A short dress, yoga pants, a turtleneck - whatever you choose to wear, you should never have to worry about getting attacked due to a fashion choice. Who in their right mind thinks, “Her dress is above the knee. She must be asking for it”? The answer is, unfortunately, many, as we as a society have made the error of allowing others to pass judgement on so many of the things women think, wear, and do - even, in cases like these, where they have been brutally attacked.
Unfortunately, this is all too common and a woman’s clothing choice has even been used in rape trial cases against the victim. For example, in a case in Ireland, a male lawyer accused of rape claimed the 17-year-old woman’s lacy thong underwear she wore indicated consent.
The defense lawyer stated, “Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone?” the lawyer asked, according to The Irish Times. “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” (Safronova, 2018). Ultimately, the man was acquitted.
This is an outrage. How did we let our society come to this? How did men become so superior that they can attack an innocent woman and blame the underwear she was wearing - which, I may point out, is not even able to be seen without her pants being removed. How can someone blame a hideous act on someone’s article of clothing? It is just unfathomable.
You have to wonder when you hear cases like these, do these perpetrators have children? Daughters? Mothers? Sisters? Aunts? Would they accept this same excuse if the same vile act was committed on one of them? Do they truly believe that their screams, kicks, and tears were justified due to the type of underwear they chose to put on that morning?
Trials like this have thrown the world into a global frenzy, spurring protests, and social media responses. Women have posted images of their lacy thongs, writing “No matter what I wear, no means no!” and “What I wear is not consent!” (Safronova, 2018).
While we are progressing as a society in terms of laws that protect sexual assault survivors specifically in the U.S, it is imperative that we only continue this fight world-wide to ensure that no survivor is blamed in any way shape or form for their attack - especially for an article of clothing that should celebrate femininity, not punish.