Posts Written by Bryony

Provocative. adj. Outdated, old-fashioned, obsolete


A SYTYCB entry

A much-rehearsed debate: someone says that if a woman is wearing ‘provocative’ clothing when she’s raped, then she is in some way responsible for what happened to her. No, says someone else, a woman can wear what she likes, men aren’t animals who are unable to control themselves at the sight of flesh, rape is about power, and so on. I imagine everyone who is reading this agrees with the latter point of view. But the terms of this debate are weirdly detached from the world we live in today, in the West at least.

Short skirts, low-cut tops, high heels – these are no longer the exception. We all know this. We all leave the house. Of all the skirts I’ve owned in my life, the average length is mid-thigh, and that includes an ill-advised long floaty skirt phase. Same with low-cut tops and heels. A lot of women wear these on a day-to-day basis. This is all blindingly obvious, but when it comes to discussions about rape, suddenly we’re back in the ’60s, outraged at anything above the knee. A woman who wears a short skirt is not marking herself out as particularly sexually available: she is dressed entirely normally.

The same thing goes for the word ‘slut.’ Admittedly, to a lesser extent – more people think that women shouldn’t enjoy having sex than would gasp and pop their monocle out at the sight of a woman’s thigh, and this does ...