Police Tell Brooklyn Women Not To Wear Skirts If They Don’t Want To Be Raped

In the wake of 10 unsolved sexual assaults, South Park Slope, Brooklyn women are being harassed by cops — told that if they want to avoid being raped, they shouldn’t wear skirts. According to today’s Wall Street Journal article: “In a neighborhood with a reputation for liberal and feminist tendencies, the message is, as to be expected, not going over so well.”

Here’s what the Journal says, in its article titled “A Thin Line on Skirts“:

Lauren, a South Slope resident, was walking home three blocks from the gym on Monday when she was stopped.

The 25-year-old, who did not want her last name to be used, was wearing shorts and a T-shirt when she claims a police officer asked if she would stop and talk to him. He also stopped two other women wearing dresses.

According to Lauren, the officer asked if they knew what was going on in the neighborhood. When they answered in the affirmative, he asked if they knew what the guy was looking for.

“He pointed at my outfit and said, ‘Don’t you think your shorts are a little short?'” she recalled. “He pointed at their dresses and said they were showing a lot of skin.”

He said that such clothing could make the suspect think he had “easy access,” said Lauren.

She said the officer explained that “you’re exactly the kind of girl this guy is targeting.”

Asked whether officers were warning women against wearing shorts or skirts, the New York City Police Department responded in no time.

“Officers are not telling women what not to wear—there’s a TV series that does that,” quipped Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne in an email. “They are simply pointing out that as part of the pattern involving one or more men that the assailant(s) have targeted women wearing skirts.”


Personally, I think it should go without saying that this kind of asshattery has no place in policing. The “thin line” to which the WSJ refers is the line between cops advocating safety and dictating dress. But the “thin line” as I see it is the line between telling women that if they behave a certain way they are in danger of being sexually assaulted, and telling women that if they are sexually assaulted, they are to blame. But that’s not a line between appropriate and inappropriate; they’re both incredibly inappropriate for anyone…let alone cops, who should have enough training to know better.

But “Lauren,” quoted in the above article, observes a divergence between the way women see this “helpful” “advice” and the way men see it:

Lauren said she’s been surprised by the male responses to the incident—including from her own father. She said the consensus among men is that while it was inappropriate for the officer to broach such a topic, they all think he has a point.

“I completely disagree,” she said. “Where do you draw the line? I can’t wear shorts? Besides the fact that I wasn’t wearing anything that was inappropriate or provocative….I don’t think that should be part of the problem. At all.”

Lauren said she thanked the officer for patrolling the area but said she would prefer that he focus on apprehending the suspects, rather than the dressing choices of women.


Do I even have to say it? I’m with Lauren. Attributing the actions of a criminal or criminals to the way women dress is rankly offensive both on feminist grounds and as a common-sense approach to neighborhood policing. Spreading misogynistic shame is not the answer. But it’s suspiciously prevalent in cases like this because it conveniently allows the re-assertion of male privilege by men who are then allowed to believe they are “well-meaning.”

But in my view there’s nothing “well-meaning” about it. It implies a deep distrust and even contempt for female experience and, need I say it again, a reassertion of male privilege, as if by observing something patently untrue about sexual violence (“Wearing a skirt may get you raped”) a man — and/or a cop — is explaining something in the “male realm” to women whose silly little heads must be filled with helium to wear such a thing. How exactly is that “well-meaning?”

Unfortunately, on the NBC News article about this topic, the comments are — at least, as I write this — solely concerned with how the “liberals” in Park Slope “deserve what they get” for NYC’s and NY State’s relatively strict gun laws. In this, male commenters get to disavow any hint of compassion or social consciousness by showing their intimate knowledge of other men’s genitalia — whoops, I’m sorry, did I say “other men’s genitalia”? I think I meant “firearms.” It’s so hard for me to keep those things straight.

Keep in mind that this is NBC New York — a page for New York and environs. And here are the choice drive-by’s from the the top of the comment thread — “helpful” blasts of “friendly advice” from the NBC-reading Mansplainerati:

From a Texan:

They shouldn’t be telling women not to wear skirts, they should be telling women to carry a concealed handgun, and if their law still stupidly prohibits it, then get the law changed so people can protect themselves. Common sense.

Another Texan:

“The message should be that, ‘Here are ways that you can protect yourself.'”….How, by not wearing what you want? No, the message should be, if you lived in Texas, these two would be laying dying on the ground with a woman standing over them in a skirt and a smoking pistol.


From an undisclosed state:


You libs keep believing that the police will protect you. They are there to administer the rape kits, and zip you up in the bag if necessary, not chase the bad guys away….God didn’t make men and women equal… Smith & Wesson did.

…to which Cal, from right down the road from me in Woodland, California (Hi, Cal!) showed his feminist cred and pipes in with a bizarrely cryptic comment:

Colt with at least one 4 in the caliber.

(Cal’s meaning is clear, but how many gun-crowd in jokes do we really need? What’s next, “Mess with the best, die like the rest?”) Then another commenter with state unmentioned says:

When the idiots in NY keep electing these gun grabbing liberals so only the bad guys have guns then they deserve everything they get.

And another:

What the women should be wearing is a sidearm.

And another:

Maybe if they were able to wear a 38 or a 45 this would not be happening.

But wait! There’s more!

That would be a “SIZE” 44 magnum in snub nose, preferably smoking from which the bloody boogers from the muggers woudl be getting wiped.

— at which point the comment thread devolves into an argument over whether women, who tend to have smaller hands than men, should be given a .44 magnum, which is difficult for smaller hands and shooters with less upper body muscle mass to control or if a .38 or .25 would be more — I’m sorry, is anyone else feeling like they just stumbled into a Quentin Tarantino movie? Immediately after the .44 magnum discussion, the racist commentary about hijabs and headscarves starts.

Mind you, I did not do much cherry-picking of these comments. There are slightly less insane (and violence-obsessed) comments further down, but I omitted very few at the top of the comment thread when I visited…the A-Team fanaticism occurs in an avalanche. I’m not debating gun policy here — and I’m not in any way an opponent of responsible private gun ownership, by people of any gender. But none of that is what this is about. It’s about rape, remember? It’s about women having their behavior dictated by men trying to spread “caution,” when what they’re really spreading is fear, and a socially enforced lack of agency. The enforcers are male authority figures — not just cops, but any man who feels privileged to explain to a woman why her behavior is responsible for the rape that’s about to occur…maybe.  How creepy is that?

The point is that sexual assaults on at least 10 women in Park Slope, Brooklyn, should not be an opportunity for men in Texas, California or wherever to show off the size of their Magnums. The blatant and unapologetic psychosexual weirdness of online gun fanatics is borderline masturbatory at the best of times. Here, in a story about women’s safety on the street, in response to 10 actual sexual assaults, the commenters quite frankly hauled out their peckers and started peeing all over each other…not to put too fine a point on it. Does anyone else see the co-opting of female experience in this trend? Does anyone else see a strange inability to see anything other than an excuse to talk as loud as possible…maybe to shut down a discussion that makes the male commenters uncomfortable? I mean…what could be more “comfortable” for a guy from Texas than telling women in New York to STFU, stop whining and buy a gun, and then she won’t have to get raped?

In other words…”Honey, if you would just act more like a man…wear pants…carry a gun…then you wouldn’t be a victim.”

Is that, um, “helpful”? Is that “well-meaning”? Is it less well meaning or more well meaning than telling a woman if she wears shorts she’ll be raped?

It’s patently offensive for a man to respond to a discussion about rape by lecturing women on any aspect of their behavior — wearing skirts, carrying firearms, or walking home from the gym. The behavior in question is the behavior of the rapist, and a rapist is a criminal.

The fear of sexual crime is a concrete weapon used to beat women down — and specifically to beat down women’s sexuality. In Park Slope, organizations like Safe Slope and the Brooklyn Bike Patrol have cropped up to escort women in the affected neighborhood — recognizing that the best tool against all crime, but particularly crime that targets women, is a strong and supportive community.

But the most important message is the same one that swept the country in the wake of offensive comments by another police officer on the other side of the country.

In her August, 2011 article for Acceler8or.com about Slutwalk, Violet said it well enough to bear repeating:

Some people will bristle when I say SlutWalk represents a significant tipping point in cultural evolution. Yes: I think scantily clad girls marching in the streets around the world are agents of change for our species. Maybe that’s why its critics are panicking and handwringing as if Invaders From Mars have come out of a time machine from the future in heels and hose, reminding everyone that their face is up here.

(…) It’s a mindfuck to wade into that mess, meaning the whole “asking for it” ideology. Being a target is being female, no matter what we wear. And slut-shaming, a relatively new name for an old concept, is the acceptable way of shaming a woman for exploring, owning and expressing her sexuality in whatever way she sees best, most enjoyable, or even most empowering.


I would only add that wearing workout shorts while walking home from the gym is about as far from being slutty as can be. The events in Park Slope only underscore the fact that women are judged for being “slutty” when they’re not being slutty at all. They’re being women. And for some people, that’s just un-fucking-acceptable from the get-go.

The message? “If you weren’t a woman, you wouldn’t be a target. Your problem, not mine.”

Providing prejudicial and misogynistic “cautions” to women on how to avoid sexual assault is nothing more than a way to keep “uppity” women down — “uppity,” as in “independent,” “fearless,” “willing to walk alone,” even “willing to walk with other women, rather than a man.” There are lots of people out there who don’t like women walking alone or together. And others who don’t mind women walking alone…but think they should be obligated to act like men in order to do it safely.

That’s misogyny, pure and simple, and it has no place in a reasonable society.

Photo from Slutwalk San Francisco by Jenna Pinkham (Flickr user Yakotta).

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  1. Thomas, I’ve already criticized the police officer in that story for his manner in lecturing the women on the street. It’s patronizing, and the subtext of his delivery reeks of “little lady” and “dear.” But you cannot go from his dull-witted understanding and handling of the issue to your argument, and argument that boils down to accusing the police, in so many words, of claiming that women get raped because they dress like tramps. Is that not what you meant? Well, then I think you should have written your article differently, because that sentiment is what came across pretty clearly.

    Feminism, like a lot of “isms,” has much to contribute to social thought, when used critically. The problem is that some people use it uncritically and indiscriminately. It’s not feminist thought, per se, that I’m rolling my eyes at with my “blah, blah, blah.” To be blunt, that was directed at your application of it.

    And, lastly, as to cordiality, you set the tone when you in your article use words like “asshat.” I know, I know — you were trying to be edgy. Have the last word if you wish. This is your forum. I’m done.

  2. @Mario — As I said, we can disagree cordially on this. I believe the body of feminist thought generally supports my assertions above, and “because of the patriarchy, blah blah blah?” doesn’t really convince me otherwise. If you think feminist thought does NOT support my assertions, then we can disagree cordially. If you believe feminist thought is valueless, or that criticism of the patriarchy amounts to “blah, blah,” then why are we having this discussion?

    We will then disagree with markedly less cordiality from my end, but that doesn’t change the fact that we disagree.

  3. Thomas, thank you — I must have misplaced my Fowler’s. In any case, I’m sorry but your premise if flawed from the beginning, and this is suggested even in the quote you included from the Deputy Commissioner:

    “Officers are not telling women what not to wear […] They are simply pointing out that as part of the pattern involving one or more men that the assailant(s) have targeted women wearing skirts.”

    Is the pattern the police are claiming to identify not an accurate representation of the perpetrator’s M.O.? Are they mistaken? Are they jumping to conclusions — you know, because of the patriarchy, blah, blah, blah? The beat cop quoted in the article lacks finesse, and quite possibly good sense. But, either it’s smart for women in the area to avoid certain behaviors thought to increase their chances of being a target or it isn’t. I’m assuming it is. But what I’m getting from your piece is that it’s a no-no if we’re talking about dress. Why? No one is saying that these women are “looking to get raped” because of what they’ve got on anymore than anyone is looking to get raped because they are unwisely traveling alone at night. Your piece is completely reactionary.

  4. Mario — I believe you meant “refute,” rebut merely meaning in this context “to oppose.” (It can also mean “to refute through argument,” but I believe you meant to use “refute” itself.) In which case, that’s your interpretation, not mine. Patting yourself on the back does not make you right, and it does not make someone else agree with you. If we disagree, no problem; we can do so cordially, but your disagreement with me does not make you right and me wrong. If you make an argument and I make a counter-argument, and you still agree with yourself…that’s not a failure of refutation, necessarily. It just means we differ.

    What it boils down to is that you do not believe my imperative here is important. I disagree. Let’s do that cordially, but please don’t pat yourself on the back for having “won” a debate. That’s trollery.

    If you meant rebut, then in fact you’re mistaken; yes, you’ve been rebutted.

  5. I find it interesting that so many of the male commentators are arguing against the premise of this post while the women who are commenting are thanking the poster, and rebutting the ideas put for by the male commentators. Who knows better about the dangers of female rape? Women who have to be aware of the possibility, or men who just want to tell women how to handle it so they can shut them up and stop bothering them about it?

  6. @Ph — re your comment:

    >”being a native Texan I take offense at your comments about men telling women what to do. Yes there are >jerks in society who love to push their own agenda but when we see a problem with an obvious and highly >effective solution men like to solve it and move on.”

    I assume you thought you were addressing a woman? My name, “Thomas” is clearly indicated on the byline, but your comment seems directed at a female writer. Also, I did not in any way berate Texans. As a rule I try to avoid insulting an entire state’s worth of people, which is rightly called “prejudice.” YOU are the one who did that, and I believe you heard what you wanted to hear. My observation was directed at the fact that Texan commenters had specifically insulted ‘libs’ in NY for NY’s gun laws. Their directly insulting, offensive and de facto “pro-rape” sentiments (“they deserve what they get”) were regionally-based. . Those specific commenters are the people I have a beef with, not Texans overall. THEY brought up Texas. I didn’t. Take offense if you don’t like me…not because you think I badmouthed Texas.

    Anyway, if you’d like to school me in “how men are,” you should probably know you’re talking to a man. If “men” “like to solve [the problem] and move on,” then does that mean the world is a mess because women stop us from doing so? Would that it were that simple.

    Also, “obvious and highly effective” is pushing it when it comes to CCW. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of responsible gun ownership, and I’m not anti-CCW. I would be happier if ALL states were “Shall Issue” states, so crucify someone else for being anti-gun. But if all states became Shall Issue CCW states — or even Open Carry states, that wouldn’t solve every problem, and it wouldn’t stop all rape.

    Your claim that carrying (or did you mean “not wearing skirts?”) is the “obvious and highly effective” solution from which “men” can “move on,” speaks not to any “obviousness” or “effectiveness” of CCW for all women in preventing all rape, but to a distaste for hearing women’s concerns. That’s misogyny…sorry. And as a man, I’ll have no part of it.

  7. @Billy Bob

    Re: “In NYC a woman is allowed to go topless. This means that legally she has the right to wear nothing but a pair of thing panties in public. However, I think that wold be a dangerous thing to do at night while walking alone. ”

    Would it, though? To my view, it would be so unusual to see a topless woman, especially alone and at night, that most people would think “Something isn’t right here” and would stop to ask if she needed help.

    The danger, then, comes more from ignoring signs that something is wrong when most other aspects of a situation are within the bounds of normalcy. For example: watching a man watch and follow a woman down an alley. Yeah, he *could* just happen to be going in the same direction – but something might be wrong there.

    And we can be mad at the NYC police for more than one thing at the same time. It’s not like there’s a limited amount of outrage in the world or something.

  8. i think that some are missing the main point that Violet and others are making about certain aspects of the article. To quote:

    “He pointed at my outfit and said, ‘Don’t you think your shorts are a little short?’” she recalled. “He pointed at their dresses and said they were showing a lot of skin.”

    He said that such clothing could make the suspect think he had “easy access,” said Lauren.

    She said the officer explained that “you’re exactly the kind of girl this guy is targeting.”

    The police officer’s comments are directed towards her appearance and behavior (not to mention referring to her as a “girl” and not as a “woman”). On one level, this makes the assumption that the rapist(s) is walking around as a normal functioning member of society – not raping anyone, not committing any crimes at all – when he suddenly encounters a woman dressing and acting in a manner that either REQUIRES him to rape her and/or that she DESERVES to have somebody/anybody rape her. This mindset takes the approach that her appearance and/or behavior is the CAUSE of a man unable to prevent himself from raping her. If you were to balance on a scale “shapely skirt and huge cleavage” against “man wants to sexual attack a woman” – are you trying to say that exposing legs and cleavage is “more wrong” than the male’s desire for sexual violence? Do we really have to explain in detail/bulletpoints as to why this is so wrong?

    Also it is disappointing that so many of the comments here (and seemingly on the site of the original article) are focusing on the woman/women instead of focusing in catching the rapist(s) and/or discussing how to deal with and/or “treat” men so that they understand that rape is wrong. This is disappointing because once again the focus is in the wrong place – the woman. This is not a Muslim country in which a huge portion of the citizens approve of this type of violence, nor is this the wild west or caveman days where issues are settled by the fastest gun or the biggest stick. Our society has deemed that rape is wrong, basically because we have decided that we are a civilized society in which we are able to control our sexual urges to the degree that it is wrong to physically attack someone because of our sexual urges. To claim that a well toned leg poking out from under a skirt is more powerful that the male willpower to control himself is absurd. And, for males to not accept this about other males is a copout – be a man and step up and say that rape is wrong regardless of what the woman is wearing or doing.

    Lastly, another disappointing aspect of the discussions about this issue is the gender stereotyping. What if the rapist(s) was attacking and sodomizing males? Would we and the police go around and tell men to not wear shorts or open collar shirts? Tell men to not walk around alone or at night? Should we make this scenario even sillier by making the rapist a female with a strap-on?!?!?! If you were a man in this scenario would you want society focusing on you and your behavior instead of focusing on catching the rapist(s)? Whether or not you have faith in the police being able to do their job and catch criminals, the fact it that it IS their job to catch criminals. Certainly teaching awareness is a nice minor aspect of their job, but, as a generic citizen i prefer that they spend most of their resources focusing on criminals and not on innocent people. And as generic citizens, i prefer that we spend our resources focusing on criminals and not on innocent people. Goodlooking and scantily-clad women do not cause rape – men who are criminals cause rape.

  9. We need to be clear on the distinction between saying “this might make you a target, so I suggest you don’t do it for your own safety” versus “you asked for it so it’s not a crime to attack you”.

    In NYC a woman is allowed to go topless. This means that legally she has the right to wear nothing but a pair of thing panties in public. However, I think that wold be a dangerous thing to do at night while walking alone. Nevertheless if a woman chose to do that and was raped, it’s still rape and still a crime.

    Of course, the fact that a woman may feel unsafe to exercise her right to walk about in just panties means that her freedoms are being infringed upon. But that infringement is by the would-be criminals, not by a police officer who makes a well-meaning *suggestion*.

    Anyhow, if you want to be mad about NYC police, get mad at the assholes (a minority of NYC police) that think it’s ok to pepper-spray women who are protesting peacefully.

  10. There was a rape case some years back where the judge ruled the victim was “asking for it” because her jeans were too tight.

    If I may, just how many years back did a judge make this ruling?

    There was a rape case some years back where the judge ruled the victim was “asking for it” because her jeans were too tight.

    The best way to fight rapists, or any such sexual deviancy, is to build community (Safety in numbers!), build strong sex education programs, and fight to end the sexual repression that runs rampant in America. We are bombarded with sexual imagery, then damned for being sexual. Basically, women and men are getting the message, “You must be sexy but you mustn’t have sex.” No wonder we’re confused! No wonder we don’t know who to blame.

    We are human. Denying our sexual urges is defying nature, and tends to manifest in unhealthy behavior. (Sexual misconduct being one type) So educate yourself and support sex education in schools. Knowledge is the best weapon society has against such repression.

  12. being a native Texan I take offense at your comments about men telling women what to do. Yes there are jerks in society who love to push their own agenda but when we see a problem with an obvious and highly effective solution men like to solve it and move on. The truth is there are vicious animal roaming the countryside and it is everyones duty to remove them for the public good. We can’t change them and we can’t reason with them anymore than you can reason with a wolf or a mountain lion. Protesting and wearing clothing won’t help because this is not a social issue. Its a fiendishly violent issue that must be met with lawful violence.

  13. Great article and unfortunately nothing really new… Yes the officer should have suggested self defense classes, leaving the known areas of attack in a group, and what carrying mace… If he had suggested specifics, “the rapist is attacking young blonde woman who all happen to be wearing blue sweaters” then possibly that could be helpful… Not wearing a blue sweater until the creep gets picked up is fine, but unfortunately it all comes back to the “slutty” look. I know that from a man’s view it might be easy to see that wearing a dress or a skirt makes a woman easy prey, but rapist tend to be looking for a specific look… And only getting inside their warpped brain can you really know who they see as an easy target…

    The best thing for woman to do is be aware, walk with a friend if it’s late and in the target area, and I think pepper spray on the key chain is a excellent idea… Sad story, but unfortunately, not new…

  14. While the officer’s wording could have been a lot better (and we’ve no real idea of his tone), it does sound like he was giving warnings to people that they were wearing clothes that matched the victim profile they’d put together for these attackers.

    Anyone, male or female, should have the right to wear whatever they want but advice that you may be in danger is useful information.

    A friend was once stopped in central London and told by a policeman that there were pickpockets operating in the area and that should stop keeping his wallet in his back pocket as it made him an easy target.

  15. Mr. Roche-

    I was in the military and traveled overseas quite extensively. (EU, and SA primarily.) In South America in particular kidnapping targeting Americans is rampant. While in Colombia we were instructed to be exceptionally vigilant in regards to our own personal security while on shore leave, owing mostly due to the FARC. (The drug cartel/guerrilla/terrorist organization who’s semi-submersible drug craft we were primarily targeting on our deployment.) The FARC has also been known to put out bounties on the heads of policemen, and as American Sailors we could be highly prized targets.

    We were specifically instructed to not wear our uniforms. We also had to have a sober and responsible liberty group shipmate with every group that went on shore. (They were breathalyzed upon return to the ship to “encourage” compliance.)

    I’m not sure if you have ever been a scenario where you could possibly be the target of violence for something you have zero control over, (Race, Gender, Country of Origin, etc…) but it is quite an unsettling feeling.

    Actively practicing risk reduction behaviors in an attempt to minimize the risk of being targeted by a hostile element is something that is practiced in the military, in countries all over the world.

    Is wearing pants an effective risk management strategy for young women from a potential rapist? I’m not sure. I don’t know of any studies that have been done, or how such a study could be ethically conducted. (Just like I’m not sure how effective not wearing our uniforms was at disguising the fact that we were American. Probably not very.)

    However, in the case of many pathological criminals, they do have fetishistic victim profiles. (IE: They only victimize people with green eyes, and not blue eyes.) If I knew that the FARC only targeted Sailors in uniform I definitely wouldn’t wear my uniform. If there is a pattern of this rapist only targeting women wearing skirts, I’d probably advise my daughter to not wear skirts until he is caught.

    I would never blame someone who has been the victim of violence because they somehow “brought the violence on themselves.” I have however taken a pragmatic approach to my own personal security in potentially hostile environments, and would advise others in similar circumstances to do the same.

    There are individuals who actively seek to harm others. Until we can eliminate the threat it does seem prudent to take precautions against being a target and being vulnerable. It is unfortunate that this is the case, however it is necessary to acknowledge the unpleasant reality of the situation in order to effectively deal with it.


  16. Billy Bob and Mario seem to think I’ve advocated women doing nothing, communities doing nothing, and everybody sitting around bellyaching and pointing fingers at the police when the next woman gets raped.

    I can’t imagine a more absurd surmise from my article above.

    Mario, “have your cell phone ready” and “be aware of your environment” are not gender-specific suggestions. They do not have historical misogynistic overtones. They are not equivalent to demanding that women change their dress or prepare to get raped.

    Drawing the conclusion that I have objected to women traveling in pairs when possible is your own reducto ad absurdum, and has nothing to do with what I have written above.

  17. This is Thomas, who wrote the above article, as indicated on the byline.

    @Elf — I’m absolutely with you; learning self-defense is advisable for everyone who has that ability. In the above, I’m not suggesting it’s not, but blaming those who don’t is not the answer either, nor is police shifting from “don’t wear short skirts or you’re asking for it” to “learn self defense or you’re asking for it.” That’s equally wrong, not to mention ableist. Not everybody has the capacity to defend themselves.

    The advocacy of community self-policing and the availability of self-defense information is a cornerstone of the feminist movement and an important aspect of queer activist work in the ’90s, and I believe it’s it’s a good model for community safety programs in all urban environments. That’s why there was Street Patrol in San Francisco, that’s why there’s Slutwalk, Take Back the Night, and many more (though certainly not as many as there could be). I’m totally with you there.

  18. On the other hand, it’s as misogynist to tell women that “carrying a gun is acting like a man” as it is misandrist to question men who wear skirts.

    Human beings are targets for some kind of crime, somewhere. It’s sad and sick that women bear the brunt of it. I don’t think every woman should, or even could, carry a weapon. But learning self-defense is not a bad thing in and of itself, and self-defense is not, and ought not to be, a male prerogative.

  19. I have to agree with Billy Bob, because Ms. Blue has written:

    “[T]he ‘thin line’ as I see it is the line between telling women that if they behave a certain way they are in danger of being sexually assaulted, and telling women that if they are sexually assaulted, they are to blame. But that’s not a line between appropriate and inappropriate; they’re both incredibly inappropriate […]”

    While I realize that commenting on a woman’s dress is fraught with misogynistic overtones, and that, going by the conversation as reported by the woman in the article, the officer was not handling the advice delicately, the fact is that traveling in groups rather than alone, restricting your travel to daylight hours rather than walking the neighborhood at night, and carrying a cell phone at the ready to place a call rather than simply relaxing and enjoying the scenery and fresh air are all good advice — even though it’s recommending that women “behave a certain way” to protect themselves against this criminal. Is that so wrong?

  20. Well, if I owned a really expensive watch then I have the right to wear it wherever I want. But wearing into a area known for muggings would be a bad idea. Same with a nice car, I have the right to park it where I want, but parking it in an area where several other cars have been stolen is a bad idea. Finally, a woman has the right to dress how she likes (even topless in new york), but if some rapist is hunting women then it might make sense to avoid making yourself a target. (Assuming he’s targeting a certain type of dress.) It’s the *rapist* who is infringing on the women’s freedoms to dress how they like. And if he gets caught they will toss his ass in jail.

    So mugging is the fault of the mugger, not the person with nice jewelry. Auto theft is the fault of the thief, not the guy who bought a nice car. And rape is the fault of the rapist, not the woman no mater what she wears or if she choses to walk alone. So let’s hope the rapist gets caught, and in the mean time do what we can to be safe. If we feel that the actions to be safe quash our freedoms, let’s also remember who’s fault that is.

  21. What I’m seeing is men trying to put themselves into the shoes of a rapist in a thought process going something like “If I were a rapist, what characteristics would I be looking for in a victim?” That they were apparently so far off-base illustrates how poorly even the police understand the motivations of the perpetrators in choosing their victims. With little data to support the idea, mode of dress probably has little to do with the likelihood of becoming a rape/sexual assault victim. It would seem more likely that the determining factors would be the victim’s accessibility/vulnerability weighed against the perpetrator’s perceived chances of being caught. I’ll hedge that a bit by adding the qualification that this would be in cases of stranger-rape. Acquaintance rape would seem to me to be a different set of motivations. I am not a criminologist (I don’t even play one on TV), so take it for what it’s worth.

  22. Telling people to travel together is a good idea, avoiding empty places, carrying a cell phone, these are all good ideas. Telling people to cover up because a flash of skin makes them vulnerable, that’s just silly. Men will think sexual thoughts about women no Matter how much clothing they’re wearing, in some cases Because they’re wearing so much clothing “I wonder what she’s hiding under there??”

    It’s not necesarrily the Reality of what a woman is or looks like, it can simply be the Idea of the feminine that triggers arousal in a man.

    Seriously, if we want fewer rapists, we should have more adult stores and better porn, to help blunt the edge of the desire for people who don’t have or an unable to find a partner. For those people who are driven to assault women for other mental reasons, well, I don’t know, I only have experience in approaching women because I want to share screaming passion with them.

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