She got butt-spanked on the street because she was wearing a skirt. She was raped because she does not wear the Hijab. She got verbally assaulted because she was “too sexy”. Clothing is a factor that attracts rapists.
There are so many wrongs with these statements. I used to believe that such points of view were quite extinct, but turns out they are still widespread in this society.
Yesterday was women’s day (and that’s no cause to celebrate when one women dies each month from domestic violence, so let’s put the cake aside). Yesterday was the day when I became sure of my decision to be a Feminist. Yesterday, I heard horrific statements from classmates, colleagues, and friends. Yesterday, images of my mother and sister went through my head as I was hearing horrific expressions coming from pure patriarchy and inhumanity. Statements coming from people I share a class with, people living in the same building as mine, people whom I thought were the hope of the future.
I have not quite lost faith in humanity yet, but I need to put out all the ‘ideas’ that have been boiling in my head ever-since these people started opening their mouths to utter them.
So, rape and assault. There are still people out there who still believe that women are to blame in incidents of rape. The goal of this post is to refute those beliefs in 9 points or less.
1- “It’s about what she was wearing.”
I was walking in Bliss Street last Thursday when I saw a lady wearing the Hijab getting eyeballed and receiving degrading hand gestures from a disgusting taxi driver stuck in traffic.
Also, an elderly nun was raped and killed in Ireland. I’m very certain nun clothing is not very provocative, is it?
A wide array of scientific research and personal stories deny statement number one.
2- “If it’s not clothing, what is it then? Do I hide my kids?”
The factor is vulnerability. If the victim comes across as a vulnerable person, he/she becomes a possible target of assault/rape. It’s a matter of predator and prey – vulnerability is everything.
A ‘conservatively-dressed’ woman is walking on the street, would a predator call her names?
A woman wearing a mini-skirt walks down a street, would a predator call her names?
A woman wearing a mini-skirt walks down a street, but is holding a gun, would a predator call her names?
A woman wearing a mini-skirt walks down a street, but is walking with a muscular guy, would a predator call her names?
It’s all in vulnerability.
3- “Girls in miniskirts get assaulted more than those in Hijab.”
I will reply to this with a simple photo:
The third statement is not true. “There is the obvious fact that in a society where most women are veiled, then widespread sexual harassment will fall most heavily on veiled women rather than the minority which refuses to adopt veiling. More than that, though, I suspect that when a woman veils then she is seen as signaling that she submits to the patriarchal assumptions about a woman’s “proper” place in society and subordinate position relative to men. Unveiled women, in contrast, are seen as signaling that they don’t submit — that they challenge patriarchal demands.” – Austin Cline
Let’s ask a veiled woman. “Ladies that wear Hijab, they still attract men. I know because, even when I’m wearing Hijab, I get a lot of men that still try to get my attention, flirting and going on. So even if you wear Hijab, men will still want to get your attention, so for a two year old it’ll be the same,” Olefa Ali said.
“I have met a great many attractive women, and have seen virtually none of them naked, and very few in skimpy attire – yet I still would label them as attractive.” says Pulitzer Laureate.
I am not against woman wearing the Hijab. It is like me wearing red pants. Everyone has the right to dress in what suits their liking. But that will not plainly affect your chances of being assaulted.
4- “Attractive girls get assaulted more than ugly ones.”
Rapists don’t really care about how attractive someone is. Rape is not about attraction, it is about power and opportunity.
Next you’ll ask why fat or ugly children are worried about being molested by pedophiles.
5- “Do these men feel bad for assaulting a girl? How can they accept it?”
These men rationalize their behavior through the excuses we provide them with. I can kiss up to her boobs if she’s wearing a T-shirt, since by wearing a T-shirt she is doing something wrong and “asking for it”. As long as the men are able to rationalize their behavior as a just response to women who are doing something wrong, they are virtually certain to keep it up. If we, as a society, make their excuses invalid, they will stop using them. If we spread the fact that clothing does not matter, less men will be able to excuse themselves from feeling guilt.
And feeling guilt is a good start.
6- “More people on the street = less chances of assault”
This is not about burglary (which is socially undesirable by everyone). This is about patriarchy.
“As women, we follow our grandmother’s advice — not to come home late, walk in a crowded area because people can protect you and never walk down a dark or desolate street — and we know all this very well – But what [our research showed] was something completely different from the stereotypes — sexual harassment occurring in crowded areas, even if the women were covered from head to toe.” – Gulf News
Assault takes place everywhere. From the the busy main street of Hamra at 8PM, to the not-very-crowded Kornish El Manara at 6AM.
7- “Women who appear to be from the opposite religious faith of the predator are more likely to be harassed.”
If that was true, I’d like to question what good this religion would be bringing upon that particular society, and what morals it would be really teaching – especially when it
comes to how it looks at women who do not ‘follow’ what that religious preaches.
8- “She deserves it.”
No one deserves it. I won’t even honor this with a reply.
9- “What can I do not to come across as vulnerable then?”
After making the point that clothing is not what really matters, some women might ask this question. The real answer is simply not appearing as a vulnerable person – not appearing as a subordinate of a horrific patriarchal system. Stand up for yourself when you can. When someone calls you “Ya Ashta”, do not just ignore and keep walking, reinforcing their behavior. Know how to fight back and be strong. For if you do not revolt, no one will ever do it for you.
It won’t happen overnight, but we are fighting.
And we will get there.