By: Hannah Graham
In my first relationship, I told my then boyfriend that my sister said my shirt was showing too much of my stomach, even though it was only a small amount. Through that, we somehow got on the topic of clothing and how it affects women. I specifically remember him telling me that if a girl is wearing revealing clothes, she should expect men to look at her and even make comments. This kind of took me aback because I had no idea that that was his way of thinking. Then I realized it was a lot of guys' way of thinking.
Society has shaped the minds of men to believe that what a girl is wearing determines what they want from them and the minds of girls to believe that whether a man respects them or doesn’t is their own fault. Rape culture is not just rape, it’s everything leading up to it. Men have been taught that they are owed something by women based on how they dress or act. This ideology tends to start with the school dress code. It is much harsher on girls than it is on guys.
I remember one instance where my sister was sent to the office for having holes in her jeans above her knees, but they were patched holes. We have to miss class to change clothes into more “appropriate attire” which harms our learning experience all because they don’t want us to harm others learning. We are made to be responsible for the eyes and attention span of others. Everyone needs to be taught to focus despite any “distractions” instead of being allowed to blame others just because of their clothing.
There are many instances where in a rape case, the victim is asked what they were wearing that night. As if a shirt is consent. In one case, a woman’s underwear was held up as “evidence”. I think it is obvious that her underwear was not visible until the man decided he was going to rape her. I have been taught, along with the majority of other women, to be super careful in everyday life. You have to check under your car, check the backseat, leave a parking lot immediately, never pull over for a suspicious cop car or call 911 to ask if it is a real officer, never walk alone at night, don’t leave your drink alone at a party, carry keys in between your fingers and pepper spray in your bag as a weapon, and so many other precautions to keep us safe. Instead of preaching to boys to respect women, we are taught to be careful around them.
Victim blaming is a huge problem.
Recently there was a trend on TikTok, a popular video app for teens, where boys asked whether false rape accusations should result in jail time. What they failed to understand is that it is already a criminal offense but less than 2% of all rape allegations are false. These boys are trying to turn the focus off of the largest problem which is that 60% of rapes are not reported and only 6% of rapists are put in jail for usually a short amount of time. Most victims are too scared to come forward with their story due to men like them who will not believe them. While false accusations have happened, it is a very small amount and does not need as much attention since they are already punishable. If you ask any girl, they can tell you at least one time where they have been uncomfortable in a man’s presence whether because of what they have said or what they have done. It is so common and it shouldn’t be. We need to start denormalizing preaching to women on what they need to do to prevent rape, and start normalizing teaching men to have self control. We are not responsible for the actions of other people and it should not be taught to us that it is.