If a Woman Dresses Modestly, She Will Never Be Raped (and Other Myths)


I happened upon a web post (which shall remain nameless) that encouraged teen girls and young women (specifically Westerners) to dress modestly. Great! All for it. Now the advice was a bit extreme to me; never dress to look attractive or “sexy” was the theme. However, I can certainly agree with the initial premise that modestly is important (understanding that modesty means different things to different people within different cultures).

So far so good.

The web post provided a long list of things you should never wear so that the men around you will never have sexual thoughts or desires.

I have a responsibility to dress appropriately but I don’t think anything I wear could (or should) completely shut off a person’s naturally created desire for sex. Men and women can lust after someone else without any visual provocation. And men and women can be raped whether their rapist is sexually attracted to them or not.

What made this particular post push me over the edge were the dozens and dozens of comments following.

This one caught my eye immediately: “…maybe if more girls dressed modestly there wouldn’t be 1.3 rapes every minute”.DSC_0698

You may guess I had a very strong, negative reaction to that comment. It about sent me through the roof. Not because I haven’t heard it before…maybe because I’m tired of hearing it. I am tired of rape myths.

Honestly, I fear for the young women who believe that. First, because they are far more likely to victim-blame. And second, because they have  been given the perfect reason to blame themselves if they are ever raped. I assume that the girl who posted that particular comment would feel overwhelming guilt because her modesty was not modest enough to stop an attack: she would think it was her fault.

Rape is about power, not clothes. Anyone, wearing anything, at anytime could be assaulted. The only way to stop those 1.3 rapes every minute is for rapists to stop raping…it has nothing to do with what the victim does, says, or wears.

The idea that “good girls” are always safe and “bad girls” get raped is rubbish. I don’t care what “kind” of girl you are, no one has the right to touch you in an intimate way without your consent. Whether you own skirts that reach your upper thighs or skirts that reach your lower ankles, you do not deserve to be, and you are not asking to be, raped.

My rampage against this modesty = no rape mentality could go on forever. So I will stop now. But I do want to pass on a resource which addresses this idea, and similar poorly-constructed notions, related to rape:

Link to "Misconceptions on Rape" from Rape Survivor Journey
Link to “Misconceptions on Rape” from Rape Survivor Journey

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