I was listening to the my favorite radio station (News 95.7) on Tuesday and both Maritime Morning and The Todd Veinotte Show discussed a recently released Canadian survey that stated;
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.
TRUTH! It is so nice to see a Christian man write this. Often times, this subject is lumped in with modesty in the Christian rhetoric and then the blame is placed right back on the woman. (I was thinking about modesty the other day and how it is completely subjective. A burka-wearing Muslim’s concept of modesty differs greatly from a long-skirt wearing Christian’s concept of modesty which also differs greatly from my own personal sense of modesty.We can’t tell women that they are at fault for a sexual assult because they are not fitting a subjective standard of modesty.
I find too often the Christian rhetoric does make men entirely weak and directed by his sexual desires (which is, again, why the onus is placed on women to protect them by being modest). This is so far removed from the Christian truth that God gave us free choice and it leads down very dangerous roads. A Christian friend that I was interested in in high school told me straight up that males couldn’t be expected to wait for marriage to have sex – even Christian males. It simply was not possible. So he dated me until he found someone else who would sleep with him.
My comment might be going off topic a bit but I am just appreciative of your perspective.
I hear you Laura. I have always been personally offended when it is suggested that teens/men/boys can’t control themselves. I am not a beast.
And while I do think there is the right time and place to talk about modesty, and purity I think we have to be very very very mindful to not connect the Christian virtue of purity to cultural modesty to the right women have to be safe from sexual violence.
They are three important but three different topics.
Also on behalf of Christian men everywhere allow me to apologize for the things your ex ‘Christian’ boyfriend said.
Raising a daughter, this is a subject that has popped into my mind a time or two…I won’t always be there to hold her hand and it can be a scary world out there! I actually just heard a perfect example of standing up for what is right! One of my friends has a teenage son who’s 14. I guess there was a party or something scheduled to happen recently and he overheard a few boys saying they were going to get this girl drunk and take advantage of her…Disgusting! Especially that this was a planned thought! Well, my friends son manned up and told the girl what he’d heard. The girls mother came to the school one day to personally thank him for standing up for what was right and hugged him and cried. I hugged him too and told him what an amazing thing he did. Just thought I’d share. Scary stuff but with a happy ending this time…
I am very glad to hear that, that gives me a lot of hope. I hope my boys will be equally noble and brave if the situation were ever to come up.
Likewise I hope if they were ever at a party and saw the beginnings of something awful that they would also know to call for help be that me, Meghan, another adult or the police.
I am sure it has always been scary raising children, but lately it just seems to go from bad to worse, to even worse.
I applaud this young man. He actually took action and prevented an assault. We need more young men like him. Young people like him will change this ‘rape culture’ we find ourselves in.
This is so disheartening. Nobody is responsible for rape but the rapist. Period. No arguments. None. That is fact. Anyone should be able to walk down a public street completely naked without fear of being assaulted (arrested yes, assaulted no). We are not doing a very good job in Canada of educating the public on this subject.
You’re right men/boys are not beasts and for far too long we have had our standards far too low for males. This is unfair to men and women alike. I was watching a movie the other night and it was a teenage party where the girl got really drunk. Her male friend took her home and put her to bed and left. The next day everyone was gushing about how great he was and the girl even said ‘he had the opportunity to have sex with me and he didn’t he’s the greatest’. I’m thinking, since when do you get brownie points for NOT RAPING someone! yes it was a nice thing to do to make sure she got home safely, but you don’t get points for NOT RAPING her! It just showed how we praise men for doing what they’re supposed to do, in this case observe someone’s human rights, because they have been portrayed as animals.
I just hope the tide is starting to turn on this subject . I hope that our generation is starting to raise their children with this understanding.
I am concerned with how many movies show women waking up next to a strange man after a night of heavy drinking and not knowing who he is or how she got there. That leaves people with the impression that a very drunk women is open to sex with random guys, and that hilarity will ensue afterward.
Great post. There is no excuse, no justification. And Holly’s sentiments – spot on.x