Clothing Doesn’t Dictate Rape

20 Jul

Club FashionI was riding over to the Sidelines office tonight and listening to 107.5 The River. Every night they play an advice DJ named Dawson McAllister. I’ve heard his show – DM Late Nights – many times and I have to say that he is one of the most judgemental and narrow-minded people I’ve ever heard give advice.

I’m sure Mr. McAllister only wants to help kids. I’m sure he’s a very nice person. I’m sure he really thinks about what he says to these kids and the thousands of others that listen – but he should think a little harder.

Tonight, he made a comment that particularly made my skin crawl. One of his male callers asked him: why do girls dress so provocatively and then complain about unwanted attention. He made a dismissive comment, then followed up with, “You get what you advertise.”

Excuse me Dawson? “You get what you advertise?”

This is one of the fundamental problems in our society – the notion that women (and men) dress to attract attention. When a woman wears too much makeup, a tight shirt or a shorter skirt, why does she deserve unwanted attention. What are you implying that she is advertising?

One of the oldest witch-hunt tactics in rape cases is that the woman “asked” for it because of what she was wearing or how she was acting. But maybe they got what they advertised – right Dawson?

What McAllister should have said was fashion is for the wearer. Women and men should dress for themselves – for what makes them happy, comfortable and/or confident. A woman should never be afraid to show as much (or as little) cleavage, leg, shoulder, back or any part of her body that she wants. The same applies to men. We should be able to do this without fear of ramifications in the form of unwanted advances, catcalls or physical assault.

No, I am not advocating that we run around naked. Nudity is something, unfortunately, dictated by social norms, and as it stands, it is socially unacceptable (unless in designated areas). But this isn’t a discussion about nudity, it’s a discussion about the freedom to express ourselves with fashion and not be confronted with hostile and/or violent consequences.

But it’s comments like Dawson’s that creates an atmosphere of fear and an acceptance for people to discriminate based on what others wear. Shame Dawson McAllister, you are supposed to be teaching kids how to be strong – part of which is being confident and not feeling like they deserve unwanted attention for any reason (including how they dress).



7 Responses to “Clothing Doesn’t Dictate Rape”

  1. Eric 07.14.2009 at 4:08 pm #

    I’ll have to say, even though I’m not a fan of Dawson McAllister, I think his words are being misrepresented.

    Girls that dress like that aren’t asking to get raped. I don’t think that’s what he means. I feel what he was trying to say is that girls that dress like that are more likely to be sexually assaulted.

    Look at it this way… The average male is much more likely to be sexually attracted to a girl if she wears clothing as shown in your picture above, but less likely to a girl in sweats. It’s just male nature to be that way.

    Now, the argument that it calls for rape is severely flawed, but I’ve seen several friends in my life receive sexual harassment from how they dress some days compared to other days.

    Just my 2¢.

  2. Isabel Holmes 07.14.2009 at 1:34 pm #

    So women should wear head to toe coverings and ski masks in order to avoid sexual harassment? I think the point is that even if showing more skin attracts unwanted attention, if the woman makes it clear that the attention is indeed unwanted, continued harassment is the fault of the man. So yeah, if i go out tonight in a mini skirt a man might think it’s acceptable to grope me. This is not my fault, the man should know that it is never acceptable to grope someone no matter what they’re wearing.

  3. Megan 07.14.2009 at 9:18 pm #

    Wow, there’s so much wrong with Eric’s comment I don’t even know where to start. “If you don’t want to be raped/sexually assaulted/sexually harassed, just wear sweats, ladies! It’s that simple. The menz can’t help it.” Ugh.

    Victim-blaming (“You get what you advertise”) makes me so angry. Let’s see what Dawson says about how to dress – “If you advertise who you are on the inside, with such traits as kindness, gentleness, sensitivity, great personality, etc., they will be drawn to you for that.” So I’m supposed to dress kindly, sensitively… oh wait that doesn’t make any sense.

    That whole blog post you linked to makes me sick, he makes so many assumptions about what it’s like to be a teenaged girl!

    Thanks for the awesome post, Andy.

  4. Barbi Bruce 07.14.2009 at 1:47 am #

    I agree with you Harper and am glad that you addressed this. I personally don’t agree that continued unwanted sexual remarks, harrasment and such, have much to do with dressing provocative. I used to get continually harrassed driving my cab no matter what I wore: flannel shirt, T-shirt, sweat shirt or sweater with long slacks. Being fully covered or not didn’t make that much of a difference. I used to dress down to avoid such behavior, but it didn’t work. What people do not seem to realize is that there are people out there that choose not to outwardly control there random thoughts. Everyone has had someone that they have looked at and thought now that’s hot, I would like to have some of that, but not everyone has acted on those thoughts. What ends up happening much to often is society instantly blaming the girl for looking good. I suppose in my case I deserve the blame because I’m a female driving a cab. I say whatever to that! I have a right to earn a living with out harrassment whatever occupation I am in.

  5. Barbi Bruce 07.14.2009 at 1:51 am #

    I guess I should have added that I do think some girls do dress way to sexy, but that dosen’t mean they deserve to be treated badly.

  6. Eric Smith 07.14.2009 at 5:41 am #

    I’ve heard this guy, Andy Harper, and I have to say that he is one of the most judgemental and narrow-minded people I’ve ever heard blog.

    Okay, sarcasm aside, how you (Andy Harper) managed to transform a logical and reasonable explanation given by Dawson into a claim that Dawson promotes the idea that girls who dress a certain way deserve to be raped.

    Lets look at your first claim: “One of his male callers asked him: why do girls dress so provocatively and then complain about unwanted attention.” Dawson’s response is, “You get what you advertise.” Dawson’s statement happens to be a fact not opinion. You seem to translate his response to “You DESERVE what you advertise.” and then latter in your rant you expand that translation to include “and you deserve to get raped as well” If you dress with half of your breasts sticking out, then you can EXPECT guys to pay more attention to your breasts. That’s a simple fact that anyone can understand.

    Your next claim “This is one of the fundamental problems in our society – the notion that women (and men) dress to attract attention.” Men and women do dress to attract attention. Maybe not all the time and maybe not for sexual attention but yes they do. Are you claiming that people don’t dress up nicely for dates, parties, and special events because they want to impress others?

    And finally you state “One of the oldest witch-hunt tactics in rape cases is that the woman “asked” for it because of what she was wearing or how she was acting.” You attempt to draw a parallel between this and Dawson’s remarks. Its pathetic that you attempt to smear this man by bringing up witch-hunts. Its also pathetic how you gradual transform this man’s statement into something it was not.

    You finish by spouting off how we should not be discriminated based on what we wear. Okay… I’m sure Dawson agrees with you, yet you present it in a way that assumes Dawson doesn’t. It’s simply a technique to make readers view Dawson’s comments in the same incorrect way that you view them.

    It turns out sir, that you are the judgemental and narrow-minded person, and not Dawson.

  7. Roxy 07.14.2009 at 11:32 am #

    Andy— you are right on the mark. I have been on the receiving end of cat-calls and verbal assault for the way I dress. People have jumped to conclusions many times, and accused me of “asking for” bullying. However, having been bullied for being Jewish, for being “white,” for being female, and for whatever a bully decided to bully me on. Bullies never act along— there are people who make excuses for them, and condone their actions.

    And I can honestly say one thing: they will bully you no matter what you wear or don’t wear. Clothing is just one more excuse bullies use, because they think they will get away with it. And rapists are bullies, as is anyone who engages in catcalls, verbal assaults, and physical assaults. My clothes don’t “invite” attention, people choose to give it in the way they react. Even if someone doesn’t like my clothes, that is only their opinion— it does not give them the right to impose it on me.

    A rapist will not stop raping just because you put on a long shirt, and neither will they stop when you provide them with excuses. But rape and other forms of bullying affect everyone in the community, and are unacceptable— period. Clothing does not hurt anyone, however, opinions like that DJ’s do. They provide excuses for the people, not the clothes, that ultimately hurt our communities.

    Great post! 😀

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