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Religious Leaflet Claims “Ungodly” Dressed Women Provoke Rape

Religious Leaflet Claims “Ungodly” Dressed Women Provoke Rape

Today I wore black skinny jeans, tucked into black leather boots, with a navy blue top and a black long cardigan.

I wonder if this outfit would have solicited a leaflet called “Women & Girls” from a complete stranger that claims “ungodly” dressed women provoke rape.

Keshia Canter, a 19-year-old girl working at a fast food drive-through in Bristol, VA was given such a leaflet from customers passing through her window while at work. That day Canter was wearing a pink zebra-print shirt with a black jacket zipped over it and boots pulled up over a pair of jeans.

The woman passing through the drive-through said to Canter, “Even though nothing is showing, you’re being ungodly. You make men want to be sinful,” handing her the religious leaflet as the car drove away.

Here are some of the gems printed in the “Woman & Girls” leaflet:

  • “You may have been given this leaflet because of the way you are dressed. Have you thought about standing before the true and living God to be judged?”
  • “Scripture tells us that when a man looks on a woman to lust for her he has already committed adultery in his heart. If you are dressed in a way that tempts a men to do this secret (or not so secret) sin, you are a participant in the sin.”
  • “By the way, some rape victims would not have been raped if they had dressed properly. So can we really say they were innocent victims?”

That last one really says it all in the what’s worst in victim-blaming game. Too bad the victim-blaming game plays with women when they are at their most vulnerable, often keeping them from reporting crimes or ever bringing them to trial. Fearful that they will be judge and blamed for what happened silences too many women from seeking justice for the crimes committed against them.

Sandra G. Rasnake, the sexual assault program director at Bristol’s Crisis Center, points to another reason victim-blaming is so popular that I pointed out in a post I wrote a few weeks back about a poll in the UK that found women blame victims for being raped – the defense mechanism. People often use the she asked for it excuses to distance themselves from the idea that it could have happened to them.

“Blaming victims is the way we who have not been victimized feel safer,” Rasnake told the Bristol Herald Courier. “If it’s their fault then I’m safer because I wouldn’t do that. If someone steals your purse, can you imagine someone asking why you had a purse? If you are sexually assaulted, it is not because you come with breasts.”

She also points out that these excuses are insulting to men, claiming that they cannot control themselves when they see a woman in a short skirt or plugging neckline. If I were a man I’d certainty be insulted and as a woman who has fortunately never been raped I’m angered by excuses that would place blame on me for something I never ever want to happen to me.

I’ve said it before and I knew I’d have to say it again: A woman is never responsible for being raped, never.

Blaming a woman’s skirt, dress, or shoes does nothing but redirect blame that should be placed squarely on the rapist.

I don’t understand why we are so afraid of blaming rapists for the crimes they commit? Does it make it scarier to say that someone forced a woman to have sex with them against her will? Does it make it scarier to say that a woman repeatedly refused and fought back but was unsuccessful?

Of course it does, but rape is a very real, scary thing.  It might make us feel safer to place blame elsewhere, but what does that do to women who aren’t as lucky as me who have lived through being raped?

What did you wear today? Would you have passed the “Women & Girls” leaflet test?

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Photo by einalem used with a Creative Commons license.

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377 comments

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10:48AM PST on Feb 2, 2011

the young woman who may be accosted by a leaflet bearer can respond with, "i bet i look better in my well fitting jeans than you do in your birthday suit"

9:22AM PST on Feb 2, 2011

There are 2 more petitions on this page that help explain how this nation objectifies women.. if we are objects we don't have opinions right.. just like a piece of dirt..hmm is this male dominated society trying to tell women something? here are 2 more petitions that help validate this concept: PETA's New "Super Bowl Ad" Demeans Women and
Sex Trafficking Expected to Skyrocket During Super Bowl

7:38AM PST on Feb 2, 2011

The 'god' of organized religion... male, sexual, judgmental, greedy, murderous, bossy

7:18AM PST on Feb 2, 2011

go to christwire.org and see what the religious incorrect are spreading... send them a message of reason.

10:44AM PDT on Mar 30, 2010

This is why I don't follow any religion. These people think they know what God wants, like God talks to them. If some "woman" ever handed me a leaflet like that, I would rip up the leaflet and throw it back in her face. Then I would ship her to Saudi Arabia to live for a while and see if she still feels the same way. I mean really, babies are born naked, does that mean they are asking to be raped? Get over it!

12:52PM PDT on Mar 23, 2010

I am a man. When I see a woman I appreciate, even admire, her appearance. If she is dressed provocatively I may even become aroused.
However, rape is not about sex. Rape is about violence. Rape is about subjugation and control. Rape is about forcing your will upon another. None of these things would be considered by any real man.

6:19AM PDT on Mar 15, 2010

This is utterly laughable! No wonder religions are losing members - they're are losing touch with the world. No matter what a woman wears, IT IS NO INVITATION TO ANY MAN TO RAPE HER. We may not always agree with what others wear, but that is not a licence to be raped or judge them in anyway.
Blame the rapist, not the victim!

1:55PM PST on Mar 13, 2010

Whatever happened to judge not lest ye be judge, and does this women see men as horny creatures that lose their minds whenever they see.............................well she wasn't even showing any cleavage so i don't kow what to say!

11:23AM PST on Mar 12, 2010

Gina, I agree with you ,but we can't stoop to their level .Remember ,just be ,the God loving person you are ,People always wonder what you're up to ,when you're ,smiling ,God loves us all.,But I'm happy in my heart ,and I know , I feel better without the hate these unhappy rightous blow hards do ! keep the joy in your life.

10:10AM PST on Mar 12, 2010

Once again we hear from the fringe crazy Christians. I would love to hand out leaflets that tell them what nuts they are and would Christ approve of their hatefilled lives. Since they are so willing to be a$$holes about it, it is really time to do something. Brainwashed fools, they need guidance.

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