It’s Friday night. The past week of classes have been hell and you’re ready for a fun, carefree night out. You grab that brand new crop top with the lace back from Forever 21, slip on your favorite pair of skinny jeans that make your butt look great, and slide into those classic black pumps. Your friends give you the pep talk, “whew girl, you lookin’ hot,” “the boys gonna be crawlin’ when they see you walk in,” etc. You feel confident.
At the party, you have a few drinks and meet a great guy. You dance together, talk, and do the usual flirty, “let’s get to know each other” routine. However, the night ends in a dark place when this “nice guy” takes it too far. He tries to take you upstairs, and what starts off as foreplay quickly turns aggressive. He ends up forcing himself on you, but you manage to get away before it escalates anymore. You’ve just been sexually assaulted.
You’re hurt and confused. You speak out, but you’re shut down with harsh judgments: “Look at what you were wearing,” “Going out in that outfit, you were practically asking for it,” “You were inviting him into make a move,” or “You can’t give mixed signals like that.”
All too often is blaming the victim the case. Encouragements at the beginning of the night turn into criticisms of apathy the next morning. The victim takes responsibility for being assaulted, but is confused. She thought she looked great? Isn’t that what she wanted? But she didn’t think that meant being assaulted.
We say stay in pairs, watch our drinks, don’t go with a guy alone anywhere, and of course have that handy rape whistle. However, girls are still getting sexually assaulted and raped. There has to be another reason as to why guys at parties see girls as objects they can manhandle however they want. If guys are looking at us, then the next logical step is to look at the outward appearance of us girls, specifically our clothing.
The media and fashion industry tells girls what they should wear to parties, screaming “LESS IS MORE,” go ahead and wear that cut out dress with mesh and make sure it’s just short enough cover your hooh-hah, call yourself a yoga hoe or an office hoe or just plain hoe for a theme party. These are not the labels us girls want the opposite sex to view us as.
It seems for “night out on the town” clothing, fashion has told us it’s less and less like actual clothing and more like lingerie, which tells guys that we want to have sex. I mean lingerie is supposed to be used as type of foreplay. Maybe you do want to have sex and that’s why you’re wearing it, but it should be a choice made between two people, not something forced on you because of a piece of fabric you put on.
If it’s our bodies that are the main issue, then why don’t we question what we’re told to put on them? We’re being told that our bodies are to be used to attract men and more importantly, men are being told that women are objects, so won’t guys deem it acceptable to treat us as such?
Us girls, especially at this age, look at life with eyes wide open. We want to be loved and accepted. And if someone is telling us wear this, do and say this and you will be noticed and accepted, we’re going to do it. If a party is themed and tells you to look like a hoe or slut or whatever other degrading name they want to call you, you’re going to do it because it’s the theme and if you don’t participate, people are going to think you’re some type of outcast.
When it comes down to it, it’s not our fault. It’s not like we wake up thinking I want to dress like a slut or a whore. We don’t think “hey I’m going to wear this body-con dress so a guy tries to have sex with me against my will.” We may put on these clothes, but only because we are told that this is fashion, this is what will get us noticed, this is what tells others we are acceptable and trendy. We are told this through media and the fashion industry.
At the end of the day, people have the ultimate choice of what they put on their bodies, and in no way should people who commit these crimes of rape or sexual assault be excused. They should be punished and questioned as to why they think it is acceptable to shrink women down to vessels for their own sexual enjoyment. But maybe a part of the answer to this question is the influence of the media and fashion on all people with their ads exploiting women’s bodies and saying, “if a woman is wearing this, she wants to have sex with you.” Men with deep issues, the men who attack innocent girls, are taking these messages literally and might be thinking what they are doing is acceptable. It is, however, never acceptable.
This may not be the end all-cure all, as a matter of fact I’m sure it’s not. Women get assaulted and raped in broad daylight or just walking home with jeans and t-shirt. But maybe it’s a place to start a conversation between young people about sexual assault and rape in the party scene and where it might all stem from. Maybe it comes from the media and fashion industries telling us the way to party is to party with barely anything on. In all seriousness, I have a killer dance party in my kitchen with sweats and an oversized t-shirt on. Why can’t that be acceptable at parties?
So next time you’re going throw on those cut-off shorts that show the weird bottom butt cleavage and you get the catcalls or pervy looks, think who is telling me what to wear again? Do I want to conform to being valued by the media’s body standards or by something deeper?
We are not objects. We are women. We are strong human beings who think for ourselves. We are in control of what we wear even if it means not wearing the super trendy clothes. We just have to remember that we make the choice. The choice to recognize the ridiculousness of fashion trends telling us to exploit our bodies, and say, in the words of Fat Amy, “eh, bettah not.”
Featured image via flickr