"Now, should we treat women as independent agents, responsible for themselves? Of course. But being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don't get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they were not careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them." - Jessica Valenti
We live in a society whereby sexual assault is belittled, rationalised and even condoned. The manner in which women dress is constantly quoted as a stimulus to rape. Nevertheless, victims are judged on the basis of illustration; as if a finer shade of eye-liner, lipstick or foundation could have possibly made a greater disparity. The very supposition that such autonomous choices can lead to sexual assault are nonsensical and exceptionally detrimental.
At this stage, some serious questions have to be asked. Is the media objectifying women to such an extent whereby it is virtually certain that it bears some responsibility for rape culture? Look at films, books, magazines or even the fashion industry for instance. From an early age we are barraged with fraudulent outlooks and cultivate negative attitudes and perceptions about the female form, 'Barbie' is only one out of many polemic illustrations. It is widely construed that popular culture has fashioned a special purpose for women; exploited, used and abused for pleasure and satisfaction of any kind for any kind.
If we challenge or even begin to voice against these objectifying responsibilities and ask to be regarded as people, with the autonomy to make choices concerning our sense of dress, sexuality, what we eat, drink or say, we are habitually considered as 'whores' or simply 'different'. It is then austere to question the sheer existence of feminism since it emerged within the restrains of patriarchy. For some, what we wear or whom we show appreciation to, even if it is out of the goodness of human kindness, we have opened an invitation as we've 'asked for it'...obviously, the sole purpose was to attract a perpetrator.
Psychologists like Edna Foa have tried explaining the changes in our temperament and mood for decades. Of course we might come across a little impolite and ignorant towards men at certain times during the day. According to statistics released by the Ministry of Justice and Home Office, over 485,000 sexual assaults (including rape) occur in a year, that translates 40,416 in a month, 1,347 each day, 56 per hour or approximately 1 every minute. It is unfortunate that we live in a society where certain groups feel marginalised and are compelled to hold a phobia which hinders them from living an ordinary life. In 'The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls', Emilie Autumn holds no secret, "I suddenly realised that the safest place to walk was the middle of the street because the odds are in my favour. Someone is killed in a car accident on average every 12.5 minutes, whilst someone is raped on average every 2.5 minutes. Thus, this is now the way I live my life, because the middle of the street is actually the safest place to walk."
Indeed, it is deplorable that the stereotypical chain of events that lead to sexual assaults are often similar in nature. A female person is walking alone, down an alley, by herself, in a short skirt at night. However, the reality shows otherwise, that often the circumstances surrounding the case are much more complicated: more frequent than not, attackers are usually close to the victim. In some instances rape does not necessarily take place at night and often victims are not allegedly 'attractive' young females in 'provocative' garments. Statistics show that older women in their late 80s and occasionally children as young as 5 are victims of sexual assault. Surely, the elderly and toddlers have not worn provocative clothing?
So, are we 'asking for it'? Yes, absolutely! We are all asking for something. We are asking for our rights and liberties to be protected and valued. It is the responsibility of our society to catalyse a change of mentalities and a culture of passivity in order to deal with the real concern without holding innocent individuals accountable.