On January 24, 2011, Constable Michael Sanguinetti and another officer from Toronto’s 31 Division came to a York University Safety Forum at the Osgoode Hall Law School. While presumably listing ways to avoid sexual assault Sanguinetti said, “You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
It was a choice of words he came to regret. It outraged many people including one MACLEANS commentator who said, “A woman has the right to dress as she wishes. It is never okay for someone to take away her ability to feel safe in her own body simply because society deems her dresses provocative. A woman has the right to to say ‘no’ and have her decision be respected.”
Toronto Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray responded on behalf of the Police by saying that cautioning women on their state of dress is not part of any police training. “They are taught that nothing a woman does contributes to a sexual assault.” Sanguinetti apologized in a written statement.
The Constable’s comments triggered a “Slut Walk” at Queen’s Park in Toronto that attracted thousands of participants. The movement has now spread to the U.S. and England. The intent of the walks is to help to remove the stigma of the term “Slut”. They also want to spread the word that those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault, without exception.
Which is all very admirable, but ignores the fact that the Constable was trying to tell women that there are violent men out there who target prostitutes (sluts), and in some circumstances, women will be safer if they don’t dress in the same clothing that prostitutes wear in order to advertise the sex trade.
It is the same common sense that says it is inadvisable to wear a bikini to a dinner party given by the bosses wife, or a fur coat to a PETA Rally.
One step beyond wearing hardly any clothes is Nudity. In many countries public nudity is forbidden outright on the basis that nudity is inherently sexual. Large numbers of people are, for various reasons, offended by and even distressed with public displays of nudity. Attempts to make public nudity legal will likely continue to fail, mostly because the majority of people don’t have skin that fits them all that well. That is why most prostitutes dress the way they do – it is more alluring to dress like a slut than to wear no clothes at all.
Which is likely why Mark Twain observed:
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.
So ladies, wear revealing clothing if you want to. But don’t ever think it is safe to wear anything you want where ever you want. Life isn’t about Why you shouldn’t be a victim, it is about how NOT to be a victim.