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Campaign reaction

It's not about skirts stupid ! !

It's not about skirts stupid !!
I have two sons and two daughters who are young and single and as a mother would defend each of their rights to go out dressed as they please which they do !! I really do think that in this day and age there can be few young people who hold such unenlightened views that skirt length or style have anything to do with the act of rape. Surely we've moved on from this unreconstructed view and should give more credit to our young Scottish men than to stereotype them all as slavering sexual predators. I am extremely worried about the demonising of men and the corresponding infantilising of women that is in danger of converging around this complex discussion of rape laws and the issue of consent. And I speak from the experience of a circumstance which traumatised my family several years ago when my son was charged with rape as a result of a sexual encounter he had with a girl in Glasgow city centre on a Saturday night. He believed the sex was consensual and it was around this complex issue of consent that he was interviewed by police and initially charged. The case was dropped although the stigma and trauma remains with him to this day and a horrible sense of injustice that proof of consent came down to his word against hers and the odds felt stacked against him because he is a man. He could neither hide behind the cloak of anonymity or victimhood and as his mother I struggled to reconcile my own modern views on the rights of rape victims with my son's battle to convince others of his innocence. I have now done a lot of reading and soul-searching on this issue and am extremely worried by the limiting aspects of this campaign. It's about a lot more than skirts although I expect that's an easy message to get across rather it may be about educating a whole society about sexual behaviours and consequences.
Crucially I believe that in the cold and sober light of dawn there are many men and women who subsequently regret opportunistic sexual encounters and there is a real danger that regret and embarrassment about uninhibited and alcohol induced sex acts can lead to misleading claims and counter claims around the issue of consent. Many people hold that false rape claims are a myth and indeed I would agree that few women would deliberately and knowingly falsify evidence to get a man charged. However, given social attitudes to sexual behaviour there are consequences for many young women (and some young men) if they arrive home in the early hours, still half inebriated and in a dishevelled state to anxious parents who quite rightly may demand an explanation as to there whereabouts and conduct. In such circumstances it's hardly surprising that some youngsters will look to exonerate themselves from responsibility for their own behaviour and even today there are few girls who'll come home from a night out and feel it's acceptable to tell mum and dad they were having sex in the park with a guy they'd just met. It is at this point that personal responsibility for one's own actions comes into play and whether you are male or female or however you choose to dress is not the issue. Rather it's about making decisions and choices you can live with tomorrow and if you can't and you end up regretting those decisions then that's a lesson in life too to do with self knowledge, self control and boundaries and it's a lesson equally applicable to both sexes. You can't duck these issues by hiding behind the victim cloak that's as much an abuse of the justice system as the women blaming "she led me on" syndrome. Sadly, it seems to me that this campaign is in danger of replacing one set of myths and stereotypes on rape with another which is equally limiting and unhelpful.

Author: mum, Female, glasgow
Date: 08/07/2010

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Replies to this post

I can understand your wishing to defend your son but I don't think that should in any way detract from the message that this campaign is trying to put across. It doesn't demonise men in any way, it merely asks a question of both men and women to examine their attitudes about rape. It's not infantalising women either to put the message out there that rape is not our fault, that we're not asking for it. I hope what gets emphasised is that men have to take more responsibility. That's not demonising, it's just a reflection of the reality of the current situation in which women are still held responsible for being the victims of a terrible crime.
We don't have these debates about any other crimes.
Given the hell women have to go through when they report rape, that they are often not believed, that they are often made to feel that they are somehow to blame, that cases most often don't get to court and then conviction rates are a joke, i think it's highly unlikely that many of us randomly make up allegations.
As for enlightened young people and stereotypes about young men, i think you may have missed a lot of the recent research about people's attitudes which places lots of people the bracket of believing many of the rape myths that are so damaging to women.
You're right about behaviour and consequences, unfortunately it's womens behaviour that is most often questioned and women that have to live with the consequences for the rest of our lives after experiencing sexual violence.

Author: shelly, Female, scotland
Date: 09/07/2010

You know, at the end of the day we can all find personal experience or research to support or condemn anything. However, something which is absolutely consistently reported is that public attitude surveys highlight an inherent belief from men AND women that somehow or other women can still be held accountable (even partly) for rape simply because of how they dress.
This campaign, however, is not about skirts - lengths, sparkliness, colour, whatever - it's about attitudes. Anybody who gets caught up in the 'it's about a skirt' message is missing the point completely.
I think it's a brilliant campaign - not least because it has generated so much discussion and debate.
As the mother of two girls, and having experienced a sexual assault myself in my teenage years, I am understandably concerned about what my children will experience.
Long may these campaigns continue because they not only empower women, they are so strategically placed (during football matches - well done!), that ultimatley the male population will also be influenced.

Author: Cynthia, Female, Livingston
Date: 14/07/2010

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“Rape seems to be the only crime where it's seen as ok to put the victim on trial.”

Natasha, Female from Glasgow

“Short skirts don't cause rape. Rapists cause rape”

Joss, Female from Connecticut

“About time something like this was shown on TV. Hopefully it will make everyone realise there cannot be any excuse for rape - EVER.”

Helzo, Female from Renfrewshire