Uni | ‘Clothes Are Not Consent’

“Does the evidence out rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front” 

In what world does a woman’s chosen style of dress give consent? 

On November 6th, a 27 year old man was found non guilty of raping a 17 year old girl as a result of her wearing a lace front thong, and the statement made by the man’s defence (above) really bothered me. For me fashion and the clothes I choose to wear is a way of expressing myself, and it is also that for so many others. The clothes we choose to put on as women can make us feel confident, empowered and sexy, but is in no way an invitation or consent to being raped or sexually assaulted. Personally, I dress for myself to make myself feel good and to look good for myself. In no way do I dress for the attention or satisfaction of others. 

In so many cases the victim is blamed for the behaviour of the attacker. Whether this be down to their choice of clothing, how much they had been drinking, who they were with, where they were or how they were acting. None of these factors are a good enough excuse for someone to be raped, in fact there isn’t an excuse, it simply shouldn’t be happening. 

This trial sparked up a lot of anger and frustration, and so in Dublin an exhibition was put on with the clothing of rape victims from the time they were attacked put on display, one item of clothing of display being a Holy Communion dress of a child. Rape victim Leona O’Callaghan attended the exhibition and made a really valid point that there was no clear pattern in the exhibition, and how the clothes on displayed ranged from lingerie to boxer shorts, going out dresses and skirts to work uniform proving that clothes do not matter. The hashtag #ClothesAreNotConsent also went viral on social media and became both a public and political debate.

When will we start supporting our rape victims instead of trying to pin the blame on them? When will we understand that no factor can be used to excuse the behaviour of a rapist? 

I would love to know your thoughts so please comment below. 

Love Always 

AHVB X

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