Student dress codes are a controversial topic, but there is no justification at all for blaming a rape victim for the way she was dressed. While arguing in favor of a dress code for Florida students, Republican State Representative Kathleen Passidomo referenced the 11-year-old Cleveland, Texas, girl who was gang raped by 18 men in November and whose ordeal was recently reported in The New York Times. Passidomo said:
“There was an article about an 11-year-old girl who was gang raped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute. And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it’s incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn’t happen to our students.”
Oh. Hell. No.Let me be clear: I don’t believe parents should allow their children to be sexualized for other kids and for adults. There’s a big difference between “dress up clothes” at home and going to school/the movies/whatever dressed like you’re DTF. Obviously as teenagers get older they should make their own decisions about how they dress. However, allowing or encouraging children and tweens to dress in a sexually alluring or “slutty” way — if that’s what you want to call it — is plain old bad parenting in my book. Let children be children.
As we all know from the victim-blamingNY Times article about the Texas gang rape, the 11-year-old victim dressed “older,” wore makeup and hung out with older boys and men. To me, the fact that an 11-year-old child was taken by older guys to a house and trailer and raped repeatedly by 18 different dudes — from middle schoolers to a damn 27-year-old — tells me that we live in a culture that values some females so little that she was a piece of garbage to these guys and not a human being. But to some people, the fact she was a little girl in makeup and provocative outfits means she had it coming.
That ignorant comments like this are coming from the mouth of an elected official is just plain sad. Doesn’t Rep. Passidomo know that even prostitutes can be raped, too? Doesn’t she know nuns can be raped, too? Sexual abuse and sexual assault are about power, not sexual attraction. The biggest rape myth of all is that men are so lustful and unable to control their libidos that women must keep themselves covered so as not to tempt them. By that mythical logic, any woman or girl who isn’t covered up like Laura Ingalls Wilder is consenting to anything a man wants. But as any rape victim or woman who has experienced street harassment will tell you, that’s not consent.
No one is disagreeing that a 6th grader should dress like a 6th grader (whatever that means these days). Just don’t go excusing sexual abuse and sexual assault while you try to make that point.