“The sins of men are, in part, the fault of women, specifically women in tight-fitting clothing.” Or so claims a religious pamphlet being handed out in Bristol, Virginia. It goes on to say, “Scripture tells us that when a man looks on a woman to lust for her he has already committed adultery in his heart. If you are dressed in a way that tempts a men to do this secret (or not so secret) sin, you are a participant in the sin. By the way, some rape victims would not have been raped if they had dressed properly. So can we really say they were innocent victims?”
What was going through the mind of the woman who handed out these pamphlets? Was she so unappealing physically and spiritually that she had to blame ‘provocative women’ for the social disappointments in her life? Is she aware that most rapists seek out shy, modestly-dressed women and girls because they are perceived as less confident and thus easier targets?
I revel in being female and having the right to garb myself as I please. I do not denigrate men with the assumption that, if I wear something alluring, they will take advantage of me because they cannot control themselves. I do not hold such a low expectation of them, and I demand they not hold similar low expectations of me by limiting what I can do, where I can go, and how I can dress based simply on my gender.
In return, I do not limit men by my own expectations and biases when it comes to their clothing. I believe they have should have the right to wear the range of beautiful clothing and shoes a woman does – but our culture does not allow it. Conversely, a man can walk around shirtless without fear of sexual assault but a woman cannot. These senseless double standards have no place in our twenty-first century world.
I wish for the time when one can wear, or not wear, what one pleases without the judgment of cretins. Until then, I will continue to frequent naturist clubs, festivals and other events where diversity, creativity and textile freedom are honored.