19% of the respondents believe that women may provoke or encourage sexual assault when they are drunk.
15% believe women can encourage or provoke sexual assault by flirting with a man.
11% per cent think women can encourage or provoke sexual assault when they wear short skirts.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog where I said I wanted to teach my daughter how to be safe from sexual predators.My point was that there are behaviors that carry risk. To use the classic example, I would caution my daughter not to walk down a dark alleyway alone. In fact I would caution pretty much everybody to not walk down dark alleyways alone.
What I will not do is tell my daughter that her clothing choice will provoke potential rapists.
I won’t do this for two reasons;
1. There is no correlation between clothing style and rape: The clothing women wear seem to have nothing to do with their being raped. Rape has existed long before thongs, mini skirts, and halter tops. Rape exists in cultures where it is normal for women to show nothing except their eyes. And rape exists in cultures where it is normal for women to wear almost no clothing. Children who are dressed as children tend to be are raped. Seniors who dress as seniors tend to are raped. There is no magical skin to clothing ratio that suddenly puts a person at more or less risk of being raped. It is time we move past this idea.
2. Men are not beasts: I am the only person responsible for my sexual drive and desires. Period. As a happily married man who wants to remain a happily married man I have to take responsibility for my sexual desires.My wife is not obliged to satisfy me whenever the mood strikes. Also because I am not a robot there are times where I find other women attractive and desirable. But I am also not a carnal beast. Just because my sexual desire was aroused doesn’t mean I have to act on it; or that I have a right to act on it. I would be willing to guess, like me most other people’s sexual desires aroused more often than they can rightly act on. Saying that flirting, clothing and alcohol ‘provoke’ men are allowing men to get away with acting like sharks in chummed water. We are, or at least we should be far better than that. It is here that I find my voice joining with the chorus of so many others saying, ‘teach men not to rape not women not to be raped’.
I understand why so many people want to believe that clothing, flirting, and a few drinks will provoke rape. When we see bad things happening to other people we want to believe that those same bad things won’t happen to us. We want to believe that it was some how their fault. We want to believe that if we act differently we will be safe.
I understand that desire.
But it is time to put that desire aside. It is time to start doing the things that will actually help people stay safe. Like teaching men sex is not a right, no matter how turned on someone makes you.