No one deserves to get raped
We’ve all seen her - that girl at the bar. The one who’s had too much to drink. Way too much. Her skirt is too short or her jeans are too tight and her shirt is low-cut and the straps are falling off her shoulders. Her make-up is smeared down her cheeks. And she’s throwing herself at every guy she encounters.
I haven’t been kind about that girl. I’ve pointed her out to my husband. Discussed her with my friends. Shaken my head at the way that she’s behaving. She’s not a pretty sight. But at no point have I ever looked at the trainwreck that her night has become and thought to myself, “That girl deserves to get raped.”
My husband takes it a step further. He thinks that anyone who responds to her advances is taking advantage, because she’s clearly not in the right frame of mind to be making decisions. He thinks that the only thing reasonable thing anyone should do with her is put her in a taxi and send her home.
It’s naïve to assume that the world is full of good men - it isn’t. But the fact remains that no matter how a woman dresses or behaves, she isn’t asking to be raped. Whatever she’s done, there’s nothing that justifies the behaviour of the man who responds by violating her.
This is the point of Slutwalk - a hotly debated series of marches around the world to protest the prevailing attitude summed up in one Canadian police officer’s comment that to remain safe “women should avoid dressing like sluts”.
Following global trends, the local protests have been a major talking point. Many people are upset or unsettled by the term “slut”, and feel that the protest should be titled differently to avoid alienating potential supporters. The watered down names “Rapewalk” or even “Liberation Walk” have been suggested.
This is missing the point somewhat, as the purpose of Slutwalk is not to protest rape - ostensibly we’re all against that - it’s to take people to that much darker point of acceptance that no matter how badly the girl is behaving, no matter how she dresses or who she flirts with, she’s not asking to be raped.
There is other subtext to the event’s stated intention. One point is to reclaim the word “slut” since flirtatiousness and overt sexuality are not bad things. Women who were raped in their own homes while wearing pyjamas have also added their voice to the cause, saying that they certainly weren’t “dressed to be raped” and that to put sexual assault down to what a person is wearing is to trivialise what any victim has gone through.
I also believe that to behave as though men are all barely restrained rapists, liable to be set off by a hint of cleavage or a flash of thigh is to disrespect the male of the species. Those men that attack women because they’re being overtly sexual have something wrong with them. It’s as simple as that.
And that’s why I support Slutwalk (even though I won’t be attending with a newborn baby strapped to my back). It’s for the bad girls, the drunk girls - the slutty girls even - who have been raped, assaulted and victimised for their behaviour, and have then been made out to be at least as much to blame as the inhuman men who raped them.
Slutwalk Joahnnesburg is taking place on September 24 2011. For more information visit the website, follow @slutwalkjhb on Twitter or check out their page on Facebook.
- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.
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