I recently was asked to speak to a group of high school girls about violence against women. As I got dressed for this speaking engagement, I decided on a whim to do something I had never done before. I would layer my clothing so that I would reveal a strapless dress underneath my maxi dress and reiterate one of the most common rape myths out there — that women “invite” assault by dressing a certain way. The fact is that no one has ever been able to show a correlation between how a victim dresses and her chances of sexual assault. Women get sexually assaulted because the male wants to dominate and control the victim. It is not an act of impulsive, uncontrolled passion; rather a premeditated act of violence. Research shows that 50% of rapes are planned; and in my case it was definitely a premeditated violent crime. Over the years, I too have been asked dozens of times what clothing I had on.
Katherine Cambareri, a young photographer from Arcadia University, has done an excellent job showing that sexual assault has nothing to do with the clothes a woman wears in her “Well what were you wearing” series. I applaud her for keeping the conversation going regarding this topic.
And, if you were wondering, I was wearing a below-the-knee black and white skirt with matching blouse.