit my interactions with people. Whatever the case, I dress how I like and this seems entirely reasonable because I’m a guy. It mystifies me that this standard some how can not be applied to women.
So this brings me back to how childish I think the assumption that women are “asking for it” is. Maybe I’m way off here but it seems flat out juvenile to me that some one could ever say that, because a woman dresses in a sexy manner, she should expect sexual contact even if she doesn’t want it. isn’t this akin to saying that we should totally just expect rape to happen and that it’s some how justified? It doesn’t seem all that dissimilar to me.
The origines of many an arsonist
When I was 14, I had a lot of pent up wants. I mean, my god that was one heck of a difficult time but it was rather plain and obvious to me that no matter my desires, it wasn’t ok for me to jump some one in the halls at high school or anywhere else if I wasn’t invited to do so…and damn did I ever want an invite. If I could understand that at 14, why do so many adults seem to think it’s some how reasonable that women are victimized when they dress in a way that they prefer to dress? Actually, this seems less and less juvenile now that I think about it (I controlled myself just fine when I was a juvenile after all) and just plain sickening. If at 14 I could grasp that people aren’t supposed to be subjected to sexual attacks simply because the attacker wanted to do what they did, why is it some how just a fact of life that some grown adults can’t grasp the same notion?
So, this is all why I am proud to have marched in Saskatoon’s slutwalk. The sign I carried read “COSENT IS SEXY” and spoke very loudly to my way of thinking about all this. Consent is after all very sexy when you’re asking to have sex with some one; rape is not. Consent is a carry over of our desires and a mutual point of contact between two people. Rape is an invasion of a person in the most direct manner of thinking possible. It should be clear that this issue speaks not to human sexuality specifically but much more directly to the notion that women and men both should be able to feel entirely secure in the security of their person. Some one should be able to walk naked down the street secure in the knowledge that they will not be attacked because no matter what you may think of a person doing such a thing, attacking them and violating their rights as a human beings is still wrong.
Finally, I wanted to respond directly to some comments as posted on the CBC’s website. The CBC ran a story about slutwalk in Saskatoon and the comments were absolutely incredible to me. Some really stuck out at me and I think they merit some type of commentary.
Always ready said:
The statement by the police constable wasn’t to shift blame or to say that the perpetrators are justified – he was simply giving honest well intended advice.
‘Don’t dress to arouse men and be surprised when it works’.
I’m sure the people that advertise their car stereo equipment in the windows of their car are told the same thing – don’t display what you have – sombody might want it.
It may have been well intended but what’s that old saying? The road to hell is paved with well intentions?
As I mentioned above, in my past, I dressed well to impress people I wanted to be attracted to me. That didn’t for a second mean that I dressed to signal to all people that I was looking for unwanted advances. The comment is right on at least one count though. We shouldn’t be surprised when sexually attractive people who dress well attract other people. We should however be disgusted when those people attracted to sexy people violate the rights of those people by making unwanted sexual contact with them.
RU4Real9 said the following.
Wear expensive jewelry, you could get mugged.
Look at someone too long, you could get into a fight.
Say something wrong to someone, you could get into a fight.
Drink too much, you could get into an accident or kill someone.
Leave your doors at home/car unlocked, you could get broken into.
Walk/ride in a bad area of the city, you could get attacked, stabbed or shot.
Wear colors of a gang, you could get attacked
Yell at a bad driver, you could get road raged.
Get drunk act like an idiot, you get labeled as an idiot.
Get drunk and pass out, you could get taken advantage of by a jerk.
Wear classy clothing, you will be thought of as a classy person
Wear provocative, sleazy clothing; you will be thought of as a tramp and wanting some
RU4Real9 Included the following in her comment as well at the very end.
Everyone must take responsibity for their actions and quit blaming others, as your actions could get yourself into a predicament you can’t get out of .
Is it just me or does that seem kind of contradictory? It really does seem to me that this is blaming the victim for being attacked. I take note that the comment includes gang colours. When I lived in Winnipeg, I found out that much of my wardrobe was not to be worn on the street in a certain area of town because I would have gotten attacked as a gang member but I certainly didn’t think it was right. I didn’t think “I shouldn’t wear these cloths” but rather “I should be able to wear these clothes if I want to. This is totally unfair!” and perhaps that should be the default attitude more often that it is.
If you make a habit out of leaving your car unlocked and running while going to liquor stores in dodgy areas it will probably be stolen eventually. That certainly doesn’t mean that the thief is justified in stealing your car. It does, however, mean that you’re a fool, and the police would rightly tell you that when you reported your car stolen.
Here’s the thing, our bodies are always locked. No one has default permission to enter and no matter how attractive the body looks, it’s still only owned and operated by one person and one person only. Actually, while some may think that the anecdote is rather good, I think it’s a rather inadequate one. It’s more like parking a very fancy and expensive car in a bad part of town and leaving it locked and on display. Whatever the case, whether you left it locked or not, it’s not your fault that it gets stolen and as the victim, you shouldn’t be left to feel as though it was or that you may be mocked and ridiculed when you report the crime to the police.
A little common sense is required. I don’t tuck dollar bills into my belt when I’m walking around Mexico.
Which seems an odd way to think about it. I think common sense would be great indeed…and conversely, I should make mention that while I have been in a few strip clubs, I’ve never jumped up on stage, tossed off my pants and went looking for anything with two legs and a heartbeat. That seems rather common sense to me. Common sense is best when it translates into something like “sexually assaulting some one is bad!”
“Real man” Harv33z posted:
If you want to be treated like a woman (respect ,courtesy etc) then dress and act like one. As for sexy well a glance, a sly smile can be far more sexy than clothing that reveals all because sexy is more about how you carry yourself than how much skin you show. Just a real mans opinion!!!!
I’m left rather bewildered. We should be treated according to how we dress? Fine, I can buy that up to a point seeing as I dress to illicit certain reactions sometimes but maybe this real man is missing the point. Am I wrong in thinking that no matter how you dress, you shouldn’t be subjected to sexual assault?
And it goes on…
Look, here’s the bottom line. People do seem to generally understand that no matter how some one is dressed, raping them isn’t ok but where the common sense understanding of the world gets a little more hazy is perhaps when people start to think of what a personal display may mean.
When I dressed attractively in years past, it was for everybody on varying levels. For the people I passed on the street it was to show that I was attractive in my own ways. For people who interacted with me, it was to show that I cared about my appearance and wanted to present myself in a way that would make a base impression (whatever that impression could have been) on them. Depending on how I interacted with others, it was to show that I was attractive or even sexually desirable in my own ways. Whatever the case, one outfit never necessarily was supposed to mean one thing to every one who saw me and for others, I imagine it is much the same.
In the end, it is my firm and staunch belief that if you’re out in public, at a friends, at work or in your own home, you should not have to fear being attacked for appearing a certain way. No matter your appearance, you are still the sole owner and operator of your own body and it should always be that way.