A gift from me to you, A Handy-Dandy Guide On Things Not To Do If You’re A Cop — Or Anyone — Talking To Women About Sexual Assault When A Serial Rapist Is Afoot:
- Suggest that wearing a skirt, shorts, or dress is just asking for it.
- That’s it.
Unfortunately, the NYPD did not get that memo. Women in areas of Brooklyn — which has been ground zero for a serial rapist/groper throughout the spring, summer and fall — report that NYPD officers have stopped them on the street and offered unsolicited victim-blaming sartorial advice. One 25-year-old who identified herself as Lauren to the Wall Street Journalsaid she was stopped by a cop while wearing shorts. “He pointed at my outfit and said, ‘Don’t you think your shorts are a little short?’” Lauren told the WSJ. “He pointed at [other women's] dresses and said they were showing a lot of skin. He said that such clothing could make the suspect think he had ‘easy access.’”
Oh, for f**k’s sake.
Obviously, this is victim-blaming at its finest. It is true that the rapist(s)/groper(s) is/are targeting women wearing shorts, skirts and dresses. But the problem here is not that women are wearing clothes that reveal their legs — the problem is there is a man groping and raping them. If women want to decide on their own not to wear clothes similar to the ones targeted women have worn, that is their choice. It’s downright paternalistic, however, for the NYPD (or anyone else) to advise women how to dress. We’re not talking about cops suggesting “reasonable safety measures,” like keep your car doors locked. We’re talking about a police office who, on at least one occasion, asked an adult woman, “Don’t you think your shorts are a little short?” as if there’s a certain point at which short-shorts are ‘asking for it.’
It’s unclear whether the NYPD takes seriously how wrong their victim-blaming is; in an email to the WSJ, a police commissioner wrote, “Officers are not telling women what not to wear — there’s a TV series that does that. They are simply pointing out that as part of the pattern involving one or more men that the assailant(s) have targeted women wearing skirts.” Wow, way to punt responsibility!
Now, this may sound unsympathetic or controversial, but I genuinely don’t understand why cops would even suggest women change their outfits at all. It would presumably be a deterrent to the assailant. But it also may mean this guy is never caught and punished for his attacks. If the rapist(s) continues to attack women in skirts, shorts and dresses, his face could be caught on security cameras or he could apprehended by a citizen on the street. To be clear: no one, least of all me, wants more women injured or attacked. I’m just questioning the logic here.
So, anyway, police officers, here’s a reminder about the things that cause rape: rapists.
Yup, that’s it. Just rapists.