Not asking for it

A high school friend of mine, someone who I have sadly lost all but Facebook contact with since graduation, posted something subtly offensive. It was so subtly offensive, that I even agreed with the whole of it until the end, brainwashed as I am by socially accepted linguists.

Here is what he posted. What do you think?
asking-for-it

My issue with this post and those who support it developed slowly and then quickly snowballed into an avalanche. This is a prime example of where our linguists fail women; when we excuse crude behavior and “thirsty men” by censoring women, we are telling women that they are less than and need to hide a part of themselves that they wish to express. Furthermore, we are saying it’s okay to sexually exploit others if they behave a certain way.

Even if showing your booty is not the way you would personally choose to express yourself, that does not mean someone who does is without respect and does not deserve respect.

It is not okay to sexually exploit anyone. Period.

I heard on the news a few weeks ago about serial sexual assault in one of the Chicago’s neighborhoods. A police man from that area stated on the radio that he advised women to not leave their houses after dark or to travel in groups. No matter how prudent that advice might seem, it really pissed me off. When an official states that women need to modify their behavior because of someone else’s unwanted behavior they are saying that it is a woman’s responsibility not to be assaulted, not to be raped, rather than the assaulter’s responsibility not to assault and rape in the first place.

AND, if we want to get really technical, that statement is justification for harassment of women who disregard advice and travel outside alone after dark.

Second of all, showing pictures of your booty, your tattoos, your dance moves–no matter how Miley Cyrus–and you and your bestie acting goofy does not mean that you don’t respect yourself. Perhaps it’s fair to say it shows immaturity, but not a lack of self-respect. I don’t have booty pictures or revealing pictures of my body on Facebook because I continually have to remind myself to love my body; I don’t always love my butt, my thighs, the bags under my eyes, my height or my figure. If anything, I show a lack of self-respect because I’m not proud enough of my body to express an open love
for it.

I’m sure my high school friend was simply standing up for modesty, but the way he approached the conversation is another detrimental notch to what is wrong with the way we treat the victims of sexual harassment.

And because I’m sure I didn’t hit this topic home for everyone, I’m including this excellent TEDtalk about how linguistic, even though is sounds stuffy, is the root of the issue concerning gender and sexuality.

2 comments

  1. Molly, this was a smart piece which I sincerely enjoyed reading and, like you with the facebook post, I found myself agreeing with it by and large as I read it. However, after thinking about it for a little while my viewpoint changed with regard to the points you raised. When you stated that “this is a prime example of where our linguists fail women…” I feel that you’re assessment fails to tackle the greater problem in our society.

    I know this is not a popular viewpoint, but the truth is that as a culture we have declined to the point of viewing virtually any degree of vulgar, distasteful, or improper behavior as perfectly acceptable, or at the very least as a “form of personal expression.” While I agree with you that it is wrong to blame the victim of a sex crime for the action of the perpetrator, and by no means are those perpetrators exonerated of their actions by the unseemly behavior of their victims, I also feel that women (and men; ALL human beings) have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a dignified manner. It’s undignified to twerk and post photographs of oneself barely dressed.

    I am by no means saying that a person who chooses to do so is not worthy of respect. To the contrary, I am saying that they are deserving of all means of human dignity, and they are cutting themselves short by seeking undignified attention. The root of the problem is a cultural acceptance of the blatant disregard for the dignity of all human beings. And this is not a failure on the part of linguists.

    So when you stated: “It is not okay to sexually exploit anyone. Period.” I would agree with this, but I would add one additional angle to that statement that many women (and men) tend to overlook: It’s not okay to sexually exploit anyone, but most especially ourselves. It not only degrades the individual, it also degrades society as a whole.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post. I wish you all the best.

    1. That depends on on someone’s personal definition of “dignity” and “inappropriate.” In other cultures, where women wearing veils or ankle length skirt are required, me going out in a jeans with my hair in a ponytail for all to see would be viewed as inappropriate by those cultures.

      I would agree with what you find the appropriate way to present oneself, BUT I do not assign my personal opinions to others just as I do not pass judgement on those who have a different faith than me.

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