A culture of woman-blaming persists.
The changes that need to take place are not in our fitting rooms but in the mindsets of those who continue to hold prejudicial attitudes and cling to the notion that women should abide by some “appropriate” code of behaviour – or be held responsible for “the consequences”. How many times have you heard references to women “putting themselves at risk”, “sending the wrong message”, or “asking for it”?
A Canadian study* was conducted this year in Alberta that surveyed 1,000 males, 18 years of age or older, on their perceptions and attitudes towards violence against women. Among other findings, the study revealed that 40% of men thought that if a woman wears provocative clothing, she’s putting herself at risk for rape.
Unfortunately, these attitudes and perceptions run deep and resonate across the globe. Research conducted by Rape Crisis Scotland in advance of ‘This is not an invitation to rape me’, a national campaign to challenge woman-blaming attitudes, found that 20% of people believed that women contribute to rape by wearing revealing clothing, and an enormous 40% subscribed to the view that women could be considered culpable to some degree if they “put themselves in risky situations”. These findings support and reinforce earlier studies such as the 2005 Amnesty research which had already illustrated the extent to which women are blamed for sexual violence.
These perceptions and attitudes hinder every woman and each aspect of women’s lives. If we live in a world that believes we need to dress in a certain way or else we cause sexual assault, where is our freedom? Where is our justice?
Together, we need to change perceptions and attitudes and shift society to focus on the actions of the perpetrators and not on the fashion choices of women. Be part of the solution – change perceptions and attitudes, shift society.
*ACWS Study; Men’s Attitudes and Behaviours Toward Violence Against Women. March 12, 2012