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Dressing Like A Victim

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Dressing Like a Victim

No-one wants to tell the truth about clothing and rape.

Victims can be traumatized just reading about rape.
Victim advocates fly into a rage trying dispel "myths"
and feminists's blood boils trying to protect "rights"
every time someone on the "outside" tries find out "causes".

But the truth is no-one knows. Most rape is never reported.
The published studies we DO have don't tell us anything -
only that the young and female are likely to be victims
and that provocative dress changes observer's "attributions".

I don't have the answers. The people that do are the police -
not in their statistics, which are useless, but in forensics
where criminologists pore over clothing to gather evidence -
but they have no interest in answering our idle questions
and instead reserve themselves for the questions they face
defending that evidence in front of a jury.

Very well. Let them work.
In the absence of evidence,
I must fall back on my own experience.

In my experience, provocative clothing is not the issue
but instead provocative companions who mean you no good.
People who believe that sexy clothing somehow causes rape
fail to realize that dressing like a mouse is no protection,
but people who believe in their right to wear sexy clothing
fail to realize dressing to impress is no protection either.

Or is it?
I've been through a lot
and seen even more - muggings, and rape, and murder.

And I've seen where one person falls victim while another
walks through the valley of the shadow of death unscathed
- both wearing, of course, the same dress.

Yet I could always tell what would happen.
I saw them, the bold ones, the confident
walking firmly with head held high
always destined for their destination
where I, desperate for attention,
was destined to be hit upon
to be robbed at gunpoint,
to be raped.

So, yes, I have some experience.

The problem, I tell myself, wasn't my dress. It was my selfconfidence.
Until I learned to pick my head up high
and turn my back upon the people
that I had formerly courted
I was shit upon.
Only when I learned to stand by myself
did I find myself free to do and be what I want.
I don't know that would have saved me from being raped.
I do know I would have enjoyed planting my foot into the nuts
of my ex-boyfriend before he threw me down,
and that image will have to be enough.

So, I think:

It doesn't matter what you wear.
It matters how much you respect yourself.
How much attention you pay to your surroundings.
And most importantly, who you choose to be with.
Rape can happen to anyone - man or woman, mouse or model -
but if you choose not to think like a victim
and choose not to expose yourself to predators
you are less likely to become a victim of one.

- Athena Summers, Principal, Riverton Middle School