The Shouty Woman

June 2, 2006

The Blame Game

Filed under: Feminism — by Lucy @ 11:56 am

 

I know I'm coming a bit late to the 'can short skirts be feminist?' debate (see here and here), but it's something I think about quite a bit and I want to add my two cents.

I and the other members of Protest Now, a feminist Yahoo group, were appalled when two soi-disant feminists argued that if a woman wears 'slutty' clothes, she should take some of the blame for being raped. If the blatant victim-blaming weren't enough, this argument also suggests that we should choose what to wear based not on our own personal preference, but on the potential reactions of others.

Now I think this is bullshit.  I love clothes; I love shopping for them and I love wearing them. I choose clothes because they make me look and feel good, because I love beautiful things, because after an adolesence spent imprisoned by crippling shyness, I finally love my body and myself. I don't let fashion magazines dictate what I should wear, so why should I let anyone else? i no longer wear my miniskirt because I got sick of the constant attention I received, but if stronger women than me want to wear short skirts and brave the catcalls, why should they be blamed? Why, yet again, are women taking the blame for men's actions?

This kind of attack on women's autonomy would be depressing enough if it were coming from the usual suspects, but that fact that it's coming from active feminists makes it many times worse. After all, surely we should be on the same side? We all have the same goal, so why the sudden need to blame the victim? I think I know the answer.

These feminists are equating our right to dress as we please with the 'sex positive' argument that women have the 'right' to strip and pose for men's magazines. This is a false analogy. When Jordan (or whoever) is on the cover of FHM, many thousands of women will see her picture, airbrushed and silicone-enhanced, and hate their bodies a little more. With every magazine that is sold, the idea that women=sex will gain a little more ground. Yes, this hurts women, and I hate it; however it does not follow that women's freedom to dress as they please should be curtailed.

It's true that too many girls and women feel the need to emulate Jordan/ [insert current Nuts/Zoo favourite here] in the way they dress and behave. But whose fault is this? If we're told that this is what men like, if we're told that this is the only way to be 'sexy' , then it's not surprising that many of us choose to play along. After all, in many ways it makes life easier to conform to the stereotype. BUT if a woman chooses to dress this way, it does not mean, under any circumstances, that she deserves to be raped. Rape is not sex, it is violence, and a short skirt is not an invitation to attack.

Women wear short skirts, or make-up, or tight tops, or whatever, for many reasons. It may be that they make us feel good, or it may be that we're trying to fit the mould of a 'sexy woman' as defined by the lads' mags. In a world where these magazines and the culture surrounding them didn't exist, we'd be free to dress and behave as we pleased without fear of blame. As it is we live in a patriarchy – and in a country where one in 20 women is a rape victim -and until that changes, we should stick together and blame the real culprits.

Not each other.

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3 Comments »

  1. Right on!

    Comment by laura — June 2, 2006 @ 2:41 pm |Reply

  2. Brilliant post, Lucy.

    Comment by laurelin — June 5, 2006 @ 7:11 am |Reply

  3. Thanks Laurelin! đŸ™‚

    Comment by Lucy — June 5, 2006 @ 12:56 pm |Reply


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