“She’s asking for it”

*Trigger warning*

I was out and about not too long ago, enjoying a visit at a friend’s tanning salon. For my non Canadian readers, there are a few things you need to know before we delve much further in to this story

  1. We consider ourselves a mosaic not a melting pot. We are a group of different cultures standing together, all unique and pretty that make a bigger picture.
  2. Tanning laws state that you must be 18 years or older to enjoy sitting in a box of warm cancer
  3. We have short summers so when the weather hit 0*C (32*F) we break out our midriffs

So, there I sit conversing about whatever passes for small talk these days when three young women waltz through the door. Two are wearing high waisted leggings and crop tops while the other is wearing hammer pants harem pants and a crop top. They have their hair in buns, bright red lipstick and they are looking pretty darn good. I leave to go cheat on my diet (I may or may not have sucked the mayo off a burger) and when I returned they were gone. I sit down and continue my small talk when, from the other couch, I hear it —

“Well, when they dress like that, what do they expect?”

I was momentarily stunned in to silence. Those of you who know me know that this in itself is a pretty rare occurrence. I slowly turn to the man who had been speaking in disbelief and say “sorry, what?” hoping that I had heard wrong or, at the very least, misinterpreted.

I had not.

Now, I have to mention that, of the five men that would engage in the following “discussion”, four were middle eastern and the fifth was Russian (I think, maybe from the Czech republic? I’m not a geography whiz). These are countries that have higher incidents of sexual assault than Canada. That, to me at least, is relevant. These men thought nothing of talking about their view son sexual assault/consent in public. They were so convinced that their way of thinking was normal that, ironically, they were shocked that I did not agree to their original statement.

I’ll save you the outrage and the name calling because it occurred on both sides and I may or may not have yelled a bit a lot. I will however answer their points because this is obviously a problem that still need to be addressed which is sad – it’s 2014 people!

“Well, if you were starving and someone left a plate of food out would you not be tempted to eat it?”

Tempted? Sure! I’m tempted to do things all the time (I have a very strong Id – Google it) but I don’t succumb. I’ve never picked off a neighboring tables appetizers to date and I am doing some pretty weird things when it comes to food these days. We are human beings, we should have some sort of impulse control. Also, rape and sex are not the same thing and they are certainly not the same thing as eating. Yes, sex is a need but you can meet your need for release without the help of another person. Basically, go ahead and look at that sexy lady! You are even allowed to go up to her and flirt in the hopes of consensual sex but, if you don’t luck out you get to go home and jerk off. You do not get to rape her. Sorry.

“50% of rapes happen because of her clothing”

If you are going to make up a statistic please try to be less obvious – try 47% or 53%… just saying. I couldn’t find any real stats on what percentage of sexual assaults are provoked by clothing. To be fair, that is probably because there are a lot of factors that play in to the motivation of any crime. So I’ll draw from something I do know. I danced regularly as a stripper for a long time. I dressed pretty darn provocatively and in Canada we get totally naked. Lap dances allow patrons to touch certain areas and not the ones that they really want. That’s a tease right? Add the fact that alcohol is being consumed and that probably makes my old job pretty risky. Number of times I was raped or almost raped while alone and naked with a drunk guy in the back? Zero.

“When you let it all hang out in public men are going to go for it”

Up to 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone who knows the victim. You are much more likely to have to protect yourself from the guy who took you out to dinner than some creep jumping out of the bushes at you, overwhelmed by the lust you caused by baring your belly button. In fact, 60% of sexual assaults occur in private homes, 38% in the victims own home (“Report on Sexual Assault in Canada”). How’s that for a scary though? I was always taught, wrongly it would seem, to fear strangers in alleys not friends in my bedroom.

“Hot young things like them need to be even more careful than anyone else”

Victims of sexual assault come in every age group from infancy to senior citizens; they come from every race, religion, socio-econmic status and body shape. Victims are chosen for every reason and in fact, the only thing that gets repeated over and over about motive is that the perpetrator considered the victim “vulnerable”. We don’t need to victim shame. We don’t need to tell women not to do things in order to avoid raped. We need to tell people to stop raping. Period.

In 2009 there were 677,000 self rep0rted cases of sexual assault (and god knows how many of these crimes went unreported) in Canada alone. That’s a lot of mini skirts and crop tops. Nobody deserves to be assaulted, nobody deserves to be victimized, nobody deserves to have to live with the lasting effects of such a crime. Nobody. We control our fantasies and I have no problem admitting that I have often fantasized about being raped but that is not the same thing. No means no. Consent an be withdrawn. Consent cannot be given while intoxicated. Sex is not to be expected after a date or a fancy dinner or a night on the town. Women and men can dress how they want, flirt and flaunt all they want and, unless you have been given consent, it is not an invitation.

The fact that this isn’t abundantly clear to everyone in such a civilized society is the real shock here, not those three women at my tanning salon. We have come so far but cases like this show me that we are nowhere near the finish line, so much still needs to be done for equality and sexual freedom. If you have ever been witness to any of this ignorance I hope you speak up. If you have been a victim yourself please know that there are many resources to help you including the sexual assault support center (here is the link to the one in Ottawa but they are nationwide). We cannot afford to be silent any longer.


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