close
Society

The Bullshit Attitude Towards Women And Sex

Melbourne was grim at the end of September. On the morning of September 28, Victoria Police announced that the body of missing Brunswick woman, Jill Meagher, had been found and a man has been formally charged with her rape and murder. This story has resonated with women all over Australia because of the terrifying reality that it could have been any of us.  Nearly every woman has taken a risk on a potentially unsafe situation- walked home alone in the dark or ignored an instinct that someone might be a bit dodgy. For most, the risk of harm never eventuates; we get home safely and breathe a sigh of relief. Tragically, Jill was not so lucky. The ordinariness of the circumstances she was in, and the fact that it happened in our city, has led to an unprecedented public outpouring of grief and a shiver down the collective spine of Melbourne.

Yet despite the fact that so many women can relate to the situation Jill Meagher found herself in, the victim blaming in this case has been unrelenting. The real issue, according to many internet trolls and radio shock jocks, was that Jill was “drinking/staying out late/talking to strangers who weren’t her husband/wearing suggestive clothing/walking while female/having a vagina,” as put by writer Clementine Ford. This attitude is not new. From a sheikh likening women to ‘uncovered pieces of meat’ a few years ago, to the more recent statements by US Senator Todd Akins categorizing some incidences of rape as ‘legitimate’ and others as not, blaming women for sexual violence directed towards them is still infuriatingly prevalent.

The culture of victim blaming is based on the view that women are not sexually autonomous beings. Apparently, instead of actively choosing who to have sexual relations with, a woman’s passive actions demonstrate her consent. You’d think that in the 21st century, after two waves of feminism, there would be no question about the absurdity of that notion. But the fact that the rape and murder of a woman leads to any suggestion that it was her own fault shows that disturbing, misogynistic judgments still echo in the present day.

The judgment is not limited to sexual violence. Any aspect of a woman’s sex life is fair game and definitive of her entire moral worth. Too few sexual partners, you’re a frigid bitch. Too many and you’re definitely a slut, whore or hoe. If you change your mind about someone after flirting with them, you’re a cock tease. How dare you! How dare you think it’s okay to sleep with as few or as many people as you like, to be able to assert control over who enters your personal space, without fear of judgment or reprimand.

Not allowed. You’re a woman. Didn’t you get the memo?

Anika Baset

The author Anika Baset

Leave a Response