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Women, take some precautions

Tory MP Richard Graham has been bitterly lambasted for saying women are putting themselves at risk of rape by staggering around the night streets wearing short skirts and high heels.

His comments came just days after actress Joanna Lumley said women should dress demurely to avoid being “raped or robbed”.

She said: “Don’t look like trash, don’t get drunk, don’t be sick down your front, don’t break your heels and stagger about in the wrong clothes at midnight. This is bad.

“Don’t be sick in the gutter at midnight in a silly dress with no money to get a taxi home, because somebody will take advantage of you – either rape you, or they’ll knock you on the head and rob you.”

Given the obviously well-intentioned purpose of both statements, it’s tempting to question what all the fuss is about. But rape is always worth making a fuss over and it’s important the clatter of familiarly politicised feminist protest doesn’t drown out the sound of some very good advice.

It’s the same guidance as used to come from concerned dads when they snapped – just as their daughters were turning the front door-handle: “Don’t think you’re going out looking like that. Get some clothes on!”

By my reckoning – and speaking as one who argued the odds with her dad over skirt lengths and heel heights until she was blue in the face – vulnerability can be spotted by just about everyone apart from the vulnerable.

If women haven’t learned by now, in this post-feminist age, that taking control of your own destiny means taking responsibility for your own safety, none of those gender struggles can have been worth it.

Of course all those outraged women’s groups have their points. They are undeniable. Rape is a crime of power, control and violence by men who are inadequates and seedy predators. They are the offenders. Their victims are chosen to be exactly that.

A woman’s wardrobe choice is not and never could be considered a contributing crime, should the worst happen.

But do scantily-clad young women on a drunken night out in a city or town centre really want to rely on being free of blame when they fall, vomiting into the gutter, right into the hands of a cowardly attacker just waiting for the senseless to cross his path?

Wouldn’t they be better staying the right side of mindless intoxication, keeping their wits about them sufficiently to signal strength and independence, with friends able to look out for their safety and retaining the ability to look out for friends?

We’ve all seen girls teetering about the streets in a frightening state of helplessness – a crime waiting to happen by unwitting invitation.

Don’t shoot messengers who want to protect women against those particular men – not all, by any stretch – who would harm them. Precautions are taken against risk of burglary and bag-snatching without a whimper of complaint.

Why would a potentially life-limiting, violent attack be less important?

Have your say

Nathan - I have no more to add as I think you put it perfectly! It's abhorent that we live in a culture where people saying that women 'ask for it' to a certain extent, and anyone who actually believes this nonsense should be ashamed of themselves.

If I wanted to go out and wear a bikini I should be able to - yes I would expect to have people turn their heads but it doesn't mean it's acceptable for men to even think about rape!

Posted by Charlotte on 7 February 2013 at 15:03

the studies continue to show that the majority of rapes is done by known persons of the victims in many countries and that is less discussed than the clothing issue.

Posted by catarina on 3 February 2013 at 15:46

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