The concern for overly exposed young bodies may be well-intentioned. With society fetishizing girls at younger and younger ages, girls are instructed to self-objectify and see themselves as sexual objects, something to be looked at. A laundry list of problems can come from obsessing over one’s appearance: eating disorders, depression, low self-worth. Who wouldn’t want to spare her daughter from these struggles?
But these dress codes fall short of being legitimately helpful. What we fail to consider when enforcing restrictions on skirt-length and the tightness of pants is the girls themselves—not just their clothes, but their thoughts, emotions, budding sexuality and self-image.
Instead, these restrictions are executed with distracted boys in mind, casting girls as inherent sexual threats needing to be tamed. Dress restrictions in schools contribute to the very problem they aim to solve: the objectification of young girls. When you tell a girl what to wear (or force her to cover up with an oversized T-shirt), you control her body. When you control a girl’s body—even if it is ostensibly for her “own good”—you take away her agency. You tell her that her body is not her own.
When you deem a girl’s dress “inappropriate,” you’re also telling her, “Because your body may distract boys, your body is inappropriate. Cover it up.” You recontextualize her body; she now exists through the male gaze.❞
Safety advice against rape is more often than not given out aimed at women in cissupremecist binary language. When I am referring to “women” in this post, I mean all female-presenting persons who are at the receiving end of this advice. When I refer to “men”, I mean all male-presenting persons who are traditionally overlooked in being taught this kind of safety advice.
Advocating that we hold both victims and rapists equally accountable for an assault when alcohol is involved is pretty well entrenched in our society’s attitudes. It is part of the conflicting message that alcohol simultaneously makes rapists unaccountable for their own actions, while making victims responsible for the crimes committed against them.
Photo from SlutWalk Baltimore
It doesn’t help to combat these kinds of victim-blaming messages, when they continue to come from prominent public figures, such as The Wall Street Journal editor, James Taranto. It also then comes as no surprise when comments appear on articles like these that look to muddy the waters of sexual violence by raising faux concerns about false rape accusations from women who have consensual drunken sex they “regret” the next day.
Tropes like “women get drunk and falsely accuse men of rape the next day” always seem to gloss over the fact that men are many times more likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes than to be falsely accused of sexual assault.
I recommend that we change the discourse on alcohol and rape. Since women are so often given safety advice on how to avoid being victims of sexual violence, how about we try that same tactic with men?
If you are concerned about your friends being falsely accused of rape by going home with someone after a night of heavy drinking with the intention of having sex, then step in. Practice some bystander intervention on your buddy and get him to go home alone. Is his safety not more important than having risky sex? If he doesn’t trust her enough to believe she won’t falsely accuse him of rape, then be that sober voice that tells him not to go home with her.
Since it is entirely possible for men to be the victims of sexual violence in such a hookup, watch each others’ backs for that, too. Help protect your bros by making safety plans before going out, talking about whether everyone’s going home together, signals if they’re getting too drunk and need to get sent home, how to tell if someone is being too forward and making them uncomfortable, and how you’ll look out for one another. The toxic messages young men are fed about needing to engage in casual hookups and risky behaviour to prove their manliness can put them in danger. Talk to your guy friends about stuff like this before you head to the clubs.
This doesn’t mean blaming men if they don’t follow any or all of this advice and are sexually assaulted. At all. If your friend expresses disinterest or discomfort in a woman who is hitting on him, do not pressure him to hook up with her anyways. Do not make jokes at his expense if he tells you someone groped him in the club or that he’s feeling creeped-out by someone. If he discloses that he last night when he was intoxicated someone had sex with him without his consent, that’s rape. That’s not “getting lucky”. Respect your friends’ boundaries and stick up for them. You’ll surely want them to do the same for you.
There are a lot more resources being created of late to help men and boys talk about masculinity,what it means, and healthy ways to discover and establish their identities. Here are a few:
Do you have any other resources to recommend for men and boys and you’d like to share? Please leave them in the comments.
the non binary petition has only like jjust over 2 weeks and only has nearly 22,000 signs, but i dont think people realize that 22,00 is not enough and we need to get to 100,000 immediately
you are being depended on to sign this to help non binary peole and give them basic rights
cmon do it
here is a link to the petition, please please please sign/signal boost!
Hello all I am directing a play that I wrote on super short notice. Even if this doesn’t pertain to you please pass along!
A Kiss In The Dream House is the story of Zoe, a young Vietnamese-American woman preparing for her engagement ceremony to…