If a woman approaches a man and says something like ‘please have sex with me’ then she is asking for it. Anything that is not along the lines of ‘I want you to shag me’ or akin to ‘take me, take me now,’ is not an invitation to sex. I’d rather hoped that by now, this was so obvious that it didn’t need mentioning, but recent court activity in the USA makes it clear there’s still work to be done.
Dressing provocatively is not ‘asking for it’. Assuming that it is, suggests some underlying assumptions that need to be challenged. If someone is dressing provocatively then that could well mean that they wish to draw attention to themselves and advertise that they are interested in hooking up for sex. That doesn’t mean they want sex with anyone who asks, or forces them. There is a whole world of difference between ‘available’ and ‘anybodies’.
I feel we’re dangerously close still to the Victorian stereotypes of angels and whores. A woman is either chaste, virtuous and unavailable, or she is a slut and you can do what you like to her. No one is either of those things, everyone is somewhere in between. Some women are more into sex than others, some are into monogamy, some like casual hook-ups, but I say with confidence that there are no women out there going round trying to get every man they meet to have sex with them. No matter how ‘up for it’ a woman is, she will have standards and preferences, and she should always have the right to say ‘no’. Even if a woman publically announces that she just wants someone to shag her, she still has the right to decline offers. Unless you are mentally unwell, there are going to be people you would say no to.
As women we have the right to control our bodies, and refuse or invite sex for any reason at all. Or no reason. We own our bodies. We can display them if we like, we can invite attention, make it clear we’re open to offers, and still expect to be able to say no and have that respected.
There are some very sick assumptions about men tied up in this issue as well. That men are basically animals who cannot control themselves. Show them some provocative female flesh and they can’t avoid copulating. They have to. Therefore anything other than covering up is going to make it impossible for them not to commit rape. Any kind of come-on or encouragement means they can’t stop. So once you’ve started, there’s no backing out, because men cannot be expected to have that kind of self control or discipline. Which is not a healthy attitude at all, and does a great disservice to the vast majority of blokes. Most of the men I’ve been involved with knew how to hear and respect ‘no’. Most of the men in my life have the self control not to have to shove themselves into anyone who looks halfway available, and would be disgusted by any assumption that they could, or would. But for the ones who do, the idea that all men are fundamentally like this gives them an excuse. One they have no right to.
Go into any clothing store and you’ll find it’s far easier to by provocative clothing for women than cover-up gear. Especially if you want to cover up without looking like you’re a pensioner. Look at the magazines, the media representation, the fashion gurus… provocative is the message. Yet a woman who goes with this, can then be blamed if someone takes it as an invitation to rape her. That’s not acceptable.
The other assumption at work here, the biggest lie of the lot, is that rape is about sex. What women think of as rape, is just men needed to do the natural thing. Bollocks! Sex is, and should be entirely about something shared between two people. If you aren’t interested in how the other person feels, you are not trying to have sex with them. At best you are using them. If you just want an orgasm, and don’t want a meaningful interaction with another human being (be it ever so brief) the answer is masturbation, or maybe a professional you can pay to help you out. It’s not hard. The internet is full of porn to help you help yourself. Horny decent people deal with this stuff with no trouble at all, and do not rape others just to scratch the itch. Rape is about power over another. It’s the violent assertion that they don’t matter as much as you. It’s an act of taking away from another, reducing and de-humanising them. Because if you merely like and fancy someone (much less love them), you’re going to take the time to be sure they feel the same way and want the same things. If you can’t be bothered to get that straight, you will end up raping someone.