How Not to Get Raped in The Netherlands

Whilst casually browsing the interwebs the other day I came across an article that left me dumbfounded. According to the Telegraaf newspaper (I use the term ‘newspaper’ loosely here) the majority of Dutch boys and men between the ages of twelve and twenty-four believe that women incite men to sexually assault, rape or otherwise harass them by dressing in a sexually seductive manner. One quote that was used was “if you are wearing a mini skirt then aren’t you asking for it?”. This is very thin ice to be skating on in my opinion. It says a lot about how even today, in The Netherlands, a society many consider to be largely emancipated and where equality and freedom of speech for persons of every sex, race or religious conviction are thought to be held in high regard, ignorance and discrimination are still deeply ingrained in public opinion. There is still the unfounded belief that the way a woman dresses, or the lifestyle she chooses, are somehow an invitation to sexual harassment. Even when a woman is raped and violated against her will, she is somehow culpable as she must have been “asking for it” by wearing revealing clothing, drinking or being promiscuous.

 

Slutwalk in London
Slutwalk in London

 

It is scary to think that though it is now outrageous to consider darker skinned people to be lazy, physically handicapped people to be mentally retarded, Jews to be greedy and have big noses or heck, I don’t know planet Earth to be flat, it is apparently STILL okay to consider women who wear short skirts to be deliberately seeking sexual attention or worse from men.

 

Attention whores - Yes. Asking to be raped - No.
Attention whores – Yes. Asking to be raped – No.

 

Though rape and sexual harassment are things that are not exclusive to women, the problem I have with the afore mentioned statistics is that the attitude society has towards women in general and of how we treat the victims of these horrific crimes in general, is as though they were standing trial for their character. This attitude does seem to be exclusive to women.

Oh wait this article is about something entirely different...
Oh wait this article is about something entirely different…

 

Though not many of the men and boys who filled in the questionnaire would probably go so far as to say that they believe a woman deserves to be raped because of the clothing she wears (or lack of it), it does illustrate the deep-seated belief that is still widely held by men not just in The Netherlands, but worldwide, that women apparently are responsible for the way they are treated by men. This is one reason why so few women come forward and report being sexually assaulted or raped – the character assassination that follows. Can you imagine the victim of a burglary having to defend the fact that he or she had visible signs of wealth in their house or on their person? That by having a nice car you were “asking for it” to be stolen? That this person would be scolded for going out for dinner, thereby leaving their house with their flatscreen TV and laptop carelessly unattended, just taunting the burglar to come in and take it all, even though it wasn’t theirs to take?

There is no correlation what-so-ever between the clothing a woman wears and the likelihood of her being raped.
(Unlike the recent evidence that suggests a correlation between the size of a man’s testicles and the likelihood of him being promiscuous – but that is just a side note.)

In fact, most women are raped in their home or workplace. Ninety percent of rapes are in fact committed by someone who is known to the victim. Attractiveness is not a factor, vulnerability is. Telling women that if only they would dress modestly and not go out at night by themselves, then they would be safe from rape, is utter stupidity bordering on dangerous. In Egypt there are women wearing a full Niqab (face covering veil) who still, are sexually assaulted.

So tell me, what kind of invisibility cloak do female victims of sexual assault have to put on, in order to prevent men, and worst of all – other women, from holding them personally responsible for being attacked?

 

Reverse Psychology
Reverse Psychology

 

What’s clear is that rape and sexual harassment of women seems to be endemic in our society across the globe. The only thing we can do to combat prejudice, is to raise awareness of the real issues at hand and educate both women and men. One way to contribute is to participate in BBC World’s 100 Women discussion, the prelude to the 100 Women conference (Friday 25th October 2013, BBC Radio Theatre, Broadcasting House, London).

For further viewing:

 

 

 

 

Anna Lambregts
Contemporary politics, modern history, human rights, fashion, art and music are some of the subjects that can really get Anna Lambregts ranting. Being half Dutch and half Scottish and having grown up in the international community she hopes to inspire readers to broaden their horizons and raise awareness about issues she is passionate about.

21 COMMENTS

  1. There are things that should be and are. If I leave my car open with the keys in it, I think people should respect it and not steal my car… I also think guys should respect women, but on the other hand I do think some things (revealing cloths for instance) make it more likely for a woman to be raped.

    • Just because you think it doesn’t mean that it’s factually true. Statistics prove that the way a woman dresses is NOT a factor in how likely she is to be raped. The car analogy is too simple. We are warning young women about the wrong things. Dressing modestly will not stop you from being raped, pure and simple.

      • Ok, point taken, and I should have read the article instead of browsing. I guess it’s just near to impossible as to what goes on in a rapists mind.

        • I wish more Internet discussions had people who are willing to admit when they made an honest mistake.

          Personally, I don’t think it’s so much a question of what goes on in the mind of a rapist; but rather about what is NOT going on in there. What a rapist shares with any other person is sexual desire; what separates the rapist from another is the lack of empathy and/or self-control.

          • Often it’s not even about the rapist’s sexual desire/need but about control and wanting to have power over another human being.

          • Yes with this comment by adding new prospect of rapist’s mind you did prove Vincent’s point to be true,
            it’s just near to impossible as to what exactly goes on in a rapists mind.

          • Actually there have been plenty of studies as to what goes on in a rapists mind and what motivates them to do what they do – and it isn’t the victim’s clothing.

          • Well there have been many cases as well where rapists admitted themselves that they were enticed by the victim’s clothing, i don’t think you can completely rule out the possibility of victim’s clothing.

    • Vincent, the exact opposite of what you say is actually true. As Anna pointed out in this article: rapists are looking for signs of vulnerability, not so much attractiveness. Studies has shown that women who wear revealing or provoking clothes are in fact less likely to be raped.
      I feel uncomfortable just typing this, but the fact is that a rapist is not a picky person. They don’t care much about looks, they are simply looking for what they think will be an easy victim.

  2. A friend of mine organized a slut walk I while back in 2011 at the Westerkerk. It was actually pretty popular and successfully trying to make the same point you are making. A woman can never be blamed for getting raped regardless of what they are wearing or how they are acting! GO ANNA!!!!

  3. Great article Anna. It’s infuriating and sad to think that some people, men and women, think that someone deserves to be raped because of the way they dress. It doesn’t matter if she (or he for that matter) walks around naked on the street, it doesn’t mean she wants to fuck you. To force her to have sex is a disgusting violation against her basic human right to choose her sexual partner. We live in a society where “rape culture” is accepted (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture), at least in the United States and Canada. In fact, Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, a song that gets grossly overplayed in the Netherlands and elsewhere, is used as an example of how we’ve adopted rape culture. In the States, there are a lot of stories in the news about groups of young boys/men sexually violating women at parties and then posting pictures on facebook to gloat about what they had just done. And in their minds, because the girl in question was drunk and/or “acting like a slut”, it justifies their deplorable and twisted behaviour.

    • Unfortunately that is the sad reality. I didn’t know that about Blurred Lines by the way! Women in popular culture are increasingly objectified, even people who mean well and make comments like ‘that’s somebody’s mother/sister/daughter’ are party to it – instead of a person who in their own right should not be violated without having to ‘belong’ to someone else before we can empathise with what has happened to her.

      • Just realised my last sentence is a little iffy, what I mean to say was: People who express sympathy (often online) at violence against women often use the phrase “that’s someone’s mother/sister/daughter/wife”, this always gets me as in my mind it implies the woman is seen as a posession and the sympathy goes out to whoever she ‘belongs’ to. Instead of just sympathising with HER.

  4. 30% of the women in Holland don’t mind being seen as a ‘lustobject’ by men. That was revealed last week. I just say…..

    • You’re right, I think it says that in the first article I referred to in the Telegraaf! People hold some strange convictions in this world…That being said, if we’re talking statistics and stupid people, it’s still not as bad as the 2% of the American public that thought Mitt Romney’s real first name was ‘Mittens’….

  5. “Though rape and sexual harassment are things that are not exclusive to women, … how we treat the victims of these horrific crimes in general, is as though they were standing trial for their character. This attitudedoes seem to be exclusive to women.”

    It is quite a pernicious myth that women are the only ones to suffer from victim-blaming. Imagine hearing a story about a man who has been attacked while walking late somewhere. The first assumption of many is that he must have been up to no good. How about a man glassed in the face in a bar on a night out? He was probably drunk and being provocative or engaging in a fight. Right? How about a man attacked or murdered by his partner? She must have been defending herself against *his* abuse. If you actually stop to see things from a male perspective (something that is basically outlawed at present), you will see that just as much, if not more of the problems women have, men also have.

    Let’s take it a bit more literally with regards to the subject at hand: slut walks. Imagine a male slut-walk. What might it look like? Imagine a man in tight leather shorts, a leather shirt and a leather cap and boots. Another man in rubber fetish gear and another dressed like a Chippendale stripper. They go out on a Saturday night into a town centre where drunk women are congregating. Do you really think they can do this without the risk of being groped by excited harpies? Now imagine the men walking home through a rough neighbourhood full of sketchy characters. Do you think they might suffer verbal abuse? Possibly be beaten up if they go down the wrong alley? Women are not the only people who cannot walk around dressed like prostitutes with zero ramifications. And do you really think that when these men regale their stories of how a woman put her hand down his pants or slapped his bum, or how someone spat on them for dressing like gimps, they will get any response other than “well, you kind of had it coming didn’t you?”. No, apparently, this can only happen to a woman!

    The big difference is that men rarely choose to dress up like this, either for leisure, or in the office as some women do. It may sound prudish, but dressing like a slut in the workplace should be considered tantamount to sexual harassment of the gynephillic (heterosexual male and homosexual female) people who share that workplace. Just like trying to control a recovering drug addict by offering them drugs, it is a way of exercising power over other people for sinister reasons. But of course, our feminist overladies insist that it is the person who is having their sexuality provoked and abused that is at fault. In a society that values genuine equality, sexual harassment should consider the differences between male and female sexuality and protect them *both*.

  6. Anna, I have a very good friend that was raped at her job in Rotterdam. Is there place or number she can contact for help/support besides the police?

  7. There is, quite literally, nothing a person can do to INCITE rape. We are not mindless animals, there is no such thing as inciting rape – Rape is wrong, nothing justifies it, end of discussion. To think there is even a debate is chilling, and saddening.

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