Home / Slut walks, rape, and hypocrisy - what's eye candy got to do with it?  
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How we do love eye-candy. And, after all, "since when is a woman dressing sexy in public a bad thing?"

By now, you've probably heard about the various "slut walks" that are happening all over the world. The slut walks are a response to a "safety tip" made by a Toronto police officer suggesting that women can avoid sexual assaults by not dressing like sluts. In other words, although rape may be non-consensual sex, don't encourage or instigate it. Stop "provoking" attention to yourself. In our politically correct world, that's not something you can say without there being repercussions. As one protest sign proclaimed, "a dress is not a yes."

The term slut is typically considered derogatory: a promiscuous woman with loose sexual morals, especially a prostitute. However, as many consider morality a relative concept, and considering these women are protesting for the right to be able to dress like sluts, it's not clear whether being a slut is "good" or "bad." What is clear is that there are women (and men) around the world who think that a person should be able to act however they want (in this case, wear whatever they want) without having someone initiate force against them for doing so.

Is that really such a terrible concept? Certainly seems reasonable: don't initiate violence against us just because of what we wear.

Additionally, compare this idea with some cultures where women actually iron their breasts so as to deform and make themselves less attractive - thus, theoretically, becoming less prone to rape. It's unlikely we'll be seeing any slut walks in Cameroon. Interestingly, in one study, more than half of women blamed the victims of sexual assault.

The challenge with the slut walks is that many of the same people who deplore violence against women for what they wear are supportive of initiating violence against people for other reasons (e.g., because someone makes more money, because someone is a divorced man, because someone is an unproven but potential terrorist, because someone smoked marijuana). The hypocrisy is based on social contract theory: effectively, I have the right to initiate force against you as long as the majority agrees with me.

It's questionable whether or not those who protest in these slut walks are doing so based on some philosophical tenet like the initiation of force is always wrong (aka the non-aggression principle). More than likely, instead of there being some fundamental conviction that initiating force against innocent victims is always wrong, they are trying to gather majority support for the idea that initiating force against a woman in only certain circumstances is wrong (e.g., wears certain clothes, says no to sex). With enough support, their idea will become one held by the majority and then integrated into the social contract.

As a comparison, it is unlikely you will find many of these slut-walkers protesting against the government's initiation of force against innocent women. Although there are exceptions, like ifeminists, in many cases, women who are adamantly against sex when they say no are adamantly supportive of a government who initiates force against women during war or who puts women in jail when they, for example, say no to taxes. After all, "no means no" doesn't apply to violence against women accepted within the social contract.

The two primary arguments basically go like this: 1) a person is morally wrong when initiating force against others, and rape is a clear example of someone initiating force; 2) a victim shares some moral responsibility for force being initiated against her based upon her actions. (In fact, Ayn Rand's infamous rape scene in The Fountainhead has often been debated as to whether or not it was rape based upon argument #2.)

A few analogies complicate these arguments. Let's say you have a choice to walk home from work late at night taking two different paths, each that require the same amount of time and effort. One path is well-lit and with many people; as such, it is considered a "safe" route. The other path doesn't have street lights, is through alleys where it is known many criminals hide, and is considered a "dangerous" route. If you choose to take the dangerous path and violence is initiated against you, should you be judged as partially responsible for the crime? After all, shouldn't you be free to walk wherever you want and not be victimized just because you took a different path? Or, did you encourage the situation and, ultimately, a crime, because of your choices and actions?

Here's another analogy: let's say someone wants to live somewhere in peace without government intervention or paying any taxes. So she buys a home in the country away from people and becomes self-sufficient. The local government sends her a bill for property taxes which she refuses to pay. So the police arrest her and put her in jail for not paying her taxes, and they sell her home to pay the taxes. All the woman had to do was concede to pay the taxes and the police wouldn't have used force against her. In other words, she chose the "dangerous" path and violence was initiated against her. Most would consider the violence used against her solely the result of her actions and, thus, she is fully responsible.

What if a white woman goes to a predominantly black neighborhood and wears a T-shirt that says "I hate black people?" Should she be allowed to wear that shirt and not considered partially responsible if someone initiates violence against her for doing so? (As an aside, remember that some governments have laws against what people can and cannot wear, such as sagging pants or burqas.)

What makes the analogies different from rape being partially caused by what you wear? Is what a woman wears a contributing factor to rape? Can a victim be partially responsible for violence that is initiated against her? When we voluntarily take actions that are more likely to create a situation where violence will occur, should victims be held more responsible? What constitutes encouragement of a crime? Why are women not morally required to dress a certain way in order to discourage rape? Why can a woman say no to sex but not say no to others (like the government) who want to initiate force against her? What standards should be applied when determining whether a woman is partially or solely responsible for violence being initiated against her?



Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Jun 6, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=572

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