Art of Woman

Reclaim The Night 2012

Reclaim the Night is an annual event where women gather to demonstrate against sexual violence by men of women. Once a year women and their men supporters walk around the city streets declaring freedom of movement for women. Our streets should be safe enough for women (and men) to walk freely without being molested or raped. Rape is a crime regardless of what time of day it occurs or location or what clothing the woman is wearing.

Violent men have often tried to deflect responsibility for their actions by blaming their victims. There is still a lot of victim blame in society, where the focus is on the victim’s behaviour or clothing or even the time of day or location, rather than addressing the perpetrator’s criminal behaviour. A civil society does not blame victims for crime.

Rape and sexual violence are not a result of clothing. Around the world, there are many cultures that do not wear clothes, yet these cultures have very strict marriage laws, incest laws and rape laws. Some people holiday in the nude, but they do not expect to be sexually assaulted. It is like going shopping. The advertising banners and signs are bright, obvious and enticing. It is hard to navigate past the armfuls of merchandise that vie for our attention in tightly packed shopping malls and stores, some are so close they brush past us when we walk through. We may be hungry or in great need for something, yet if we take any piece of merchandise without paying, we will be charged with shoplifting. Enticing and seductive advertising is no defence for stealing! Likewise, rape and sexual violence is not about the type or amount of clothing a woman wears.

There were many types of clothing featured in the march. Some women wore long sleeves and long skirts, some had head covering, some wore very short shorts showing all their legs and some had low cut tops. These items of clothing show a fashion preference and have nothing to do with consent for sex. Some women wear provocative clothes in our society, but we do not condone sexual attacks on them. Think of Lady Gaga, Madonna or Kylie Minogue. These powerful, talented performers are not inviting assault. Neither is the teenager next door who wants to look fashionable.

I wonder if a study has been done of the cloths that were worn by victims of sexual assault. My prediction is that most victims wear ordinary cloths because most sexual assault is committed opportunistically. In many cases, the victim is not even dressed up, the victim is simply going about her usual activities. I searched the internet for such a study and found many studies that assessed people’s attitudes, such as the paper by Maurer & Robinson, 2008.

I found none that has actually checked police records to find out what the victims were actually wearing.

This quote from by a policeman was very revealing however:

Having been in police work for 40+ years, I can say that how a woman is dressed has little or nothing to do with sex crimes. It's about opportunity. Our local serial rapist, The "South Side" rapist, attacked some 30 women in their homes. He could not even see them before hand, he forced his way in through a window and raped the victims at knifepoint.

– M. Werner May 10 '11 at 15:01

I agree with the conclusion from a fact sheet from Rape Crisis Ireland:

Attitudes that blame victims of rape excuse perpetrators and reduce the likelihood of the prosecution of rapists. Such attitudes thus increase everyone’s vulnerability to rape.

(Download fact sheet)

Here are some interesting articles published by Utah State University:
Myths and facts about rape
Friends_family_of rape victims
For men only_male rape victims

Let’s all stop blaming the victim!

I love the banner that the demonstrators carried. It stated in hot shiny pink letters “There’s nothing sexier than consent”. I agree. Sexual love and joy should be promoted and spoken about openly in society so that all adults have their sexuality respected. There is no place for coercion or intimidation. Consent is a basic foundation of respect for our bodies.
Photo of Reclaim the night with banner reading 'There's nothing sexier than consent'

Julia Gillard states Tony Abbott's behaviour is misogynistic

Thousands of people around the world have seen the YouTube clip of Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s speech when she called the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott a misogynist.

This was an amazing speech full of passion. It was the culmination of months of harassment by Tony Abbott. Misogyny is defined in the dictionary as someone who hates women. Tony Abbott has tried to defend himself by saying that he loves women. He gives examples of the women he loves, his wife, his daughters and his sisters. These are all family relationships and have an element of power involved. Of course Tony Abbott loves his wife when she is supportive of him. Of course Tony Abbott loves his daughters while he can be the authoritative father. Often brother and sister relationships are not equal in power.

What I am saying here is that filial or sexual love is not what Julia Gillard was talking about. Julia Gillard certainly does not want to become Tony Abbott’s wife or be treated like his daughter! Tony Abbott is happy to love women who are not his equal in power but he is outraged by Julia Gillard because she has more power than him. What Julia Gillard deserves is respect.

Throughout all of Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership, Tony Abbott has show immense disrespect and has relentlessly tried to undermine everything she has done rather than respect her as the elected Prime Minister and leader of the country. He has not considered the needs of the Australian people, constantly thwarting the process of government. This is why Julia Gillard called Tony Abbott a misogynist - because he shown immense lack of respect.

I congratulate Julia Gillard for naming sexism and harassment for what it is - misogyny - that is, seeing women as less deserving and less important than men. I congratulate Julia Gillard for making a stand. The world now knows that she is a powerful woman deserving of respect.

I believe that history will be more considerate of Julia Gillard than parliament has been during her term. It would be wonderful if our politicians could get on with the business of governing the country and stop the insults and personality clashes.

I would like to see a parliament that is not misogynist, that takes women’s concerns seriously and gives women respect.