To everyone talking about dressing modestly, appropriately and decently, remember this. The problem is not the way women dress. It’s the rapists. Stop focusing on the clothes. Focus on the rapists.
On the 24th of March, the Facebook page The Malaysian Feminist
(TMF) posted the following screenshot of a Facebook post gone viral that showed two girls commuting on a MRT in Singapore, one wearing tight-fitting shorts and the other wearing a t-shirt that made it appear she wasn’t wearing shorts at all.
The screenshot TMF posted also contained comments on the Facebook post that were from people filled with disbelief and outrage at how the two girls were dressed. The Malaysian Feminist specifically highlighted some ridiculous comments that all essentially said the same thing, ‘These two girls deserve to be raped due to their choice of clothing’.
TMF captioned the photo, “In case anyone needs to be reminded that rape culture exists and is very real”, before following up with additional commentary pointing out the problematic nature of the comments. TMF’s post also gained a great deal of attention and faced positive and negative feedback.
The roundabout thinking exhibited by the commenters was pointed out by TMF, who explained that the idea that women encourage rapists by the way they dress needs to be put to rest.
The last line from the post reads:
“To everyone talking about dressing modestly, appropriately and decently, remember this. The problem is not the way women dress. It’s the rapists. Stop focusing on the clothes. Focus on the rapists.”
In the commentary, TMF repeatedly shows through examples that people who think that lack of modesty and decency are the cause of rape will never be satisfied with longer skirts or sleeves. From longer skirts and longer sleeves it will grow to them saying that more women should wear the hijab if they don’t want to be raped or that they should be covering their shoulders more which will lead to demand for a niqab and then a burkha and even then it won’t be enough.
Some choice comments on the girls’ attire showed the amount of blame some people put onto victims of sexual assault and how they excuse the actions of rapists.
“It’s just animal instinct that has gone out of control. It’s partly the girls’ fault to trigger it off.”
“if all the ladies in the train cover up more, it will not draw so much attention to themselves. Most of the time, the victims asked for it. If you dress to attract, then you shall receive attraction, from the wolves… so ladies… modesty is the way to go.. remember men are weak in the presences of naked skin.”
“Shes asking to get raped is it? Then kena raped blame rapists? Lol”
Why are we blaming the victims instead of the ones at fault? More importantly, what are we teaching the younger generation by comparing men to animals and women to prey? By teaching young girls that dressing modestly will protect them from being assaulted by men we are teaching them that they are responsible for others’ actions and that their bodies are inherently sexual objects.
Comments like this directed at young girls, most of which are struggling with self-confidence, tell them that their bodies are naturally shameful and to be hidden away. Not only is this a disservice towards women, it also enforces the stereotype that men are animals who cannot control their urges.
I believe that every person has a right to wear whatever they feel comfortable in, these girls shouldn’t have been so widely criticized and harassed by netizens commenting on their body and in order to move forward as a more progressive society we need to leave behind such toxic, harmful ideas that blame the victims rather than the perpetrators.