Being a woman in this society comes with a constant shift of blame. If anything happens to a woman, it is automatically perceived as her fault. You didn’t get the job, “Well maybe your credentials weren’t good enough”. Your baby is crying uncontrollably, “She’s such a bad mom”. You assert yourself in a situation and get attacked, “Well if she just kept her mouth shut, it wouldn’t have happened”. If all these responses seem familiar, its because women have been conditioned to hold all the responsibility while also having no power within the narrative. Unfortunately, this mindset has transitioned to rape and sexual assault creating a sad reality for women everywhere who are just trying to live their life how they want.
In 2019, women are still being questioned about what they were wearing at the time of the assault, playing into the notion that men are not responsible for their actions. It stems from power but another factor that is always brought up is primal instincts. This idea rests on men being hunters and their biological lot in life is to succumb to certain sexual desires and procreate. This idea isn’t only shared by men, as some women are also quick to perpetuate this. The singer Erykah Badu is known for her radical takes on subjects but her statements about what girls wear to school came under fire in 2016. She tweeted, “But do I think it is unnatural for a heterosexual male 2b attracted to a young woman in a revealing skirt? No. I think it is his nature…”. This statement is very dangerous and by saying this, she is suggesting that men’s desires are uncontrollable and shouldn’t be the main topic addressed.
Again, the blame and responsibility are being placed on the girl in this situation. There seems to be a conscious effort to address the shallow ideals and not the roots. Obviously, men are not going to understand how much women fear to leave their houses at night or to go to a club hoping not to be groped. But, there has to be a sense of empathy and respect given to women in general as to not assume that you have unlimited access to her body because of what she wears.
Call It What It Is
“Rape happens because rapists rape, period” (Thought Catalog). Clothing should not be an indicator of character, triggering rapists to react. Women should not bear the brunt of someone else’s actions because of societal norms. The real problem is that women are not seen as human beings deserving respect. Women are more so seen as objects that men can do with what they please and this idea is not just limited to rape. There is no reason why a woman who strips and a woman who is a part of the deaconess board at your local church shouldn’t receive the same common respect. Their character need only be judged by their actions toward other people and not in the modesty of their clothing. “It’s time to start dismantling some of the sick societal conditioning and double standards that have kept victims of assault and harassment silent for centuries” (Thought Catalog).
Addressing the media component may be far out of your reach but you can start within your household. Reassuring the girls in your family that they don’t have to fold to the pressures of societal norms of how they dress. Those same sentiments can be said to the boys in your family. It seems like a huge task but taking those steps within your own home can translate across spectrums.
Clothing should be a form of expression that has limitless bounds. But, society has given it a morality scale that needs to be demolished. Rapists should be held fully accountable for their actions and not being given lenient punishments to fit the narrative.