There are plenty of people who love to dismiss the notion that there’s a rape culture that exists within our society. Rape culture excuses the behavior and in some cases the people who perpetuate these heinous acts. They excuse this behavior by pointing the finger at victim, asking questions like what did she drink?, what neighborhood was she in?, what time of night was it? and most commonly, what she was wearing?
All of this is victim blaming. It insinuates that the victim had something to do with their own assault. And it’s all problematic. More than anything we need to be teaching our brothers, our sons and cousins about consent, what constitutes it and what doesn’t, and above all else, don’t rape women. It all seems very simple. But in our society women have conversations with the younger generations about how to protect themselves from sexual assaults but not as often are younger males told simply do not assault women.
To illustrate society’s reliance on victim-blaming, yesterday Twitter user Christine Fox, who writes under the Twitter handle @steenfox, started a conversation where she asked her followers what they wore when they were sexually assaulted. Her question debunked the myth that women can somehow prevent their attacks by dressing differently.
There were several harrowing responses. Women wrote how they were wearing jeans and t-shirts, some were in office clothes, bathing suits, school clothes, a maxi dress, hooded sweatshirts etc.
The most memorable responses came from women who were sexually assaulted as young children.
“pink princess pajamas. I was 6.”
“House clothes-probably jeans and a t-shirt. I was 7. My mom’s friend babysat me. It was her nephew…”
“Pajamas at a sleepover in a room full of girls and an irresponsible mother.”
“…a black & white striped, one piece bathing suit with a ruffle around the middle. I was 6.”
Then there were the women who had survived several assaults and described more than one outfit.
Fox herself told The Washington Post that she was assaulted by a man she knew and trusted and there was nothing she could have done differently.
Fox says she hopes people focus on these stories. These stories and the brave people who shared them inspired some much needed conversations.
“I’m not an advocate or anything like that. I’m just a person who has had this experience. I had no idea that it was going to turn into this. The most important thing is that it brought awareness to a lot of people, myself included.”
She said in addition that the survivors, parents reached out to her to tell her they were going to talk to their children about sexual assault.