So I had no intention to actually blog today, but something caught my attention on Twitter last night (if you’re following me, you’d understand better, if not just read on). Basically it was this picture that caught my eye;
And a friend of mine mentioned that “girls going to these is just plain stupid.” Okay this is where I draw the line. This is my point of view and I strongly disagree with people, and other people who are on the same wavelength, who says: girls asks for it.
There are very few certainties in life, besides as they say, death and taxes, almost nothing is certain in life.
The only thing that is certain in life is nothing is.
But there is another. For every rape survivor, there is at least one person who’s convinced she (or he) was “asking for it.”
There was a time when blaming the victim was limited to a certain type. You all know who I’m talking about: The scantily clad girl, who had a little bit too much to drink, a little bit of a reputation and who really should have known better than to go off with that potential rapist. You know the guy who uttered the ominous words, “Would you like to have dinner?” ,“How could she not have known what that really meant?” they ask.
So I found this article of the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas. In a New York Times article on the story, many things resulted from this, outraged community members who seem both appalled and embarrassed by the ordeal. Not so much by the fact that an 11-year-old girl was raped and that they live among a group of young men who could do such a thing, but appalled by the fact that she dressed provocatively and that these young men could have their lives ruined by the fallout. (I guess in their eyes being gang-raped before reaching puberty does not qualify as a life-ruining experience.)
I’ve often said there are very few political issues in which there is absolutely no gray area, but simply right and wrong. Well the rape of a child is one such issue, or at least it should be. Yet despite this being one of the few issues that every human being should be able to agree on, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, there still seems to be a sort of ambivalence about the wrongness of it all when it comes to sexual abuse and the law.
If 18 men and boys had beaten up an 11-year-old girl the only question anyone would be asking is how quickly can we lock the prison door and throwaway the key? But if she’s raped, then apparently we have to ask several questions, namely:
“Was she asking for it?”
“Was she dressed like she was asking for it?”
“Did she maybe unintentionally signal that she was asking for it by being alone with them?”
Newsflash. She’s a child and as such cannot ask for “it.” EVER.
But what I find more disturbing than members of the community asking these questions, is the fact that they are all simply taking their cues from a society that consistently validates the legitimacy of this line of questioning.
I lost track of how many similar cases has happened or is yet to happen in this world. Society has such a horrible twisted logic that I guess we should stop letting toddlers run around wearing nothing but their diapers. I mean we wouldn’t want any other helpless older men to get the wrong idea now do we?
How many cases, of people who was caught in a sexual activity, have we heard of that the person who is charged guilty of rape pleads not guilty just because the person was mistaken and that the person was unaware she was a minor.
While I wish this story were a rarity, unfortunately it’s not.
While I realize these men committed serious offenses, doesn’t it say something about our priorities as a culture when stealing money is considered a more serious crime than stealing a child’s innocence? Although as one pedophile interviewed by Oprah Winfrey confessed, a pedophile steals more than a child’s innocence. He steals her future. He described his crime as a form of murder because, as he said, “I killed who she could have been one day.”
But Roman Polanski doesn’t see it that way. Apparently he thinks he’s been treated more harshly than some murderers. In a notorious interview he said,
“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But…
fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!”
Maybe he’s on to something. Maybe the reason we can’t get our criminal justice system and others in power to take sexual crimes against children more seriously is because too many of them believe that under the right (or rather wrong) circumstances they too could find themselves the accidental “victim” of the seductive charms of a young siren — whose age they really didn’t know.
And wouldn’t that be terrible for them to find their lives ruined?
Especially if she was really asking for it.
So the thing is, I’d say society is to blame. We(girls) are taught to protect ourselves or to only be dressed in clothes that will show as little skin or curves as possible. All, however, focus only on girls’ clothing, and most of these restrictions are put in place to avoid “distracting” other students (i.e. the boys).
The concern for overly exposed young bodies may be well-intention. With society who fetishistic girls at younger and younger ages, girls are instructed to self-objectify and see themselves as sexual objects, something to be looked at. A laundry list of problems can come from obsessing over one’s appearance: eating disorders, depression, low self-worth. Which girl wouldn’t want to be spared from these struggles?
Instead, these restrictions are executed with distracted boys in mind, casting girls as inherent sexual threats needing to be tamed. Dress restrictions in schools contribute to the very problem they aim to solve: the objectification of young girls. When you tell a girl what to wear (or force her to cover up with an oversized T-shirt), you control her body. When you control a girl’s body—even if it is ostensibly for her “own good”—you take away her agency. You tell her that her body is not her own. When you deem a girl’s dress “inappropriate,” you’re also telling her, “Because your body may distract boys, your body is inappropriate. Cover it up.” You re-contextualize her body; she now exists through the male gaze.
What is a girl supposed to think in the morning when she wakes up and tries to decide what to wear to school? They aren’t idiots. The logical conclusion of the “distracting” issue is, “Will I turn someone on if I wear this?” Now who is doing the sexualizing? My daughters would never have thought these things without the help of their school.
Says Soraya Chemaly in The Huffington Post,
Asking girls to cover up is a Band-Aid solution to far more socially ingrained problems such as general misogyny and rape culture. As long as a girl or woman is always sexualized, it won’t matter how much she covers up—she’ll still be faulted for her inappropriate behavior.
It’s unfair to expect a young girl to understand the full implications of her body—implications put in place by an all-too-often misogynistic society—and punish her for not knowing better. A girl needs empowerment, not more complications in her relationship with her body. Jada Pinkett Smith had the right idea when asked why she would “let” her daughter Willow shave her head:
This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and her mind are her domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair … even little girls have the right to own themselves.
So to all girls (& guys) out there, there’s nothing wrong with going clubbing as long as you know your main purpose of going there, to have fun or to dance or to get drunk etc. Be sure you know the people/friends you’re going with(know as in you trust them with your life if anything were to happen, you trust them to help you get away safely, in one piece and untainted.
with love, k