Activist Communiqué

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Krystalline Kraus is an intrepid journalist and veteran reporter for rabble.ca since its 2001 beginnings. She needs neither a red cape nor safety goggles to fly into her latest political assignment. She often live-tweets from events -- almost exclusively First Nations and environmental issues. You can follow her on Twitter @krystalline_k.

Activist Communique: Best advice ever to avoid rape? 'Don't dress like a slut'

| February 17, 2011
Activist Communique: Best advice ever to avoid rape? 'Don't dress like a slut'

Is "don't dress like a slut" the best advice that Toronto police officers from 31 Division can give women?

Hell, with "community allies" like these, who needs enemies?

And by "community allies", I mean the Toronto police giving advice on how women can keep safe from sexual assault.

On January 24, 2011, a campus safety information session was held at York University, Osgoode Hall with York security and two male officers from Toronto police 31 Division. Constable Michael Sanguinetti suggested that one way for women to protect themselves from sexual assault was to not to dress like a slut.

According to Ronda Bessner, an Osgoode assistant dean of the Juris Doctor Program, who attended the session: "One of the safety tips was for women not to dress like 'sluts.' Constable Sanguinetti said something like, 'I've been told I shouldn't say this,' and then he uttered the words."

Bressner, on behalf of students and staff who attended the campus safety session, has approached the Toronto Police Service seeking an apology. 

In response, Toronto police spokesperson Constable Wendy Drummond said, "[This is] definitely something that we take very seriously. This matter [...] has been brought to the attention of our professional standards unit and is something we will be looking into."

UPDATED: Toronto police report that Constable Michael Sanguinetti - who made the comment - will be disciplined for his comments, though the type and severity of the discipline was not disclosed. He will also apologize for his comments, though to whom he would apologize through a letter. I'm note sure why it took so long to get an apology since the comment was made back on January 24.

There are many different issues at play here but I will focus on the dynamic of a male police officer dispensing advice on what to do if a woman is raped and referring to that woman as a 'slut'.

This type of behaviour could easily dissuade a vicitim of sexual assault from coming forward to report the incedent to the police; isn't it hard enough to speak up without wondering what the police officer is thinking as he/she records the specifics of the crime (thinking you're a "slut")? Rapes are statistically  under-reported to the authorities.

According to facts found on the Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit webpage (please note how old these statistics are; I wonder why this page has not been updated?): "Sexual assault is a vastly under-reported crime. According to Statistics Canada, only 6% of all sexual assaults are reported to police.

In one study, women gave the following reasons for not reporting incidents of sexual assault:

-- belief that the police could do nothing about it (50% of women gave this reason);

--concern about the attitude of both police and the courts toward sexual assault (44%);

--fear of another assault by the offender (33%);

-- fear and shame (64%)."

Another important point to note here is that it seems by the conduct of the officer who spoke the words that there was some mechanism in his brain that very briefly stopped him from referring to female victims of sexual assault as  "sluts", but he went ahead and spoke his mind anyway as if he thought he would not reprimanded for such language or conduct.

It is such mysoginistic comments that are front-loaded with the all-familiar 'but' that women face every day. In fact, and as painful as this might be, I wish such mysoginists would just forgo the 'but' like it's some harm-prevention mechanism and just be honest about what they feel so we can honestly begin to confront the problem.  

I would like to direct people to a wonderful series: Don't Rape, Part I -- Society teaches 'Don't get raped' rather than 'Don't rape'  

[Disclaimer: Some scenes in this story may be triggering for people who have experienced sexual assault.]

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There will be many extra forms needed once employing a non-public company for process. additionally to the DS-4085 government kind, the record holder should passbook complete a document that authorizes the corporate to act on behalf of the individual. candidates WHO request process inside seven business days or less should submit a duplicate of the flight itinerary, airline price tag, or leader mobile marketing authorization letter. Any of those can function proof that the record holder has immediate travel plans.

Catchfire:  You are wrong.  Men rape due to a combination of sexual desire, power to do so, and pathology. 

The statement that men rape because it is a "power crime" is obviously popularly misunderstood.  The "power" nature of the crime is that they rape because they can, as opposed to simply hiring a prostitute for the express purpose of degrading -- which of course men DO contract for, but is less spontaneous.  This is the pathology, and that is the component that is about power.

But then why rape at all?  If it were solely about power, men wouldn't need to stalk women to rape them, they would just frighten them or otherwise assault them.  They rape them because the offender's sexual desire is consistent with the sexual component of rape.

Addendum:  Of course some men use rape as a weapon, so SOME rapists are purely about power and the sexual component is confused in those individuals, but the vast majority of rape is initiated primarily out of some sexual desire or sexual frustration.  You can choose to ignore this, but if you have a teenaged daughter who may be hanging around a male who shows signs of self-control issues, then you should understand why it's important to acknowledge all of the initiator characteristics of rape instead of living in some politically correct world.

Rape has nothing to so with sexual desire. Rape has nothing to do with sexual desire.

M. Spector:  Due process begins with the police, by legal definition.  For example, they may not detain arbitrarily.  On the flip side, the officer is a member of union and entitled toa  complex system to deal with this situation.  It is a matter of moral abrasion to fire someone without honouring collective bargaining agreements.  Also, as the judge in Winnipeg so astutely made my case: given the opportunity, anyone is willing to make himself/herself look like an idiot if it's based on ideological perspective.  You perhaps underestimate the human condition.

OfficeSupporter:  I am not on your side.  You sound like the Winnipeg judge who said jail wasn't warranted because "sex was in the air" and the victim wanted to party.  Women, even if slutty by your standards don't go out expecting to be raped.  Rape, as an assault against the person is not subject to moderating circumstances.  Regardless, women are responsible for their own lives, and if they don't want to be the target of crime, they may choose not to attract unwanted attention.  There is a sharp distinction between the two ideas.

Rebecca:  Targets of rape, despite the attribute of it being a power and control crime, are still primarily selected by sexual desire, and as such, a woman's appearance plays a significant role in the selection process of the rapist.  There is a difference between saying a women is asking for it, and saying a rapist is looking for it.  For the purpose of this discussion, as we are not at war, and burkas are not mandatory, sexual attraction for a rapist is a material matter.

In wartime, rape is used as a weapon against women, and very young girls.  Sensibly dressed women well into their 70s and 80s are raped - in their own homes. Both male and female children, even infants, are raped.  Rape occurs in countries where modesty of dress for women is not only tradidtion - it's law.

To say that rape has much to do with the way a woman dresses, is to imply that men are under-evolved knuckle-draggers who cannot exercise sexual restraint when they encounter a woman they find attractive.

Rape is not about sex or sexual provocation.  It is about power, control and violence.

OfficeSupporter, your point of view diminishes women and undervalues men.  The only truth and validity behind the argument you support is that it is the product of values that are backward, sexist and ignorant.

OK

 

First off, I would like to say, that perhaps his use of language wasn't the most appropriate.

 

BUT he is definetly 100% right in what he has said.

 

I mean just think about it. Would you be more compelled to steal if there was a million dollars in it for you or one? Like seriously, if your showing off your ass, not wearing panties, wearing completely in appropriate tops that show WAYYY too much, I would say your chances of being raped may just be a little higher than if you were just wearing regular jeans and shirts.

 

Its all about incentive. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying women don't have the right to wear whatever they want but what kind of image are they putting out there of themselves and other women by wearing those types of clothes? It's pretty obvious-- your asking for some, PLAIN and SIMPLE.

 

Its completely unfair what all those so called "activists" are saying and doing against him for his OWN opinion. It's none of your business what he believes, get on with your lives, its his RIGHT. Also, if you really took the time to think about it, he does have a very valid point. I'm not saying it will deter all rapists, but definetly some percentage; and what can it hurt to be safe? Its a lot harder to be raped and picked out of a crowd if your wearing regular clothes than if your flaunting your stuff.

 

Enough said. Maybe you don't agree with me; but there is truth and validity behind the argument. No one can argue that, I would love to see someone try.

 

 

You don't even know what due process means!

Cops don't dispense due process - they arrest people and turn them over to the "justice" system, which then dispenses due process without any involvement of the cops.

Besides, my rights as against the police do not depend on whether I keep any kind of social bargain. It's their absolute and unconditional legal obligation to respect my rights. I have no reciprocal legal obligation with regard to whatever rights cops may have when they step out of line.

And finally, the "due process" involved in terminating someone's employment is nothing at all like the level of due process required in the criminal justice system. To equate them in this instance is to display a profound ignorance and a bias in favour of misogynistic cops.

If you want cops to give you due process, you should afford it to them in return.  Due process is not reserved only for times when it is amicable.

No, what makes you an idiot is the assumption that there was a perfectly innocent explanation for what the cop said that would have contradicted the actual words he spoke. An explanation, moreover, that could result in his keeping his job as a "diplomatic misogynist cop".

Except that as I understand it, he will *NOT* be fired.  But it's great to know that my belief in due process makes me an idiot.

You're an idiot. You would prefer to give him an opportunity to weasel out of being canned by letting him make up some phony "explanation" for his comments.

We know what he meant. He should be fired.

You have jumped to yet another conclusion.  I fully agree that, "Employing the threat of rape to lecture women on how they should dress is misogynist."  I certainly don't want to blame victims for their predicament.  I also accede that if everyone dressed like nuns, the overall rate of rape would not change.

I believe as he is a cop, he is well aware that despite all the rhetoric, everyone has an opportunity not to make oneself the target, which unfortunately means you will make someone else the target.  Making someone else the target by way of dress serves to protect you at expense of others but women should be aware of whether or not there is a statistical basis for that assumption.  (I don't actually know, and maybe the information doesn't even exist, so the officer would could still be out of line on that basis anyway.)

Regardless, it should have been an imperative to request from the horse's mouth what it was he was trying to convey, because right now he is going to get some sensitivity training, whereas if he come out and elaborated to mean what you think he meant, he should be fired.

The problem is that we jump to conclusions so quickly that we lost the diagnostic opportunity.  The consequence of your manner of dealing with this is that we potentially will soon have a diplomatic misogynist cop instead of an undiplomatic one.  Big improvement!

Everybody knows what the dumb cop meant, except you, apparently. He meant that women are supposed to live their lives under certain restrictions in order to avoid being targets of rape.

Employing the threat of rape to lecture women on how they should dress is misogynist, even though you can't see that. It's no different than the idea of imposing curfews on unaccompanied women as a "solution" to the problem of rape. It serves to blame the rape victim for not accepting restrictions on her freedom. 

I doubt it was the officers intent to be a mysoginist.  In all likelihood, one's attire is responsible not for the number of rape instances overall, but rather who ends up being targeted.  It would be similar to a crook roaming through backyards, moving along if (s)he sees bars on the windows and a security alarm sticker.  Such a hypothetical crook has already decided that he will commit a particular crime, but who shall be the victim is still in play.

The use of the word, "slut" is out-of-line of course, and that's not what I am addressing here.  Also, if the above was his intended conveyance, he expressed it without sympathy or courtesy.  We will never know of course, because no one bothered to ask him what he meant, he was simply attacked.  He will be disclipined, and in all likelihood nothing material will have improved from all of this.

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