NOTE: This post also appears today on the blog I keep under my other pen name, so if it seems like you’ve seen it before, you probably have. It seemed too important to limit to one blog.
Since the tragedy in Isla Vista, California in which six people were murdered and several others injured, the hashtag #YesAllWomen has been making the rounds. The murderer in California (I refuse to use his name) stated in more than one venue that he committed this crime because women didn’t give him sex and love.
Because somehow he was entitled to that, according to his own warped mind.
Unfortunately, his mind isn’t the only warped one. It’s become ingrained in our culture that men are somehow more and women are somehow lesser. That it’s a female’s responsibility to provide for the sexual needs of a male, whether the female wants to or not. If a female is attractive or dresses in an attractive way, the unwanted attention of any male is automatically her fault.
Sexual assault and harassment are the only crimes for which not only is the perpetrator innocent until proven guilty, but the VICTIM is GUILTY until proven otherwise. And it is nearly impossible to prove that a woman or girl didn’t somehow “ask for it”. Because she wore too short a skirt. Or was walking in the wrong place. Or danced. Or whatever.
School dress codes, at least in the US in schools that don’t have uniforms, are skewed toward controlling what girls wear. Skirt length is often regulated. Certain types of footwear, usually worn only by girls, are prohibited. Shirts can’t have skinny straps and have to reach the waistband of the pants. Some types of pants, such as yoga pants, are prohibited. And so on.
Why? Some schools say because they want students to learn to dress appropriately or professionally–and yet those same schools do NOT prohibit boys from wearing T-shirts with pretty damn sketchy messages, or way-too-baggy jeans, or jeans with holes in them. Those things are not professional, are they?
This disparity in clothing rules showed up last week at a high school in Utah, which saw fit to digitally alter some yearbook pictures for “modesty.” All the pictures altered were of girls, of course. Girls who were wearing clothes which apparently fit the school *dress code* but weren’t permitted in the yearbook. Why? Because they weren’t “modest.” Meaning someone might get the wrong idea about those girls.
It is not up to girls to keep people from getting the “wrong idea,” because apparently the “wrong idea” is that all girls who dress or act a certain way must want and accept sex from any guy who tries for it. The “modesty” of school dress codes might have a little too do with professionalism, but it has a lot more to do with making sure boys keep their minds on their education and aren’t distracted by those horrible girls who have bodies.
Our culture needs to stop blaming the victims of sexual assaults. We need to stop telling girls and women that they shouldn’t dress a certain way, dance a certain way, or go to certain places because they might get raped. IT ISN’T UP TO GIRLS AND WOMEN TO NOT BE VICTIMS. IT IS UP TO MEN AND BOYS TO NOT BE CRIMINALS. And until everyone is taught to believe that way, assaults, rapes, and tragedies like the one in California will keep happening. Because to some people–females among them, sadly–that’s what girls and women are for. Satisfying men.