Straight Talk Advice

Oct 19, 2011

Did girl’s risqué attire contribute to close call?

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: A friend almost got raped. We were at a club and she can be really insecure about guys so she was flirting to the max wearing four-inch heels, short shorts, cleavage and tons of makeup. She went out to the parking lot with this guy and he apparently got rough with her. She returned really shook up and crying and we all went home. I think she was dumb to dress like that — even without going to parking lot. But other girls think you should be able to wear whatever you want. What do you say? — Steffi, Toledo, Ohio

Sarah 19, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

It was probably her insecure vibe, not her outfit, that got her in trouble. One of my friends was similarly insecure. She would dress as sexily as possible and then complain about only attracting guys who treated her badly.

Brie 20, Santa Barbara, Calif. Ask me a question

How you carry yourself is what matters. I’ve heard this from law enforcement. Lots of girls dress provocatively when they go out — myself included. I love heels and the higher the better. But I avoid sketchy situations and always stay with my friends.

Hannah 17, Safford, Ariz. Ask me a question

Girls wearing revealing clothing are often insecure. They “hide” by drawing attention to their bodies rather than their personalities.

Christina 19, Marysville, Calif. Ask me a question

The media teaches girls that being less-dressed and flirty this is how to win guys. So we dress accordingly and are accused of “asking for it.” I’ve experienced uncomfortable attention wearing certain clothes and have become more careful. Please support your friend. It is men who need to change.

Justin 24, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

I respect the word no. But porn-star looks can lead to being treated like an object by some men. Personally, I’m not attracted to slutty dressing because the girl appears promiscuous.

Elise 20, Orlando, Florida Ask me a question

The way you dress attracts particular kinds of guys, so whatever kind of guy you want, dress accordingly.

Rachel 20, Los Angeles, Calif. Ask me a question

My university supports the SlutWalk movement which started after a Toronto woman was raped and police said her attire was to blame. Dressing provocatively isn’t “asking” to be raped. Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault, no matter their dress or actions.

Liva 22, Santa Barbara, Calif. Ask me a question

A girl dressed like your friend can send a message that she wants to “hook up” — even if that’s not her intent. It was poor judgment to be alone with someone she’d just met. Nonetheless, rape is never the woman’s fault and rapists are responsible for their actions.

Catherine 24, Hudson, N.Y. Ask me a question

A 2011 Utah State University study found that only 4.4 percent of all reported rapes involved provocative behavior by the victim. We live in a rape culture. The belief that dressing provocatively is “asking for it,” while men fulfill their role (through rape), is offensive to everyone.

DEAR STEFFIE: I feel for your friend. We indeed live in a rape culture. In a 1995 nationwide survey, one-third of college men reported they would rape a woman if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. Catherine is correct that only 4.4 percent of rapes involve provocative dress or behavior. The vast majority of victims are wearing jeans and t-shirt or sweatshirt. Most are under age 30. Over 90 percent know the rapist.

Rapists look for vulnerability. A woman dressed like your friend attracts a lot of male attention. If she is also naive or insecure (like you say she was), she is a target because guys know she can be conned into thinking they care about her and she’ll agree to stupid things (like going somewhere alone). Bottom line: the average young woman is not secure or street-wise enough to go out dressed like your friend was and safely handle the con artists/rapists she will attract.

Editor’s Note: Rape culture is kept alive by the high percentages of surveyed men (and women) who believe forced sex is justified in certain situations. Examples of those situations: if a woman “leads” a man on; if she first says yes, then changes her mind; if she goes to the man’s house; if the man has spent a lot of money on her; if he is so “turned on” he can’t stop. Because of our collective mindset, most men who commit legally-defined rape don’t even think it was rape.

Pretty sick stuff.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one out of every six American women and one out of every 33 American men have been the victim of rape or attempted rape in her or his lifetime. These victims are 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and four times more likely to commit suicide. If you know a victim and are in a position to help, see to it that they get professional counseling. As with any trauma, the sooner the better.

It’s our own thoughts that keep rape alive. I hope my readers will take some time to look inside and adjust their moral compasses to make sex a more joyous, sacred act and the world a kinder, freer place. —Lauren

  1. By Susie, age , from Lodi, CA on 10/22/2011

    I don’t believe that anyone asks for or deserves to be raped.  However, girls who dress like this are taking a big risk.  I have a friend who was attacked and came close to being raped when she was dressed this way because she wanted to be “sexy.”  My little sister has also started doing it and I really worry about her.  When I see her putting on these kind of clothes in our room and putting on makeup that makes her look like a whore, I try to warn her about what happened to my friend but she won’t listen.  She thinks it will attract guys, but I try to tell her that any guy who needs to be attracted this way is not the kind of guy you want to attract, but she won’t listen.  Even though we have lots of conflicts and don’t like having to share a small room, I love her and don’t want anything to happen to her and hope that she doesn’t learn her lesson the hard way.


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  2. By Eva, age , from Redding, CA, USA on 11/07/2011

    It worries me that not one of your panelists, female or male commented on the fact that the girl relating this story allowed her friend to leave the club by herself.  My friends and I have always had a pact that no one leaves alone, we make sure we all make it to our cars.  It is a good safety rule for women out together; stay with your friends.  This group of young women need to look out for each other.

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