The Slut Walk: How Dress is Linked to the Hookup Culture

by Danelle on November 13, 2014 · 0 comments

Take a look at this video from CNN.

It’s called the “Slut Walk,” and it is for women who believe that the way they dress has little to do with sexual actions or rape. They also seek to reclaim the word “slut” as just a way to dress and nothing else.

 

Before I dive in, let me offer a very clear disclaimer: I am not excusing rape in any way – merely pointing out that the hook up culture and sexual culture itself has almost everything to do with the way a girl dresses and within that culture, rape can occur. So to deny that there is a correlation is not going to help stop women being viewed as objects or abused.

Ok, now let’s get started.

Admittedly, I had mixed feelings when I watched this video.  I agree that the way a woman dresses should not be judged, let alone become an excuse for rape. Rape is always the fault of the person who forces sex on another or does not listen to the word “no.” The victim does not deserve rape because of how she dresses. Sadly, however, the way a woman dresses is usually associated with certain actions – sexual acts to be specific – through the lens of a man. The hook-up culture on campus makes that dreadfully clear.

Some women of past generations may not believe dress and hookups are linked. However, I can tell you there is at least a correlation, not only because there is data to support it (especially in Laura Sessions Stepp’s book Unhooked), but also from experience as a campus student who witnesses the hookup culture around me. When I lived in dorms on campus, I did not see girls in cardigans, pants, and tennis shoes walking out of guys’ rooms at night.

The extremely scary part is that within the hookup culture, “gray rape” happens when hooking up is taken past the point a partner wants. Both people involved are usually drunk and both want to hookup. The problem lies in the fact that the inherent definition of a “hookup” is fuzzy. So when a girl finds a guy she thinks is cute, she will go back to his place to hookup. Alternatively, the guy sees the way the girl dresses and pursues her as well. He believes that she wants to hookup because of the way she looks, and so essentially, the way a girl dresses and acts lets a guy know if she is the type that would hookup. Actions and dress could stand alone, but in the hookup culture, that is usually not the case. Girls dress revealingly to snag guys and hookup. That is the way the game is played.

The sad part is that rape is a risk of hooking up due to its “gray” definition. I still do not think the girl is to blame. Rape is never excusable, but I think this student from GW in the book Unhooked sums things up well.

I feel that it is a woman’s responsibility to look after herself and not get into a position where she is uncomfortable or loses control. You can’t operate on the assumption that if you want things to stop, the person you are with will respect that. In an ideal world, that would be the case. But we don’t live in an ideal world. There are a lot of assholes out there – people who aren’t going to care if you change your mind once the clothes have come off. If you make the choice to leave the bar with the guy, then you are also creating the opportunity for something to go wrong – I think that is the point that needs to be driven home to everyone who participates in the hookup culture. Yes, you can practice safe sex. Yes, you can have sex without strings. But this isn’t a behavior that doesn’t carry risk.

The risk of rape from hooking up is there and girls need to be more aware of it before they decide to hookup.  The bottom line is that ignoring the way girls dress and act will not make the hookup culture go away. I feel both sides of the aisle – and most feminists – will agree that the hookup culture is not healthy. Also, girls making themselves an object for guys to look at (by the way they dress) and eventually hookup with is not healthy either. It not only degrades the girl, but it makes the line between being used for a hookup and being raped frighteningly thin.

The women who participate in the “Slut Walk” are not walking for an empowering cause. I salute them for walking to end rape, but that’s not their sole mission. The “Slut Walk” only furthers a culture of women being objectified, and that is not a worthy cause for any woman.

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