Top lawyer says women need take “responsibility” for how they dress


by Rumbold
14th June, 2011 at 1:12 pm    

In an example of why Slutwalk was needed, a leading celebrity lawyer has argued that women need to take more responsibility for how they dress, to avoid “victimising men”:

Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman sparked outrage from anti-rape campaigners today after claiming women ‘victimise’ men by dressing in a sexually provocative way. The 54-year old solicitor – named Mr Loophole – said females who dress in ‘racy’ red underwear, skimpy tops and fishnet tights conveyed a message they only had sex on their minds…

“In the real world a woman who behaves or dresses in a sexually provocative way conveys a certain message. A message that ironically can vicitimise men. ‘So ladies when you say you dress for yourselves and not for us males, I don’t believe you. It’s time to take responsibility for how you act and what you wear.”

No. A woman does not have to dress ‘responsibly’. If she is sexually assulted it is not her fault. There are no mitigating circumstances.

Mr. Freeman then made matters worse by recounting his own experience “when he ended up in bed with a fellow undergraduate only for her to say no to sex when she revealed she had a boyfriend.”:

‘But mustering every fibre of willpower, I leapt of the bed, pulled on my clothes and made my exit. ‘Disappointed? Obviously. But more significantly I was disgusted to have been manipulated and, yes, victimised. However both my tender legal training and moral code had blazed inside me.

‘To have ignored her wishes would have been rape. End of career, end of future, end of everything.’

Perhaps it is an uncharitable interpretation, but by putting in the bit about considering the end of his career, it suggests that was a thought at the time, when it shouldn’t have been. She said no. End of story.


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  1. LW — on 14th June, 2011 at 1:16 pm  

    How are men victimised in this exactly? “I expected sex but you didn’t have sex with me” isn’t being a victim, it’s not being privilaged

  2. Arif — on 14th June, 2011 at 1:30 pm  

    To me the issue of whether women invite rape by how they are dressed is not related to the issue of if a woman has to take responsibility for the messages she conveys by how she dresses. And if a man has to do the same.

    As far as I am concerned, Nick Freeman is perfectly entitled to his opinions and interpretations of being victimised by how women dressed, as long as he does not see any justification for attacking them. And he is clear that he does not.

    He should consider how Slutwalk helps to delink clothing from any invitation to non-consexual sex, and feel empowered by it no longer to be such a “victim” of his interpretations. The marchers are precisely acting to change its cultural meaning to help him do that.

    Women as well as men may act manipulatively both in sexual and non-sexual contexts. And I agree with him that this does have an element of victimisation. I don’t think we are always well educated about how to deal with manipulative people, or to recognise when we are being manipulative ourselves. That is an important issue, but I don’t think it is dealt with well enough by saying “take respopnsibility for how you dress”. We need to learn to take responsibility for all sorts of things, but as Nick Freeman has no doubt realised by the reaction to his statement, you can’t be responsible for how people wilfully or inadvertantly misinterpret you.

  3. Optimist — on 14th June, 2011 at 1:39 pm  

    Rumbold -

    I agree with every word you have said in this section, and see how it make life so simple !!

  4. Don — on 14th June, 2011 at 1:54 pm  

    I don’t think your interpretation is uncharitable at all, Rumbold.

  5. Sam — on 14th June, 2011 at 1:58 pm  

    I think that ‘dressing responsibly’ is a riduculous statement. So when I wore a skirt into a pub, that meant it was my fault that some man put his hand up my skirt and grabbed my crotch? When I wear high heeled boots I deserve to have a man make comments about how kinky I must be in bed? I know that if I wear a low cut top then I will usually get a comment about the size of my chest. Yes I like to look attractive, but that is because it makes me feel good. And yes, sometimes I want to look attractive because I want someone to think of me sexually. That is usually my partner. Dressing in such a way that makes me feel good is not an open invitation to anyone to touch me.

    “In the real world a woman who behaves or dresses in a sexually provocative way conveys a certain message. A message that ironically can vicitimise men. ‘So ladies when you say you dress for yourselves and not for us males, I don’t believe you. It’s time to take responsibility for how you act and what you wear.”

    As a child I hugged a friend’s father in the middle of the night. I’d had a nightmare and went to a man I trusted. He abused me. Was it my fault? No I was a scared child.
    As a woman I wore a skirt n a night out. A man molested me. My fault? No. I was wearing an item of clothes that is traditional for women to wear.

    I take responsibility if I were to take a man home with the expectation of sex and then deny him that. I would expect him to angry. But nothing more. The man should take responsibility if he cannot control his impulses when he looks a lady dressed up, however provocatively.

    This man should not be a lawyer. He is ethically challenged.

  6. Shamit — on 14th June, 2011 at 2:07 pm  

    Well said Rumbold.

    Excellent points Sam.

    This lawyer is a pathetic example of a man who is arguing for those who are equally pathetic.

    No means No and just because someone is wearing a mini skirt does not give one the right to grope a woman.

    Good post Rumbold.

  7. damon — on 14th June, 2011 at 2:16 pm  

    It’s just a dork saying something. He’s a nobody and has an opinion. Everyone’s got an opinion. It’s no big deal.

    I agree with the overall message of the slutwalk, but as for the photos in the Daily Mail piece, there’s some attention seeking going on there as well. As there is with some young niqab wearers I guess. It’s all a bit of a laugh.
    See the woman in the blue dress with the sign?
    It goes for balding middle aged men too doesn’t it?
    I should have gone along to the march and held up my own sign saying ”Can’t touch this – unless I want you to”

  8. Arif — on 14th June, 2011 at 2:35 pm  

    I really think we need to be clearer about the argument that is being made and why.

    I assumed that the slutwalk argument was that, however women choose to dress, that is neither justification nor mitigation for rape.

    What’s going on here is that is Nick Freeman is agreeing to this, and then going on to make a lot of other points about how he feels victimized.

    The best way to respond is to say: “thank you very much for admitting that there is no excuse for rape, and we will now hold you to this, that you will never raise the way a woman dresses as any kind of mitigation for rape. And if a defendant makes such an argument, that you will agree that only makes them a greater danger to the public if they think that any kind of clothing could be an invitation to rape.”

    I don’t think we should let ourselves get unbalanced by people making unrelated points about how they feel about other people’s clothing. As long as they never see clothing as an excuse for sexual abuse or violence, then they can discuss these unrelated issues about how people give off other messages from their clothing all they like. But let’s not make it seem like such issues are being denied or are of any necessary relevance to what slutwalk is trying to achieve.

  9. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 2:39 pm  

    Arif:

    The issue of if a woman has to take responsibility for the messages she conveys by how she dresses.

    I disagree. I have no problem with men going to talk to/flirt with women. But once they are told no, that is it (as you note). Women do not have ‘responsibility’ for the messages their dress sends, because people interpret things differently. A woman might choose to wear a short skirt because she likes the material or because it is warm out.

    Optimist:

    Heh- well, it is always good to agree on some things.

    Sam:

    Great comment. It is disgraceful how some people act. Thank you for sharing.

    Thanks Shamit and Don.

    Damon:

    It’s just a dork saying something. He’s a nobody and has an opinion. Everyone’s got an opinion. It’s no big deal.

    He’s not just well known- he is a lawyer. He is supposed to know the law. He is supposed to be someone vulnerable victims can trust.

    I should have gone along to the march and held up my own sign saying ”Can’t touch this – unless I want you to”

    Er… yes, that is the message; that it is an individual’s choice.

  10. ukliberty — on 14th June, 2011 at 2:51 pm  

    “In the real world a woman who behaves or dresses in a sexually provocative way conveys a certain message. A message that ironically can vicitimise men. ‘So ladies when you say you dress for yourselves and not for us males, I don’t believe you. It’s time to take responsibility for how you act and what you wear.”

    Google define victimise:
    victimize: make a victim of;
    victimised – exploited: of persons; taken advantage of;

    What a maroon.

  11. Arif — on 14th June, 2011 at 3:10 pm  

    Rumbold #9 – what do you disagree with? You quote a part of an argument where I say there is no link to between the issues of rape and responsibilities about how we dress. You agree, then you say there are many reasons why women might wear short skirts. I am not sure what it is you disagree with.

    You seem to be arguing that the issues should be linked and that women have no responsibilities in choosing how they dress for any reason. The second part is a fair enough argument. You just need to see it through by arguing that men and women have no responsibility for any kind of provocation caused by wearing battle fatigues in parliament, nazi uniforms at work and going naked to the supermarket. I am taking no position on this argument at the moment as I think it is irrelevant to this issue.

    Women have a right to their bodies whatever they are wearing, and this has no bearing on how different people interpret, rightly or wrongly, clothing as relevant to, or defining of, particular cultural roles and situations.

    Personally I do take what is appropriate into account in choosing my clothes as I do not wish to offend people unnecessarily. Other people’s claim to be offended (just like claims to being “sexually provoked”) can be oppressive. Knowledge of such cultural codes can also be used precisely to offend and sexually provoke. We don’t have to pretend this isn’t so in order to be clear that women have an absolute right to their bodies.

    That is why I think slutwalk makes its statement effectively – it uses a knowledge of cultural codes to say that however sexually coded the clothes women wear, there is no code imaginable for “it is okay to rape me”. Admitting to the clothing being sexually coded is part and parcel of making the message effective, in my opinion.

  12. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 3:19 pm  

    Arif:

    Well, I might have misunderstood, but you were still talking about responsibilities of dress. I know you made clear that you didn’t think it was an excuse for rape, but I don’t understand why a woman should be ‘responsible’ at all for what other people think of her dress?

  13. Arif — on 14th June, 2011 at 3:41 pm  

    Rumbold – I was talking about responsibilities of dress as being a completely irrelevant issue to the rights of women to their bodies.

    I am arguing that you are playing into the hands of people who are muddying the issue by linking any argument that people have a responsibility to think about how they dress to mean that it is somehow possible to interpret some way of dressing as inviting rape.

    You have a much bigger culture war on your hands if you want to make slutwalk a sub-part of a bigger argument that all clothing is absolutely meaningless.

    Fo me, slutwalk is a specific argument that however meaningful clothing is, whatever the message women may want to get across with their clothing, the interpretation that they have given up control of their bodies is wrong.

    My argument can only make sense if we accept that there is some degree of cultural communication (both willed and unwilled, correctly and incorrectly interpreted) within culture, and that slutwalk is a cultural intervention making clear that some interpretations are incorrect.

  14. Helen — on 14th June, 2011 at 3:47 pm  

    No means no. Most men DO NOT rape, even when confronted with a woman in a skimpy skirt and even if they got a hard-on, they wouldn’t consider violently abusing the woman they were looking at.

    It’s time the minority of men who do rape, were told to take responsibility for their own actions. A short term hard-on does not excuse violence against women – or men [some men rape men - is it because they wear tight trousers? If not, why does dress code only apply to women?]

    Women [and men] are not responsible for violent men assaulting them. The men who commit the assaults are the ones behaving criminally. A mentality shift is needed, so men do not have a get-out clause for violently assaulting a woman’s vagina.

  15. nonestar — on 14th June, 2011 at 4:16 pm  

    This argument doesn’t make such sense to me. Of course, it’s wrong to rape a woman regardless of what she’s wearing. Rape is an inexcusable crime, however if wearing and behaving in a certain manner attracts the wrong kind of attention for a woman that could place her into a vulnerable situation and she’s fully aware of that, isn’t she being stupid? Doesn’t excuse the rapist, but there has to be some level of personal responsibility to be cognizant of your surroundings and how people may interpret you and your dress within reason. It’s like if you go into an area where there are known to be robberies waving around an expensive wrist watch and flashing cash money, and then get robbed … sure it’s wrong that you were robbed, it’s not an excuse for the criminal but acting like you couldn’t have made better decisions to lower your risk level and the opportunity for such an attack occuring is dumb. IMO, you are always responsible (not legally but practically) for your personal safety even when it’s violated by an inexcusable crime. Be aware or beware.

  16. Ravi Naik — on 14th June, 2011 at 4:27 pm  

    My argument can only make sense if we accept that there is some degree of cultural communication (both willed and unwilled, correctly and incorrectly interpreted) within culture

    Arif, I think you are setting a strawman. Nobody denies the existence of non-verbal communication, be it body language, facial expression, eye contact, the way people dress and so on.

    The lawyer in question says:

    “In the real world a woman who behaves or dresses in a sexually provocative way conveys a certain message.”

    He is wrong to think that he knows what the message is based on how someone dresses.

  17. Helen — on 14th June, 2011 at 4:38 pm  

    No one invites a crime to be committed against them. The ONLY person responsible for a crime, is the criminal.

    Sex crimes are a violation against a womean’s sex organs and it is no way comparable to someone nicking your watch.

    Rape is not about sex. It is about power. Psychologists will tell you that. Even women in burquas have been raped. Apologists have excuses for that, too.

    What victim would want this solicitor to defend them? She should be sacked.

  18. Don — on 14th June, 2011 at 5:15 pm  

    This article by Ben Goldacre makes for relevant reading. Although the study in question cannot be considered hard evidence it does suggest that for some people the idea that women, by their dress or conduct, are partly responsible is a dearly held article of faith, regardless of actual evidence.

    http://www.badscience.net/category/rape/

  19. nonestar — on 14th June, 2011 at 5:41 pm  

    Who said anything about excuses? I’ve already established that there is no excuse for the criminal, but what I’m discussing is personal responsibility for your own safety.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s about sex or not. What matters when discussing your responsibility for your own safety and well being is how you are exposing yourself to a greater level of risk due to what you are wearing, what you are saying, and what you are doing (i.e. anything under your control), depending on where you are and who you are around. Situational context matters. This goes for rape and any other form of violent crime that you can be a victim of.

    And a lot worse can happen to you than having your watch “nicked” in a robbery, you can get gunned down. The premise remains the same: while you are not responsible for the crime, you are always responsible for your risk exposure and there are things you can do to lower it or increase it. You have a responsibility to yourself to be aware of what those things are so as to decrease your likelyhood of being a victim. That’s life in the real world where you can’t depend on criminals to be as “englightened” as you are.

  20. ukliberty — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:12 pm  

    The problem is that in this context “take responsibility for how you act and what you wear” can be reasonably understood to mean that the victim is in some way the cause of, or accountable for, the sexual assault. That is what “responsible” usually means.

    If people do not want to misunderstood perhaps they should not use words such as “responsible” in this context.

  21. ukliberty — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:13 pm  

    “If people do not want to [be] misunderstood” perhaps they shud rite proppa.

  22. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:22 pm  

    Exactly ukliberty. Language is very important. If a police officer says that there is a sex attacker loose at night in a particular area, so be extra vigilant, I don’t have a problem with that. It is common sense. If the police officer said that women in the area need to be more responsible about where and when they go out, that is a different kettle of fish.

  23. damon — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:44 pm  

    The ‘contrarians’ at Spiked were at it again today on this story.
    I think the woman who writes the article has a point.

    The double standards of prudish Slutwalkers
    Who’d want to live in a world where women can wear what they want but men are never allowed to woo or whistle?

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/10606/

    Because, really – I think that this whole slutwalk thing is a bit contrived. And not just because it’s supposed to be about what a policeman on the other side of the Atlantic is supposed to have said. It’s obviously a row that some people here just want to have anyway. But who really is saying what the slutwalk people are so against?
    No one really. And if there are people who do say that, it may just as well be their mothers or women like Yasmin AB. Half an hour ago there were two women walking down the road in the full-on friday night high heels and short dresses look, and three Vespa scooters went past with scooter blokes on them and they tooted their horns at the women. Who laughed. It’s part of the fun I think. You see it all the time. The look is meant to make taxi drivers turn their heads I think. Maybe not. Maybe it’s something else.

    This being PP, I think we should ask how this march would go down in an area like Southall, East Ham or Tooting. And how the Arab guys in the coffee shops of Finsbury Park might be talking about it if it was to pass them by.

  24. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:48 pm  

    Next time on Spiked:

    It’s the rapists who are the real victims of rape…

  25. ukliberty — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:36 pm  

    damon,

    And not just because it’s supposed to be about what a policeman on the other side of the Atlantic is supposed to have said.

    But it isn’t just about that:

    http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/about/why

    But who really is saying what the slutwalk people are so against?
    No one really.

    Wrong.

    http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/about/why

  26. Refresh — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:41 pm  

    Everyone is a victim of the crime of rape, with the exception of the perpetrator. And some could say we are not doing the perpetrator any good by letting them get away with it, certainly we would not help by offering them a lower tariff (a la Ken Clark), which is a slippery slope to eventually turning it into ASBO type of offense.

    It is an inexcuseable act. It is destructive of the lives of so many, the individual so degraded, their extended families and goes on to affect children yet to be born.

    Sooner we get past the idea of blaming the woman the better.

    There is also the need for safeguards which nonestar raises above. The world is not as safe as we want it to be.

  27. damon — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:57 pm  

    UKliberty, if that is really the official line from the Toronto Police this would all be completely justified. I have no doubt they will slap the officer down and make it clear that was his own words and they were wrong.

    Looking at the Youtubes of the various marches, it just leaves me a bit non plussed. It’s a particular demographic that likes to shout for their corner. Which is totally fair enough. Gay rights, all kinds of marches to do with equality and sexuality … fine. I’ve been on a couple myself in the past.
    It doesn’t mean that you (one)has to accept the particular politics of – for example – ‘The London Feminist Network’ though.
    http://londonfeministnetwork.org.uk/

    I liked the look of the slutwalk demo in London Ontario.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEC3DFq4FbI

    But it is a very narrow demographic. Studenty, middle class, crusty, lefty.

    Then I saw another demonstration in London England recently, over the death of the singer Smiley Culture in police custody. It’s a whole differnt bunch of people. With just a bit of crossover.

    ”No justice – No peace” they chant.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgXROZlckwo&feature=related

  28. nonestar — on 14th June, 2011 at 10:27 pm  

    There are potentially ways to mitigate risk depending on the situation, if you by way of your decisions or lack thereof increase your exposure to risk, that is what you are responsible for – increasing your risk. In cases where there’s nothing you could have done differently then you are not. In all cases, you are never responsible for the assault itself. How hard is this to understand?

    If I walk down a dark alley alone looking like an easy mark where there is a known risk of being attacked… I am responsible for putting myself in harm’s way. The harm that happens as the result of my attacker’s actions is entirely their responsibility.

    Now for me the question that hasn’t been answered or discussed because of all this misunderstanding about “blaming the victim” is whether or not dressing provocatively (however that is defined within the context of the time and place you are in) actually increases the likelyhood of being sexually assaulted? If it does, then the officer is correct, and young women should heed his advice and if it doesn’t then the officer is incorrect, and the advice is worthless.

  29. Laban Tall — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:07 am  

    Helen – “Rape is not about sex. It is about power. Psychologists will tell you that.”

    Not the Professor of Psychology at Harvard. From The Blank Slate, Ch 18:

    “…rape is not about sex, our culture socializes men to rape, it glorifies violence against women. The analysis comes right out of the gender-feminist theory of human nature: people are blank slates (who must be trained or socialized to want things); the only significant human motive is power (so sexual desire is irrelevant); and all motives and interests must be located in groups (such as the male sex and the female sex) rather than in individual people…

    I believe that the rape-is-not-about-sex doctrine will go down in history as an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It is preposterous on the face of it, does not deserve its sanctity, is contradicted by a mass of evidence, and is getting in the way of the only morally relevant goal surrounding rape, the effort to stamp it out.

    Think about it. First obvious fact: Men often want to have sex with women who don’t want to have sex with them. They use every tactic that one human being uses to affect the behavior of another: wooing, seducing, flattering, deceiving, sulking, and paying. Second obvious fact: Some men use violence to get what they want, indifferent to the suffering they cause. Men have been known to kidnap children for ransom (sometimes sending their parents an ear or finger to show they mean business), blind the victim of a mugging so the victim can’t identify them in court, shoot out the kneecaps of an associate as punishment for ratting to the police or invading their territory, and kill a stranger for his brand-name athletic footwear. It would be an extraordinary fact, contradicting everything else we know about people, if some men didn’t use violence to get sex.

    Let’s also apply common sense to the doctrine that men rape to further the interests of their gender. A rapist always risks injury at the hands of the woman defending herself. In a traditional society, he risks torture, mutilation, and death at the hands of her relatives. In a modern society, he risks a long prison term. Are rapists really assuming these risks as an altruistic sacrifice to benefit the billions of strangers that make up the male gender? The idea becomes even less credible when we remember that rapists tend to be losers and nobodies, while presumably the main beneficiaries of the patriarchy are the rich and powerful. Men do sacrifice themselves for the greater good in wartime, of course, but they are either conscripted against their will or promised public adulation when their exploits are made public. But rapists usually commit their acts in private and try to keep them secret. And in most times and places, a man who rapes a woman in his community is treated as scum. The idea that all men are engaged in brutal warfare against all women clashes with the elementary fact that men have mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives, whom they care for more than they care for most other men.”

  30. KJB — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:16 am  

    Helen, I co-sign *applauds*

    ukliberty:

    Damon is a waste of your time. He worships at Spiked, a genocide denier’s website. He likes to pop up on here and make rambling, contrarian non-arguments which usually fail to add any informative or analytical value to the discussion at hand, but make him feel better, presumably.

    Anyone who is interested in what SlutWalk London is about should simply go on the page for it. I am sure there are YouTube videos available. The irritating focus on what a few people wore does not change the fact that they were also carrying signs saying ‘My dress is not my consent’ and similar.

    nonestar – Kindly stop wasting our time. The ‘stranger rape’ chestnut you are trotting out (oh so well-worn!) has little bearing on the reality. About three-quarters of rapes are committed by somebody the victim knows and trusts – a friend, a partner, a husband. From something I read which I’m not able to locate at this moment, most women are raped whilst wearing jeans.

    This was precisely the overriding purpose of SlutWalk – to challenge these fucking rape myths that keep circulating like the undead. I have yet to come across other crimes where people behave like this. Fucking idiots like Nonestar, instead of bothering to educate themselves, demand that we pander to their attempts to find a way to avoid BLAMING THE PERPETRATOR.

    Women’s rights campaigners get frequently and falsely derided as ‘man-haters’ – frankly, based on the facts of rape, we should be! The only real way to ‘avoid rape’ for us would be to avoid men! Does that sound like a workable solution?

    Let me tell you men something that I’m sure some of you won’t like hearing – YOU need to take some responsibility in preventing rape. Men are more likely to listen to other men – it is your job to get the message across to your friends and co-workers. 95% of rapes go unreported because of lack of faith in the police; you have probably met a rapist and never even known it.

  31. damon — on 15th June, 2011 at 1:14 am  

    KJB, you shouldn’t announce who I ”worship” without asking me. I take the Spiked people one article at a time and take some of what they say lightly.
    They have often been wrong in their analysis.
    Northern Ireland particularly. But George Monbiot is not a person I rate generally.

    I have only seen the ‘slutwalks’ on youtube, and they are very much in the vein of the ”Reclaim the Night” marches. I think Reclaim the Night, and these new ones are open for debate.

    The central call of the marches is such a no-brainer that I question what is really the point of them. Who would need to be told ”my dress is not consent” etc? Of people who need to be told, are they going to be reached by such a demonstration anyway? It’s unlikely.
    Holding placards which say ”Why am I dressed like a slut? – Why are you thinking like a rapist” sound like the kind of feminist politics described in a book about the 1980s by Katie Roiphe called ”The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism” which was about the campus feminists who dominated that politics at many American universities at the time.
    http://www.amazon.com/Morning-After-Sex-Fear-Feminism/dp/0316754323

    Of course, just raising that point is provocative to some people.

  32. damon — on 15th June, 2011 at 2:05 am  

    This was precisely the overriding purpose of SlutWalk – to challenge these fucking rape myths that keep circulating like the undead.

    Maybe I just lead a quiet life, but I don’t hear people coming out with those views.
    And the rest of KJB’s post comes across as as shouty finger wagging. Talking to a group like that (men) is not on really, in the same way it’s not right to tell any defined group that they need to ”get their house in order” because of the behavior of a small minority of them.
    SlutWalk is a very particular type of feminism by the sound of them, and not one that I have ever liked. It’s rather domineering.

  33. nonestar — on 15th June, 2011 at 6:17 am  

    Whether 3/4ers of rapes are by known acquaintances or not is irrelevant to the question of whether there is any ounce of personal responsibility involved in maintaining your own safety and limiting your vulnerability to being assaulted in VERY SPECIFIC instances where you could have. This is indeed a minority of cases when it comes to rape, but there are instances such as getting drunk at a party around strangers where you are increasing your vulnerability, walking down strange alley ways, or being alone in the company of men who are you not absolutely sure of. It’s not absolute that every instance of assault = a completely powerless victim, who could have done nothing to lower their exposure to risk. Again, this is not making the victim responsible for their assault but responsible for making wise decisions to decrease their likelihood of it happening to them.

  34. nonestar — on 15th June, 2011 at 6:26 am  

    “The only real way to ‘avoid rape’ for us would be to avoid men! Does that sound like a workable solution?”

    Yes this is logical….At the very least, avoid being alone and out of public sight with a man (or group of men) other than the partners you approve of. Young girls (and boys too) should never be left alone and unsupervised with men.

  35. Arif — on 15th June, 2011 at 8:02 am  

    Ravi Naik #16

    I think you are getting my argument a bit backwards. To clarify, I am precisely arguing that how Nick Freeman thinks he should interpret women’s dress is irrelevant. You can say he is wrong for assuming x, y and z, but I see that as getting caught up in the irrelevancies.

    What I think is more important is to realise when the argument has been won and drive home the moment of advantage.

    The only arguments against Slutwalk, including in this thread, are along the lines of: “Of course rape is never justified, no one denies that, but Slutwalk is perpetuating a dangerous belief that women have no responsibility for managing their personal safety.”

    Rather than get involved in the boundaries of responsibility, let’s just clarify with those individuals whether there is anything that a woman wears that can be interpreted as inviting rape. They will admit there is nothing that does so. Anyone who interprets any item of clothing as inviting rape is the danger to society, not the item of clothing. Let’s agree that. And now, as a lawyer, press Nick Freeman to agree that perhaps sentences for people who use such an argument should be further increased since they are clearly a danger to everyone in society, after they have been psychiatrically evaluated.

    nonestar

    The point I think you are missing is that Slutwalk is making the belief that any – even the most sexually coded – women’s clothes invite rape untenable. It is making the statement in the clearest way possible. The more this message is naturalised in culture, the safer women will be whatever their clothing. It might not make people safer in dark alleyways, or drunk at parties, or even save one woman from being raped. If it succeeds it will at least make it impossible to argue in a police station or at court that there was anything the woman wore that contributed to it. My question is simply whether you support that or not?

    If you want to go on about our responsibilities, my response is this – if you have a problem with sexualised clothing, it is your “responsibility” not to attack people who are wearing it to recontextualise its meaning to remove any connotations of “rape-me” – a goal we all support. If you wish to make your point responsibly, attack those who are advertising such clothing as empowering in other contexts.

    damon

    I simply reiterate my interpretation to you – this is not a campaign about whether or not sexual comments are appropriate, or whether the sexual message is x, y, or z and who decides etc. The campaign shows that whatever the message, whoever has the right or responsibility to decode it, the message cannot ever be that any person wishes to be raped. Slutwalkers do not have to agree or disagree with you (or each other) about any other right and wrong interpretations and comments that their clothing can invite. Your freedom and responsibility there remains relatively unchallenged.

  36. douglas clark — on 15th June, 2011 at 9:22 am  

    nonestar,

    I have read a bit about rape. It seems to be, usually, between people that know each other. If you have evidence otherwise, I see you say 25% or so, could you please provide references?

    It seems to me that this:

    Yes this is logical….At the very least, avoid being alone and out of public sight with a man (or group of men) other than the partners you approve of. Young girls (and boys too) should never be left alone and unsupervised with men.

    is damn near hysteria.

  37. Refresh — on 15th June, 2011 at 9:31 am  

    Douglas Clark,

    Precautions along those lines are already taken by health professionals.

  38. Ravi Naik — on 15th June, 2011 at 10:19 am  

    Let me tell you men something that I’m sure some of you won’t like hearing – YOU need to take some responsibility in preventing rape. Men are more likely to listen to other men – it is your job to get the message across to your friends and co-workers. 95% of rapes go unreported because of lack of faith in the police; you have probably met a rapist and never even known it.

    This is either a brilliant man-hating parody, or the silliest rant I have ever read. You can’t possibly expect people to take this seriously.

  39. Refresh — on 15th June, 2011 at 10:40 am  

    It is a passionate voice. But misses completely the point that men have traditionally viewed rape as one of the most heinous crimes committed against women.

    The issues are simply:

    Why do women feel unable to report this crime?

    and

    Why does the system dismiss the crime so easily, as witnessed by the low rates of conviction?

    On a wider front, we have several arguments developing which will in the end all come together within the next year or so. And most of them relate, not to personal choice, but to the power of celebrity and the media influencing behaviour from a very young age – for both boys and girls.

  40. damon — on 15th June, 2011 at 11:14 am  

    Ravi Naik, KJB’s view comes from the ‘womanist’ perspective. Which looks kind of interesting.
    http://www.bing.com/search?q=womanist+&go=&qs=n&sk=&form=QBRE

    Afif, Yeah but … OK. I’m certainly not arguing with the central message of SlutWalk. But it’s like not supporting UAF (which I don’t) doesn’t mean that you therefore must have sympathy with fascists, it’s just a point of political difference with them and how they behave in public.

    But if this is just a way of women getting together and then, their meeting and networking brings about other possibilities, then I’m all for that.

    A march like this in the centre of the city will have little or no real affect, but having many smaller groups working in local high streets with leaflets and projecting their message to everyday people every week, would be more interesting and be targetted better I think. Street work is what’s required.

  41. ukliberty — on 15th June, 2011 at 11:31 am  

    Refresh,

    Why do women feel unable to report this crime?

    and

    Why does the system dismiss the crime so easily, as witnessed by the low rates of conviction?

    These are connected somewhat.

  42. ukliberty — on 15th June, 2011 at 11:57 am  

    Although I would say there is misreporting and / or confusion about the conviction rate.

  43. Refresh — on 15th June, 2011 at 11:58 am  

    ukliberty,

    yes, but only somewhat.

  44. Rumbold — on 15th June, 2011 at 1:29 pm  

    Ravi:

    This is either a brilliant man-hating parody, or the silliest rant I have ever read. You can’t possibly expect people to take this seriously.

    Why not? It is a reasonable point- that men (in general) are more likely to listen to other men, that it is women who mostly do most of the campaigning against rape, and that plently of rapes are unreported.

  45. Ravi Naik — on 15th June, 2011 at 4:19 pm  

    Rumbold – as far as I know, rape and pedophilia are crimes mostly committed by men, but the majority of men do not commit these vile and barbaric acts – so I am not sure what are the chances that my friends and people I know are rapists. Does KJB think that men (friends and co-workers) joke around about raping and sexually assaulting women, which prompts one to interrupt and say: “No guys, raping is wrong!”? Does she think most men are potential rapists, and we need to remind ourselves that sexually assaulting women is wrong?

    I believe that those that commit such vile crimes suffer from some form of psychosis, hence one cannot reason with them about their actions. What I can expect is that our system is able to convict them, and put them away for as long as possible.

  46. Ravi Naik — on 15th June, 2011 at 5:33 pm  

    Young girls (and boys too) should never be left alone and unsupervised with men.

    They should never be left alone and unsupervised – PERIOD.

    is damn near hysteria

    Douglas – you are not supposed to use the ‘h’ word, unless you want our resident uber-feminists to lecture you about its oppressive historical meaning.

  47. damon — on 15th June, 2011 at 6:05 pm  
  48. Refresh — on 15th June, 2011 at 7:04 pm  

    It is a rather odd piece of writing, I am compelled to say. Probably a sign of not having understood the nature of PP, rather than Ravi Naik’s pestering tendancies.

  49. Rumbold — on 15th June, 2011 at 7:05 pm  

    Ravi Naik:
    No, KJB doesn’t think most men are potential rapists, nor does she suggest that. But given the high percentage of rapes committed by men who know their victim, this shows that men can appear perfectly normal yet still be rapists. And some males do joke about rape/sexual assault. I couldn’t say how widespread it is, but it does happen. And others are unclear on consent, especially when they know the person (see the lawyer’s comments in the post for a good example).

  50. Ravi Naik — on 15th June, 2011 at 11:44 pm  

    Rumbold. This is what was said:

    Let me tell you men something that I’m sure some of you won’t like hearing – YOU need to take some responsibility in preventing rape. Men are more likely to listen to other men – it is your job to get the message across to your friends and co-workers. 95% of rapes go unreported because of lack of faith in the police; you have probably met a rapist and never even known it.

    I understood from this little gem that my friends and co-workers could be potential rapists as they are men, and therefore it is my responsibility to prevent rape by getting the message across to them. Have you done your part, Rumbold? What exactly did you tell your mates?

  51. Rumbold — on 16th June, 2011 at 8:39 am  

    Ravi Naik:

    What KJB meant was that it is important to talk about such matters, because, yes, rapists can come across as perfectly normal people. Just listen to the number of women who have been raped by a co-worker/friend and having no inkling that thety were like that.

    Have you done your part, Rumbold? What exactly did you tell your mates?

    I told them about going on Slutwalk, what it was about and why it was important.

  52. damon — on 16th June, 2011 at 10:26 am  

    I hope it can be agreed though that you can agree with the central aim of the SlutWalk march without actually wanting to go on it. In the same way that you might go on an anti-war march, but not want to walk with the Socialist Workers or the MCB or people carrying Hezbollah flags.

    And roll your eyes somewhat at the narrow demograpic that SlutWalk attracts. Right-on feminist activists and their young supporters, and dorky guys looking for kudos. It seems so unrepresentative of urban inner city London. And not multi-cultural.

  53. Ravi Naik — on 16th June, 2011 at 11:31 am  

    I told them about going on Slutwalk, what it was about and why it was important.

    Rumbold, with the risk of appearing pedantic, here is the mission statement from Slutwalk. This came about as a response to a representative of the Toronto Police and the general mindset of law enforcement:

    We are here to call foul on our Police Force and demand change. We want Toronto Police Services to take serious steps to regain our trust. We want to feel that we will be respected and protected should we ever need them, but more importantly be certain that those charged with our safety have a true understanding of what it is to be a survivor of sexual assault — slut or otherwise.

    So, the mission statement – in my view – is two-fold: ensure more women report sexual assault, and improve conviction rates by taking this crime more seriously. It targets the mindset of law enforcement and mainstream society in general that women are to be blamed for sexual assault. It is not, again in my view, about preventing rape by convincing men that sexual assault is wrong, and I still do not see how talking to your mates can actually prevent it. This is like telling Muslims to talk to each other and convince them that suicide bombing is wrong. Because Muslims listen to other Muslims, and they have their share of responsibility for preventing such heinous crimes.

    There is a point to be made about how offensive and ineffective this strategy is.

  54. KJB — on 16th June, 2011 at 1:51 pm  

    Thank you Rumbold!

    Ravi, what is the point of citing Toronto Slutwalk? That was more directly in relation to Michael Sanguinetti’s remarks. SlutWalk London was inspired by that, not replicating it.

    If men take rape so seriously, can someone please explain to me why people like Nonestar are on this thread, trying to obsess over what happens in a tiny minority of rape cases? It’s not normal, whenever murder comes up, to sit around obsessing over whether it was the victim’s fault for being in a particular place/time. It may come up, but the focus is first and foremost on catching the perpetrator.

    If men are so aware that rape is a heinous crime, why are the majority of victims raped by someone they know? Why did John Worboys and Delroy Grant go free for so long? Why has my simple suggestion that men address these issues with other men been attacked so much on this thread?

    Everything is not always about you – nobody has said or is saying that it is your duty to stop rape single-handed. What I said, which has been conveniently ignored, is that the extremely high prevalence of rape means that you may well have met somebody who raped a woman or child in your life – or, more than likely – somebody who knew about such an occurrence and did nothing. I’m sorry if you don’t like that, but those are the facts. Rapists will not go around with a sign on their head and their victims are hardly going to queue up to out them. Some may not even think that what they were doing was rape – when you know your victim, the circumstances are hardly likely to be clear.

    Marital rape was only made illegal in this country in 1991. Please explain to me, if this is self-evidently such a terrible crime, why did it take that long?

    This is like telling Muslims to talk to each other and convince them that suicide bombing is wrong.

    Or white campaigners against slavery talking to others and convincing them that slavery was wrong – and we all know how that ended!

    Women can be just as bad in this respect, but women’s rights campaigners can challenge them. Whereas, as some on this thread have shown, when we try to challenge men about it, the tired trick of trying to caricature us as militant feminists is used, rather than engaging with what we actually say. That is precisely why we do not talk about these issues openly – because of a tendency among some, not all, men, to deflect, deny, insult, patronise and belittle.

    Only with the help of men like Sunny and Rumbold can real change ever be achieved. I really appreciate your efforts to highlight these issues, Rumbold – I hope you do not get the kind of abuse that writers I know have, but I doubt it.

  55. Ravi Naik — on 16th June, 2011 at 3:19 pm  

    KJB – is the following paragraph ok with you? And if not, what is the difference between what you wrote and the following?

    “Let me tell you Muslims something that I’m sure some of you won’t like hearing – YOU need to take some responsibility in preventing terrorism. Muslims are more likely to listen to other Muslims – it is your job to get the message across to your friends and co-workers; you have probably met a terrorist and never even known it.”

    That is precisely why we do not talk about these issues openly – because of a tendency among some, not all, men, to deflect, deny, insult, patronise and belittle.

    Well, I find your STFU feminism and your broad – often negative – generalizations about people based on their gender do not help much. Real change comes when a coalition can be built based on mutual respect, not on divisive and polarising language which is what I see from your brand of feminism.

  56. KJB — on 16th June, 2011 at 3:43 pm  

    Hmmmm, perhaps if terrorism was a massively under-reported, often-invisible crime, that comparison might work!

    In case you missed the memo – the government’s strategy has been precisely this for a long time – trying to empower moderate Muslims to speak against fundamentalism.

    your STFU feminism

    I’m not a feminist, but you are a selective quoter. It’s STFU and listen. I find your broad, often negative generalisations about me do not help much. Real change comes when mutual respect (of which full acknowledgement of another’s position is a key aspect) allows for coalitions to be built without the Lib-Dem-esque justified fear of being thrown by the wayside.

  57. damon — on 16th June, 2011 at 3:49 pm  

    I’ve got to agree with what Ravi Naik just said.
    I am largely supportive of a lot of the broader aims of feminism, but am not a fan of the ‘earwicga’ school – if I can put it like that.
    I find it divisive and actually condescending.
    Because as a man, it’s like I have ”original sin” – and the only way I can absolve myself of it, and prove that I’m not a sexist, is to play the subserviant emasculated role alloted for me.
    Like a house trained puppy, I will be allowed in the house, but have to do as told on command. And sit when told to sit. And when put out in the garden, I will go out without a fuss until let back in again.

    But it’s politics, and everyone is welcome to their view. There are a whole host of feminists that I do admire, so it’s not a gender thing, just a political one.

  58. nonestar — on 16th June, 2011 at 5:23 pm  

    I’m not discussing how the world SHOULD be, but how the world actually is. I’m not discussing the merits of Slutwalk either. I am fine with its goals.

    It is not untenable that a person’s clothing may invite attention and harrassment that is undesirable. Rape is an extreme example of the kind of harrassment that one’s choice in clothing may incite, while admittedly it has a low in probability of occurrence compared to other types of harrassment, my comments aren’t just about rape or even clothing but about being mindful of where you are, who your around, and what messages you are putting out etc. to ensure that you’re not a victim of any harassment as best you can. I agree with the objective of Slutwalk (that a woman can dress however they want should not be subject to harrassment and should not “blamed” for any harassment if it does occur), but that is a dream for right now, rather than a ground reality. Given this, I do not support the notion that wearing “sexually provocative” clothes and behaving in a “sexually provocative” manner is a smart idea in the prescence of males in situations where they are likely to be drunk/aggressive/unsupervised/etc. In the here and now, it’s dumb, which doesn’t mean that if you get raped/assaulted, that it’s your “fault” or you were “inviting” it and that the rapist isn’t 100% responsible for the crime (or that they or the police can use it as an excuse for the crime and blame you for it) but that you left yourself vulnerable to being targeted and victimized when you could have made decisions to make yourself less susceptible.

    The bottom line is, an attacker will NEVER care about his/her “responsibilities to not attack you” (they only care about what they want) and this is why everyone should care about their responsibility to protect themselves at all times and not unnecessarily expose themselves to risky and dangerious situations, and attract negative attention. Unfortunately in the real world, dressing and behaving in certain ways may attract negative attention that is quite often predictable depending on the environment, and just because you and I wish it wasn’t so, doesn’t make it so. You have to be aware, it’s in your own interests to be.

    Lastly, I believe you can be both against victim-shaming/blaming AND state at the same time there are things that SOMETIMES a potential victim can reasonably do to avoid being a victim (probably a lot of things that they shouldn’t HAVE to do if we lived in a perfect world, but we don’t and never will). These are not mutually exclusive positions. And that is my only point. I’m sick of people who aren’t nuanced enough to understand that.

  59. ukliberty — on 16th June, 2011 at 6:18 pm  

    This may be of interest in relation to public attitudes:

    http://www.equalities.gov.uk/pdf/Stern_Review_of_Rape_Reporting_1FINAL.pdf#52

  60. Refresh — on 16th June, 2011 at 9:59 pm  

    This is ridiculous. KJB made an intemperate remark, out of passion and frustration. That is the end of it.

    And Ravi Naik, read and understood it to mean the same as I did.

    There need to be no great sacrifices to acknowledge each others perspectives.

    And nonestar does make relevant points too, the thing to do is stop battering each other and form alliances to progress the campaign.

  61. damon — on 17th June, 2011 at 2:05 am  

    STFU and listen

    That’s never a good starting place I find.
    There’s so many people, groups, movements and political parties that suggest that they have all the answers, and you just need to listen and take it in.

    Julie Bindel did this piece on the safety of female students yesterday.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/16/female-students-sexual-violence-harassment

    And after just a few comments from readers, she had to make one of her own, which went like this:

    And we’re off! Feminist posts article in which she points out that some men rape women. Men then challenge the basis of the study itself, its methodology, etc, etc.

    Some men rape. Accept it. Do something about it.

    I have always liked Deborah Orr much better.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/15/feminism-afraid-of-its-flaws?commentpage=8#comment-11195329

  62. Rumbold — on 17th June, 2011 at 8:42 am  

    Ravi (and others):

    Saying men can help to reduce rape isn’t saying that men are responsible collectively for rape, but that they can mae a difference. In terms of combatting rape, two avenues can be pursued; one is institutional, the other is social. Institutional is about changing things like reporting procedure, etc. Social is about changing attitudes.

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