An Open Letter To Stephen Dixon At Sky News

26/01/2017 16:17

Dear Stephen,

You recently asked the question, in front of millions, "Is it a dreadful thing to say if women are out in short skirts and drunk that they don't need to take any personal responsibility?"

You also tweeted, and subsequently deleted, this, "@murdo27 what's wrong with taking some responsibility?"

So I thought I'd ask you a few questions in return, all in the name and spirit of playing "Devil's advocate" of course...

How would you answer the following:

If a man walks down the street wearing an expensive suit, is he giving you permission to rob him?

If a man walks down the street wearing a unicorn onesie, is he asking you to abuse him?

If a man walks down the street wearing a burka, does that give you the right to assault him, or pull him into an alleyway and "let him have it"?

What's your answer?

Just in case you are in any doubt, the answer to all those questions is no, no and no.

But you know this, right?

Because regardless of what another man chooses to wear, it doesn't give you the right to rob, abuse or assault him.

Let's go one further.

If a child wears a fluffy jumper, are they "asking for it"? Do you have the right to rob, abuse and assault a child based on their choice of clothing?

In case you are in any doubt, the answer is no.

But you know that, right?

Let's swap "child" for "woman".

What then?

What if a woman walks down the street wearing high heels and a short skirt and you find her attractive, you are aroused on seeing her, does that give you permission to assault her?

Is she "asking for it"?

In case you were in any doubt, the answer is no.

But you knew that, right?

On the off chance that you don't, the answer is no because what a man, woman or child chooses to wear has nothing to do with you not being able to control your violent thoughts, desires and actions.

Clothes do not provoke you into doing anything to anyone else. Neither do they permit, incite or invite you.

How could they?

Clothes are inanimate objects. They have no brain, no muscles, no ability to do anything.

But you do. And it's your brain which permits you to act.

Even so, that doesn't excuse your behaviour, or justify your actions, or alleviate you from having to control yourself.

Or are you suggesting that someone else's clothes are brainwashing you into assaulting them?

If the answer to that is yes, please call a doctor. You may need help.

If the answer is no, and you still think you're allowed to assault other people based on their choice of clothing, please call a doctor. You may need help.

Do you need help? I have no idea.

At the very least, you might need to learn the art of not asking a loaded question.

Or maybe you did it all deliberately in the style of Trump, to improve the ratings: saying something contentious which you knew would be very likely to get a lot of attention and spark outrage, leading to even more attention and higher ratings.

What next?

When my daughters are old enough, we will no doubt have a chat about how some men treat women. By which I mean, how some men still seem to think it's ok to abuse and assault women because of what they're wearing. At which point they may ask me, "What should we do dad?"

To which I'll say, "I wish I could give you a definitive answer, or a one-size-fits-all solution that will eliminate the problem. All I can say, right now, is that you'll have to make a considered decision each and every time you go out the door as to what you want to wear. And you'll have to do that because some men still think it's ok to attack you based on your choice of clothing."

I don't want to have that conversation, but I fear I still might have to.

Unless...

We do something about it.

The good news is that you can help!

In your position as an important Sky News reporter, you have the perfect opportunity to ask better questions. To play a better Devil's advocate.

Instead of asking if women should take responsibility for being attacked in response to their choice of clothing, you can turn the tables!

Target the attacker instead.

Here's a question you could ask them, "Is it a dreadful thing to say, if you see women are out in short skirts and drunk, that you shouldn't attack them?"

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