Women are not to blame
Letter to the Editor
This is in response to Gabriel Martinez's column yesterday. I should say up front that I am one of the people Martinez calls "damaged goods."
I do not dress provocatively. I do not wear low-cut shirts, high-cut skirts, fishnet stockings or anything skin-tight. I dress like a completely comfortable 21-year-old.
I do not go to debaucherous room parties. I do not drink. I do not smoke. I admit I do swear sometimes. My friends are not sluttish. They are not easy. I am not easy. I would make a caring wife and a caring mother and I am a caring sister. I am a good person, despite being "damaged goods." Dozens have not "handled me," but more than one has.
It wasn't my idea. I was gang raped. I assure you it had nothing to do with the way I was dressed at the time. These "pigs" did not attack me because I "looked easy." I didn't send them any "signals," consciously or unconsciously. They attacked me because they felt like it, because they needed to feel strong and powerful and dominant.
Women do not send the kind of signals Martinez suggests; we act according to what we believe and what we feel and what we want to do. Men perceive they are receiving these signals because they want to think that they are desireable; they need to believe in these to inflate their egos and to justify their oppresive, macho behavior. Many men, both "good guys" and "pigs," believe that women were placed on this Earth for their pleasure and will not listen when anyone tells them differently.
Women cannot bring unwanted sexual attention on themselves, and they are not in charge of making sure that men respect their modesty and their limits. Men are responsible for their own renderings of women's dress, dancing styles and drinking habits.
The law supports this idea. Any rape victim can tell you that it is certainly not legal defense to say that the victim was wearing a miniskirt, so she was asking for it. It is equally ridiculous to suggest that men look at a woman dressed in a certain manner and decide she "looks easy" and therefore is just playing hard to get when she says no. In fact, it is exactly this attitude that causes women to receive unwanted advances. It is a woman's right to dress as she pleases and act as she pleases without harrassment from men. As a woman I was insulted by Martinez's assertion to the contrary.
As a rape victim, I sat down and cried that he would ever suggest a woman is to blame for any unwanted sexual attention.
As Martinez says, a woman's clothes can provoke a man's reaction. The problem, however, lies not in the clothes, but in the reaction.
December 2, 1999
All Viewpoint Stories for Friday, December 3, 1999