Dressing does not cause rape

THIS week has been full of a lot of dramatic things from Mr Ugly being too beautiful to qualify to the “anointed” condoms and the First Lady Grace Mugabe’s remarks on provocative dressing leading to rape…
Faithful readers have by now guessed which topic we will tackle first… the mother of the nation blaming dressing for rape.
In the first place, a first lady is the mother of the nation, apart from the children she biologically gave birth to…
Secondly, after all that grooming, there are certain remarks that are downright off colour and should never be uttered in public.
Thirdly, we have all heard of stories of babies in diapers being raped… Had they dressed provocatively too?
Anyway, Grace told supporters last week Friday at a rally in Mberengwa that the major chunk of rape cases being recorded in Zimbabwe are a direct result of “indecent dressing”
“If you walk around wearing miniskirts displaying your thighs and inviting men to drool over you, then you want to complain when you have been raped? It’s unfortunate because it will be your fault,” she said.
She even suggested all women dress like her, may we keep it at the back of our minds that this is the same woman who slut shammed former Vice President Joice Mujuru for allegedly wearing a mini-skirt.
“Wear clothes like Mai Mugabe or you can choose a trousers, but not those which are too tight. These types of clothes are the signs of moral decadence in our country,” she said.
Now, who exactly is defining “indecent” in this context? Grace herself or her socialisation that long skirts translate to being decent? A notion perpetuated by the patriarchal society that Zimbabwe has become, conveniently forgetting that back in the nhembe days women would strut topless.
Is she really saying that a woman can be raped because of what she is wearing?
Unfortunately, this is a very common piece of unhelpful and judgmental advice that our society seems to obsess over.
When it comes to conversations about an incident of sexual assault, the topic of how the survivor was dressed at the time always seems to come up.
If she (and yes, these comments are only ever applied to women) was dressed in any way that society can interpret as “sexy,” “revealing,” or “provocative,” then this becomes a factor worth mentioning. But why is this even relevant when someone assaults a woman?
The problem is that our society holds some ridiculous beliefs around how revealing clothes supposedly increase the risk of sexual assault.
First, we think that perpetrators are sex-crazed men who cannot control themselves at the mere sight of a woman dressed in provocative clothes.
In reality, sexual violence is not about sex — that’s a myth!
So whether you are wearing a short skirt or a long one, it does not make a difference, because sexual assault is about exerting power and control over someone else.
Clothes are NOT a risk factor. The only risk factor is the presence of a rapist.
And really, if the issue was about perpetrators not being able control themselves around women dressed in revealing clothing, then rates of sexual assault at beaches, pools, and fashion shows would be out of control.
Second, there is a messed up idea that women dressing in revealing clothes are “asking for it”.
Women, and men for that matter, dress in many different ways for many different reasons.
Even if someone is dressing sexy because they want to have sex, they still get the choice of who and when!
No one dresses sexy because they want to be raped.
This ridiculous idea is well explored by some excellent ads in the U.K.: “Not Ever” and “Nobody Asks to be Raped.”
The clear reality, as stated by research looking at both sexual assault and sexual harassment is that clothing is not a significant factor in sexual violence.
A woman’s outfit is often used during a rape trial to discredit her reputation and suggest she is the “sort of woman” unlikely to refuse consent to sex.
The way women dress is routinely cited as an incitement to rape, references to sheer and clinging fabrics, low-slung jeans and low-cut tops, bare midriffs, short skirts and liberally applied make-up are common in the context of rape trials.
Women are often judged on the basis of the way they present themselves, as though the presence of a bra or a subtler shade of lipstick might have made all the difference between an uneventful occasion, and one on which a sexual assault took place.
The assumption that such choices can lead to rape — saying clothes can speak for women who say no — are ludicrous and extremely damaging.
Scrutinising the way in which a woman was dressed at the time of an assault is one of many ways in which common myths and prejudices are exploited in order to damage her reputation and credibility in the interests of the defence.
The suggestion that there even is such a thing as an “invitation to rape” is appalling! And the very fact that our first lady is sold on this school of thought is devastating.
What amai is merely saying is : silly girls. If you did not show-off your lady parts, you would not be as remotely prone to sexual harassment as you are now. Or worse — rape.
I am told there are far too many young men with uncontrollable urges.
When they feast their eyes upon your barely covered naughty bits, the beast inside comes roaring to the surface. They just cannot help it. Oh, please, what is this nonsense? This just has to be the highest level of dog crap.
I accept the fact that men are visual. Writer Mike Matthews puts it like this in an article on catholiceducation.org.
“....The fact is, it doesn’t take much visual stimulus at all for guys to become sexually aroused.
“The sight of the female body, even just a little bit and even if it’s a complete stranger, can trigger sexual thoughts instantly. This might be difficult for women to understand, but it’s absolutely true...”
Mike, it is not difficult for women to understand. In fact, many women actually like it.
But, sexual arousal does not have to lead to sexual violence.
The way I see it is it is insulting to men because it implies that all men are dangerous to women and have an insatiable sexual appetite!
In my research, I found out that the average rapist is a violent criminal who craves complete power over his victim. Sometimes he gets a sexual charge out of it and sometimes he does not.
And it has little to do with what a woman looks like and everything to do with violent, criminal tendencies.
Again, let me say that a lady’s dressing should never be seen by any sane person as an invitation to rape.
All I have to say after my rant above is that amai needs to take a look at society and not encourage dangerous tendencies.
As the first lady, people adore her and follow what she says very closely. Saying dressing leads to rape is very insensitive, especially coming from a role model.
I will not delve into her morally questionable actions just to prove that dressing is not personality. I will however say that you should not throw stones when you stay in a glass house.
Lest we forget, nasty rumours about the first daughter being raped have made the rounds… Does it mean she was inappropriately dressed?
Food for thought.

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