If we discussed men the same way that we talk about women…

(Thousands of women come out on the streets to protest via SlutWalks, after a Toronto constable suggests that women could protect themselves better by not dressing like sluts.)

“Of course he’s a rapist, did you see the trousers he was wearing? And that vest? Why would a man wear that kind of clothing if he wasn’t out cruising for a victim?”

“The give away is the brand of jeans. If you see a bunch of guys walking down the road wearing Levis or Diesels, it’s all right, they’re not going to rape you. Other brands—well, I’d be careful. Just saying. You never know what a man wearing another kind of brand is thinking.”

“We always suspected he was a rapist. He’d leave the house every day wearing pajama-kurta—it’s obvious now that he didn’t want to waste time undoing buttons and zips.”

“According to police experts, women should be careful around men in tight jeans. Men in tight jeans are showcasing their sexuality and drawing attention to the power of their libido. Women should also be careful around men in loose jeans. Men in loose jeans have something to conceal, and may either be covering up an excess of sexuality or compensating for feelings of inadequacy. Many experts caution that men who wear pajama-kurta, shalwar-kameez, dhotis or lungis are subliminally indicating intent to rape, because these clothes are less restricting than Western wear.
Men in business suits, say some studies, are considered high risk because they are already accustomed to wielding power and carrying out certain forms of corporate violence. And women should stay far away from men in shorts, boxers and swimming trunks, who are sending out signals that rape would be expedient and easy for them. Police experts on rape suggest that in order to avoid becoming rapists, men should stay at home, not venture out after dark and dress in several layers of clothes—four pairs of jeans, six pairs of shorts—to indicate their willingness to support women’s rights and their intent never to rape.”

But these are things we never do. We never look at male behaviour; it’s always the women in the spotlight. We never ask questions about what makes men think they have the right to rape, or to harass; we never look at what a man’s wearing when he whistles at, or grabs, or attacks, or assaults, a woman; we never demand that men change their behaviour, their attitudes, their habits; we never shame rapists the way we shame the raped.

29 comments

  1. Powerful piece, Nilanjana. I really appreciate how you have channeled your anger to smoke out the absurd and ridiculous everyday attitudes towards violence against women.Thank you for writing this.Natasha

  2. As a male, i find it difficult to agree with. Specially given that i prefer to wear cotton pyjamas during the summers.. 🙂 yeah– thinking hard now- dont think u can identify a sexually aggressive male through what he wears..

  3. You are looking for a symmetry that does not exist. The man is the aggressor here, the woman the victim. Since the roles are different, the attitudes to them will be different.

  4. I couldn't agree with you more about how wrong it is to tell any woman she asked for it by dressing a certain way. However, I must say I don't quite agree with the fact that we don't stereotype men in the ways you have illustrated. There's a lot of class + sexuality based stereotyping in there that we know we're subject to. As women, we'd feel more uncomfortable walking through a slum than we will through, say, a GK market. Why do you think that is?

  5. …don't forget non-clothes related strictures. A modest proposal: men should not drink in public, especially to excess, as they make themselves vulnerable to commiting acts of sexual violence, nor, when out late at night, should they leave brightly lit streets, in case the privacy of a sidestreet allow an incident to occur.

  6. so relevant.. And i disagree completely with Anish. the post underscores the ridiculousness of the manner in which rape/molestation is blamed on the woman. dipti

  7. LOL!! add to that these points too- 1.Men who wear dark glasses or hats/turbans/head-dress of any kind, have beards and mustaches are profiled as having intent to rape or leer or cop a feel. The advantage of having their faces disguised or …not really seen makes it easy for them to do so. 2. Beware of men driving big vehicles, like vans, jeeps, hummers etc…they have a lot of space in their vehicles to perpetuate the said crimes.In conclusion we can only trust men who are Bald without facial hair, have no need for dark glasses or loose fitting clothes or suits or sportswear, have two wheelers that dont go faster than 20 km/hour or are not walking towards you.Alright, Jokes aside. Kudos to you for writing this view. Most Men do not understand how it is to walk in a woman's shoes. It would be such a wonderful world, if Human Beings understood and accepted that Men and Women are complementary players in the game of Existence not Masters/Slaves, Victim/Aggressor, Buyer/Seller/commodity of one another; if Women were treated by Men with respect, fairness and understanding, in the same way Men expect to be treated. Lip-service just doesnt cut it anymore.

  8. brilliant view point. Also, every day we have news about girls under the age of 5yrs and even as small as 3 days old being raped and murdered (1/2 the abuse cases are not even reported in a country like India). Someone pls explain what on earth could these infants and toddlers be doing to encourage their rape.

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