“Women should avoid dressing like Sluts in order not to be victimized.” -Michael Sanguinetti
Talk about the Larger Issues
What was wrong with Sanuinetti’s comment anyway? Wasn’t he just giving good advice?
That was what many people who came to his defence responded with. However, this comment was plagued with many ideas that were symptomatic of many problems within our society. It was symptomatic of many of our damaging ideas surrounding sexuality, and female sexuality at that.
1) That certain people are more deserving of rights and protections than others
2) The implication that what a woman wears has anything to do with her likelihood to be sexually assaulted: it doesn’t
3) That women are somehow capable of preventing themselves from becoming sexually assaulted
4) That there is some universal and agreed upon idea of exactly what a Slut is in the first place.
Sanguinetti’s was not the first comment like this, and it was certainly not the first time survivors of sexual assault have been blamed for the crimes committed against them.
Like CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville case
or what about this one?
Or what about the 11 year old girl who was blamed for being gang raped because of what she was wearing by the New York times?
It’s time we started addressing issues of Victim Blaming, Consent, and the Policing of women’s bodies.
Dispel Rape Myths
Many of us are misinformed about several aspects of Sexual Assault, convinced that if women were just a bit more careful, then maybe we could prevent this. What we aim to do is to help bring awareness to many aspects of sexual assault like:
1) What a woman wears has no bearing on her likelihood to be Sexually Assaulted. In over 70% of Sexual Assault cases, the accused cannot even recall what the victim was wearing.
2) In 89% of Sexual Assault Cases, the victim knows the Rapist. It is almost always a friend or an acquaintance
3) In 58% of Sexual Assault cases, the victim is under the age of 18. In approximately 35% of those cases, the victim is also under the age of 12.
4) In 94% of Sexual Assault cases, the accused is male
5) It is estimated that 1 in 3 women in Canada will experience attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
Create Larger conversations about Consent
We live in a society in which media is constantly teaching us lessons about gender: What it means to be masculine and what it means to be feminine. That being effeminate implies inferiority. It implies that being feminine means being submissive.
Masculinity is often correlated with aggression, dominance and coercion.
The idea of “Implied Consent” needs to begin disappearing from our vocabulary. We need to start dispelling the idea that someone’s actions imply that they necessarily want to have sex. We need to start having larger conversations about what consent means.
Consent means an enthusiastic “Yes!”
*Statistics shown come from the GSS Survey 2004-2007 Statistics Canada
Race, Gender, and Class all play an integral aspect in issues surrounding sexual violence. Women of colour are exponentially more likely to experience sexual violence in their lifetime. This issue is further exacerbated by issues surrounding poverty.
Instances of sexual violence are additionally exacerbated in the trans community as well. Although social acceptance of trans communities are growing, statistical research of transgendered and intersexed individuals gathered by the Gender, Violence and Resources Agency shows that over 50% of trans individuals had been raped or sexually assaulted by a romantic partner.
How can I get involved in my own community?