No, you’re wrong

James at Slutwalk
James (my husband) at Slutwalk. Photo taken by me

*Trigger warning for discussion of rape*

I was at slutwalk yesterday, and as I’d volunteered to be a marshall at the Melbourne event, apparently I was a “slut wrangler” – thanks The Age.  It was a fantastic event and the organisers did a great job liaising with the police and the city council regarding the march, getting great speakers and keeping everything together.  This post isn’t about the great signs, fantastic people, great speakers and the courage that everyone showed by marching or attending yesterday, no, this post is about the protesters to the march who just don’t get it.

As reported in The Age today:

Two lone Christian protesters holding signs saying ”Rape is horrifying but so is immodesty” and ”God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” were the only visible opponents.

There was perhaps a third protester on the steps of Treasury House at the top of Collins Street.  I heard that there was someone there with a sign that was very close to illegible due to the amount of text on it, who ended up being surrounded by people who were marching before the police took them away (the sign holder, not the marchers).  I have no idea what was on that sign, so I’ll leave my commenting to the ones reported in The Age.

Rape is horrifying but so is immodesty

So, apparently being immodest, is as bad as being raped.  I take it that the author of this sign hadn’t:

a) thought for more than 5 seconds;
b) been raped;
c) know anyone who has been raped (though if they do, they probably think that it was the victim’s fault); and/or
d) listened to the experience of someone who has been raped/sexually assaulted and asked why/how the rapist could do that.

The author of that sign also clearly missed the entire point of the march.  The fact is, that regardless of what women wear, rapists will rape.  I was (sadly) briefly friends with a woman at university who was raped at knifepoint when walking home from school one day.  She had her throat slit during and was incredibly lucky to survive.  She was wearing her school uniform and carrying her school bag – she was not dressed immodestly.  I was raped by my then boyfriend.  I was partially naked at the time, which I suppose is considered immodest, but given I was in a relationship with him, then again no – any more than I’d be immodest if I was raped today by a partner (which wouldn’t happen).

Before I started reading this post I thought I’d do a little bit of reading about modesty (on wikipedia of course), to make sure I understood what the protesters were talking about.  There are some very interesting quotes in the wikipedia article on modesty which I thought I’d share.

Modesty may be expressed in social interaction by communicating in a way exhibiting humility, shyness, or simplicity. The general elements of modesty include:

  • Downplaying one’s accomplishments;
  • Behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency

Standards of modesty vary by culture, or generation and vary depending on who is exposed, which parts of the body are exposed, the duration of the exposure, the context, and other variables.

Proponents of modesty often see it as a demonstration of respect for their bodies, for social norms, and for the feelings of themselves and others. Some people believe modesty may reduce sexual crimes. Some critics assert that modesty reflects a negative body image, and there may be a correlation between repressive body attitudes and undesirable outcomes such as sexual crimes, violence, and stress.

Most discussion of modesty involves clothing. Issues of modesty and decency have arisen especially during the 20th century as a result of the increased popularity in many countries of shorter dresses and swimsuits and the consequential exposure of more of the body. This has been more pronounced in the case of female fashions. Most people consider the clothes that they are wearing to be modest. Otherwise, they would not wear the clothes. What is considered “modest” in this context will depend on the context when the clothes will be worn and can vary between religions, cultures, generations, occasions, and the persons who are present. [emphasis added]

Modesty is such a fluid concept, it changes year to year, and what is considered modest now, would be considered highly immodest 100 years or more ago.  The fact that modesty has different rules depending on which gender you present is also incredibly suckful and unfair, and good reasons for it to be ignored.  Immodesty is not as horrifying rape, I’d happily walk naked across the CBD of Melbourne, but I’d not happily be raped.

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble

I’d just like to laugh at the irony of this statement.  Humility is nicely defined as:

Humility (adjectival form: humble) is the quality of being modest, reverential, even obsequiously submissive, and never being arrogant, contemptuous, rude or even self-aggrandizing.

I’d like more Christians to be humble, and to not attempt to dictate to others what they should and should not do.

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2 thoughts on “No, you’re wrong”

  1. That James is a legend. And I absolutely *love* the sign. Which one of you came up with that idea? May I copy it if I’m in a similar demonstration in the future (I’ll put (c) Bluebec at the bottom!)

    1. James most likely won’t mind – he’s rather cool about such things. So, as it was his idea, if you’re going to attribute it, put “(c) James @ blubec . com” – which means I should create him an email address from here 🙂

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