A response to Slutwalk Portland

The Slutwalk: a new tradition featuring a brazen display of unabashed sexuality and freedom. Wonderful, right? Women should be free to do what they wish with their bodies, wherever and with whomever they want. I agree. But for every cause there is an effect; every well-intending person will face an unfortunate rendering of psychopathy; and we all have or eventually will make a stupid decision that may lead to serious harm.  

The walk is a statement about women being able to show themselves in obviously sexual ways but also how it should not be taken sexually or used as permission to assault. The walk also makes the statement that women are never responsible for being raped.

These messages have good intentions, but, for one, they are trying to liberate an already liberated population. Nobody is saying that women shouldn’t be able to dress how they wish, but anyone sensible would think about the consequences of wearing attire that is meant to draw attention to intimate parts.

Feminists are right about one thing: What a woman wears (or does not wear) should not give license for others to take advantage of her. It is never OK to sexually assault someone. Though, what the statistics actually show is that women who are more demure and shy in their behavior and conservative in their dress are more vulnerable to being attacked, and women who display themselves sexually project confidence and assertiveness that criminals are less likely to go after. Sexual assaults are predominantly about power and the desire to undermine, and someone who displays an abundance of power is not an ideal target.

Still, dressing slutty will not serve you well unless it’s objectification that you hope to accomplish. Don’t get me wrong, I like to look at butts and boobs too. (Is that sexist if I’m also a woman?) If I didn’t get stared at every time I went in public without a bra, I would omit that stuffy garment daily. I know that my skinny jeans, which I grew up wearing and feel most comfortable in, are quite form fitting and some men take that as me wanting them to look at my bum. Although it is still inappropriate for them to comment aloud on my appearance, I totally understand the human impulse to look at someone who appeals to you. This is something women need to be aware of and be cautious about.

When viewing women who they’ve never met before adorned in a skimpy bikini, the same part of a male brain activates as when men use tools. Objects. Men are thinking of pure physicality and nothing else. Well, if the striking image of your mostly bare body is all you exhibit, then what else is there to think about if one doesn’t know you?

Biologically, men are visual creatures, voyeurs not of their own doing but by nature. Women are too of course, but men much more so. If this is not the case, then why are there thousands of female-centered strip joints to every one that features males dancers? Why do men collectively spend much more money than women (who spend no money) to access porn or swimsuit magazines?

Men are wired to have a sexual response to a sensual image (shocker), and some will even react to a mannequin in a store window. This is not because men are socialized perverts, but because their brains are very different and visually oriented by nature’s orders. This is not mutually exclusive across sexual orientations: Gay men have strong responses to the sight of other men. I think we can safely say that the sexual imagery we encounter in passing is aimed at heterosexual men, proving that men are wired this way—gay or not. Most men learn how to control all this sexual input and be respectful. Think though of how tortured they must be, with advertisements and media images everywhere celebrating the tantalizing female body.

These facts of nature get muddled when we live in a campus culture that commonly points to the unscientific figure claiming “one in five women in college will get sexually assaulted.” Therefore, men are pigs. Yet no, anyone who has looked into the matter will see that what is considered sexual assault in that statistic, which was concluded by a mere telephone survey with a low response rate, also includes really dumb decisions and sexual encounters that were not assault but simply regrettable. Does anyone ever consider that the constant messages from society that tell women that they are oppressed and victimized plus the promotion of wild sexuality and poor decision making (i.e. the Slutwalk) might equate to these shocking results?

Getting hammered and having consensual sex is not rape. Getting hammered and passing out at a party (a circumstance which leaves one quite vulnerable) is raw ignorance. Dress does have an influence on what a man feels comfortable doing when a woman flirts with him and gets to know him. Avoiding sexual assaults and advances is not about telling women how to act but rather about keeping them safe: Be aware of the messages you send, and don’t put yourself in a vulnerable situation—especially while impaired.

Additionally, bogus revenge claims do happen. There are a number of decidedly discredited accusations, but these undeserved cries for victimhood belittle the terrifying experience of the actual victim who was sober, cornered, and unsuspecting. Instead of helping women to a) take responsibility for their actions or b) be smart enough to avoid an obvious situation where they could be attacked, we are training them to believe that nothing is their fault but always the man’s and that the easy way out of any regrettable situation is to claim victimhood. Oh, and don’t forget that sacrificing your self-respect and the mysterious beauty that is your body will certainly not make people think differently of you.

The truth is that women in America are the most liberated, free, badass creatures on the planet. Really, we have the freedom and power to accomplish great things, from intellectual attainment, societal and career pursuits, being mothers, and a number of other things; we are free to do it all. Our choice of attire is no exception, but we take our freedoms for granted and insist that we are victimized, as the way we dress and act shouldn’t warrant any consequences according to slut principles.