Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,
Mark
mhaithaca

Is this blaming the victim, or suggesting precautions? (214.4)

A Toronto police officer speaking at a campus safety information session last month is in trouble after saying "Don't dress like a slut" as advice on how to stay safe on campus and reduce the risk of sexual assault. Not dressing provocatively, avoiding dimly lit places, and not walking alone at night are among the tips Toronto police have stopped offering, for fear that a list of should-nots becomes patronizing to women.

I'm in full agreement that sexual assault is never the fault of the victim, and is always the fault of the attacker. Eliminating sexual assault at the source of the problem is a good goal, and how a woman dresses or behaves is never the source of the problem.

That said, from the perspective of an individual woman, there simply are things she can do to reduce the chances that she will be a victim. Pretending otherwise for the sake of political correctness? That's patronizing, if you ask me. "Don't dress like a slut" is an asinine thing for a police officer to say to a group of college students, but there's a valid message hidden in his poor choice of words.
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