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“She was asking for it”

Poppy Jennings

*Trigger warning – this article discusses rape and sexual violence*

 

A 17-year-old girl – and I cannot stress the word girl enough – had her own underwear held up in court last week after being raped. Her rapist, a 27-year-old man, was acquitted because the court decided that because she was wearing a thong, she was already ‘open to sex’. So, yet again, a girl is blamed for her own rape.

Let me tell you something, all you misogynistic idiots, who believe how a woman dresses decides how violently she is attacked: CLOTHING, OR A LACK OF, IS NOT CONSENT. If a woman is lying naked, passed out on a park bench at midnight, that does not give you the right to rape her. If a girl wears a thong, hidden underneath her favourite dress, and is enjoying her night, that does not give you the right to drag her into an alley and rape her. If a girl is wearing leggings and a sports bra while running through the city, that does not give you the right to rape her.

The way a woman dresses has nothing to do with whether or not she wants to have sex with you, anyone or at all. The reason why women dress however they dress is completely irrelevant regardless of the circumstances – her dress or shoes or jeans or make-up choices have nothing to do with any of you. A rapist doesn’t rape someone because of their clothes – they rape them because they are a disgusting, deprived, violent person. But for some reason, the court and jury who sit in on cases of rape cannot grasp this. It is ALWAYS the rapist’s fault. Always.

A rapist certainly doesn’t rape someone because of the underwear she has on. MOST IMPORTANTLY, because a rapist doesn’t know what underwear a girl/woman has on until they get through the rest of her clothes and are in the process of assaulting her. Side note – as well as being overly-sexualised items of clothing, thongs are incredibly comfortable for a lot of women, and often don’t have panty-lines which makes them appealing to wear with nice outfits. And women wear thongs because they are sexy too, they wear lace or satin or mesh or cotton because that’s what pants are made from – material. Because, at the end of the day, a rapist was excused of raping a girl because of a piece of material.

Most girls start wearing thongs early in their teens, after discovering that they don’t have to just buy five-packs of underwear from whichever supermarket their parents happened to be in. So if a twelve- or thirteen-year-old happened to be raped when wearing a thong, would the court acquit a rapist? Actually, probably. Because in the eyes of our society, and most people in the court, if you’re female and you’re raped or violated in anyway, it’s your fault. It may not be the truth that anyone wants to accept, but statistically, this is the truth. This is what we’re told.

Ruth Coppinger held up a lacy thong in Irish Parliament this week, saying “It might seem embarrassing to show a pair of thongs here… how do you think a rape victim or a woman feels at the incongruous setting of her underwear being shown in a court?” It made other MPs and representatives incredibly uncomfortable, and you can see the video online if you want to really see how much people cannot face the truth about rape and victim blaming. People avoid discussions on rape and consent which only perpetuates the idea of victim-blaming more.

On Consent: If you have to trick, force, coerce, or make a woman (or girl) feel uncomfortable or scared in order to get her to have sex with you, it’s not consensual. That woman does not want to have sex with you. If a woman is drunk and unable to make conscious decisions about her own safety, and you decide to have sex with her, it’s not consensual. And if a woman decides to have sex with you despite saying no over and over and you’re alone together, it’s probably because she is more afraid of you hurting her or forcing her, that eventually saying yes is the less terrifying option. It make her feel in more control if she says yes even if she doesn’t want to.

And shut your damn mouth if you spare even a second arguing about ‘false claims’. Seriously. Stop trying to victimise yourself and silence the voices of thousands of women that are raped and abused. False claims make up less than 1% of all reported rapes. LESS THAN ONE PERCENT. And all you’re doing is saying that meagre little number of nothingness is more worthy of our time than the thousands of women who ARE raped. Men are not the victims here (speaking specifically of cases of women being raped by men and of false claims against men). So stop asking to record women for their consent before having sex with them and telling them you are ‘afraid of being accused’. Just don’t rape, assault or abuse women and you’ll be fine. Better yet, why not stand up and fight for women and stop worrying about your own ego for five seconds, help people that actually need it, teach your friends and sons that a woman’s body is not your automatic right.

This patriarchal, misogynistic mess of nonsense that we call a society is getting really boring now. Are you not sick of opening the news or your social medias and reading another story of rape or assault or murder or suicide caused by the male ego. I’m so sick of having discussions with colleagues and friends and family about the way women are treated in this society. It may be easier for you to remain in your ignorance and say some girls are ‘asking for it’ or ‘dress like sluts’ and laugh about sexism and misogyny with your mates and call it ‘banter’ but just look at what you’re actually doing. You’re hurting every child, young girl, teenager, woman in your life and perpetuating the stigma that if a woman gets raped it’s because she was asking for it. It’s sick and wrong and it’s time to stop demonising women who are victims.

Get involved with the discussion, use #ThisIsNotConsent and add your voice to all those other men and women who support victims and do not shy away from the realities of rape and the misogynistic system we have in place.

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