This is literally what the “Slut Walk” protesters are saying. It’s sexism and misogyny of the highest order. Feminists, real feminists, fraught long and hard battles to get women properly educated. The real feminist educated and empowered women. Real feminists don’t assert that things happen to women. Women are agents capable of making this happen. To make things happen you need to know what the actions are and what the affects are. Clothing is a choice that is made, and it has a real affect.
Now lets look at the two parts of the slogan. “Don’t teach women how to avoid rape” This is quite very clear. Don’t Teach women. Women shouldn’t ever need to preform basic risk analysis. We don’t teach women to lock the car door so it doesn’t get stolen. We don’t teach women to look both ways before crossing the street to avoid getting hit. We don’t teach women not to shove forks into electrical outlets to avoid being electrocuted. We don’t teach women defensive driving to avoid car accidents. We don’t teach women how to minimize risks of identity theft.
Wait. We do. We do teach women all of that. We do hold that minimizing risks is important. We don’t have protests saying “Don’t teach whites how to avoid muggings, teach Blacks not to rob”. In every crime but rape we recognize that bad people exist, and we need to protect ourselves from them. It’s not Victim-Blaming to say look both ways before you cross the street.
I understand that the specific phrasing “Don’t dress like a slut” is poor phrasing. The message does need to be delivered in a way that is not slut shaming. The message does need to be delivered. With tens of thousands of women working together, I’m sure that they could figure out how. I’m not even going to try. I’m a man and will get it very wrong.
Now, the second half of the slogan. “Teach men not to rape” Well the first half was misogyny, this is misandry. Two sides of the same coin, so it’s not surprising we find them together. We already teach PEOPLE not to rape. It is a crime. It is condemned by every government religious and secular organization that exists. Bad people exist. Bad people do bad things. Bad people don’t care that it’s wrong. Teaching men common knowledge that they already know does nothing to dissuade the bad people from doing bad things.
As a whole this slogan presents the problem as gendered and directional. It is neither. There are male rape victims and female rapists. Why shouldn’t we be teaching women not to rape? My erection is not consent. Don’t teach men about the risks of accepting rides from strangers.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some good slogans at Slut walks. “My Clothing is not consent” and “My body is not consent” are good. These do not undermine the agency of women or paint men a rapists. They are about real issues that can be addressed in meaningful ways. Namely Consent. Education on what is and is not consent would be a great thing. The issue has become so muddied that I’m currently advocating that consent requires, but is not limited to the proper paperwork filled out in triplicate and notarized. I would love to have a more sane definition of consent, but “Teach men not to rape” and “Victim-Blaming” shuts down any conversation on the topic.