Can You Spot The Dirty Girl?

image Well the dirty sluts are at it again.  In Uganda women in mini skirts are responsible for traffic accidents.  It seems that because men cannot manage to ogle a woman and drive safely, the solution is that women must be forced to cover their bodies by law.

Nsaba Buturo, Uganadas minister of ethics and integrity, is quoted by the BBC as saying, “What’s wrong with a miniskirt? You can cause an accident because some of our people are weak mentally. Wearing a miniskirt should be regarded as “indecent”, which would be punishable under Ugandan law.   These days you hardly know who is a mother from a daughter, they are all naked.”

Wow, apparently once you push out a kid you are no longer allowed to be a sexual being, or display your body in any way.  Motherhood means a lifetime of chastity and purity, so have all the fun before you get pregnant ladies, afterwards you must live like a nun devoid of agency or desire. 

Why is it that women are always expected to suffer because of a “male weakness.?”  The suggestion is never that men should modify their behaviour, but that women must constantly adjust ours.  A woman going about her daily life is not responsible for the pervert that cannot keep his eyes on the road.  To slut shame women for a lack of propriety on the part of males, is just another example of the ways in which men continue to control women’s bodies.

On the flip side of cover and be shamed, is the idea that exposure should be rewarded.  A Melbourne pub tried to run a “No Undie Sundie” – a promotion “urging women to remove their underwear in return for a $50 drink card“, Oz’s Daily Telegraph reports.  The online ad that featured a Brittany Spears upskirt said, “Free glass of champagne for first 100 ladies flash bra [sic] or undies to bar staff; for free drink hang your undies on the line above the bar for $50 drink card.

This amounts to pimping of womens bodies for profit.  Yes the women are rewarded for the display of their genitalia, but how much profit did the bar stand to gain from the male customers who would be attending in the hopes of seeing female flesh?  This was hardly a loosing proposition for the pub in question.

No need to panic though because Sue Maclellan, Victoria’s liquor licensing director, ordered the cancellation of the festivities claiming, “it was likely to encourage irresponsible drinking”.  That is the official party line but statements from women groups point to a different reason.

Carolyn Worth of Melbourne Centre Against Sexual Assault was more forthright, slamming the event as “stupid and dangerous”. She said: “It sends a very bad message, and it is one made very explicit. It’s almost an invitation to sexual assault.”

Port Phillip mayor Janet Cribbes weighed in by saying she’d “consider referring the organisers to the Advertising Standards Bureau”.

She explained: “The ad is bordering on being pornographic. It fuels the fire for irresponsible drinking, irresponsible behaviour and puts young women at risk and makes them more vulnerable to sexual assault.

I didn’t know that drinking made me more vulnerable to sexual attack.  For 30 something years now I have  believed that having a little thing called a vagina made me vulnerable to rape.  A woman does not need to be drunk to become the victim of sexual assault, she simply needs to be in the vicinity of a man that is determined to be violent. 

Why is it irresponsible for a woman to decide to remove her bra or panties?  image Even standing completely naked before a man does not give him the right to have access to her body; therefore the idea that somehow nudity is irresponsible cannot stand up to scrutiny.  The other aspect of this issue is power.  Rape is not a sexual act, it is an expression of power over women.  Even if a man is sexually excited from viewing  naked bodies, unless he has a desire to harm nudity will not lead to assault.  The arguments made to stop this event removes agency from women and creates men as wild savages.  Though we may not agree with the choice to disrobe, it is still the right of the individual to disrobe.  When we place moral standards on behaviour they are usually targeted at women and ultimately this reduces female agency.

Even when we think we are acting in support of women we need to place our actions within a wider discourse to consider the implications.  If the goal is to reduce rape, we need to consider the reason for rape within our actions.  Demanding that women cover up to deal with acts of male violence or inappropriate staring as in the case of Uganda, gives the state power over womens bodies.  This is a dangerous pandoras box because if the state can legislate a minor thing like what can be worn in what spaces, they will be tempted to issue more decrees that limit our behaviour solely based in essentialist gender constructions.  If we are ever to be free of biology, we need to demand that those responsible for the violence, ( read: the men) be held accountable.  We are no  more responsible for male behaviour, than we are for the sun rising and setting each day.


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