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Perhaps if you dress like a stewardess for Halloween, you get a pass from raping yourself

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, October 31, 2011 21:15 EDT
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It's hard to bother responding to professional concern troll Charlotte Allen's "concern" that women are raping themselves with their slutty Halloween costumes. Allen deliberately misunderstands what Slutwalk is about, and basically claims that the only reason men rape is because they're uncontrollable animals who are easily provoked by a little skin into violent assault. I'm sure Allen would be thrilled to know the fundamentalist Muslims who make life hard for women in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia fully agree with her that women rape themselves by showing bare skin; the only thing they're quibbling aobut is when a man's ability to control himself flies out the window. Is it when he sees a strand of hair, a flash of ankle, or a bit of thigh? Misogynsts worldwide love to entertain themselves drawing these arbitrary lines of when they can safely say the lady done raped herself with her sluttiness. 

Jill, Lindsay, and Hugo have thoroughly debunked this nonsense. Allen's sole "proof" that hawtness causes rape is that women under 30 are more likely to be raped, and Jill neatly puts that argument to bed by demonstrating that victims of all sorts of aggravated assault are likelier to be young. I will point out that Allen has just encouraged rapists to attack women under 30, however. Since we know that women under 30 are, by Allen's measure, "asking for it", the rapist knows he can target them for rape with assurance that at least Allen has his back when he starts pointing the finger at the victim and blaming her. 

I have a couple of things to add to these debunkings. I just want to note that Allen's anti-feminist schtick is about an inch deep. She erects strawfeminists and knocks them down, and she doesn't really care if it makes sense or if she shows any signs of intellectual consistency or curiosity. Spit on feminists, cash the check: that's the game. So in this LA Times article, she writes:

But the fact that rapists tend to target young women rather than grandmotherly types suggests that in the real rape culture (in contrast to the imaginary rape culture of some feminist ideology), the faux-hos of Halloween and their SlutWalker counterparts marching in their underwear — like a man walking at night with a bulging wallet — should be careful about where they flash their treasure.

So, basically cover up you filthy sluts, or you have it coming when someone rapes you. Contrast that with Allen in 2005, when she blamed feminism for her and her husband having to endure—oh, how they suffer!—looking at middle-aged women working as flight attendants.

Frankly, even as a woman, I miss the old sexist days, when stewardesses were stewardesses: pretty young things in cute mini-suits and little heels who oozed attention onto everyone–because who knew? They might end up marrying one of the passengers … Why does feminism have to mean the triumph of the ugly and the surly?

According to Allen, feminism is wrong because it encourages young women to rape themselves by flashing their "treasure". But feminism is also wrong because it allows women who aren't sexy young things flashing their "treasure" to hold jobs and be seen in public. (At the time this was written, a blogger retaliated by putting up Allen's picture where she looks pretty middle-aged and surly, which started a flamewar. I realize the problems with that approach, but I still laugh and laugh to think about it. When you write rules, you should be expected to follow them.) So feminism is wrong for the sexy and the anti-sexy, right? I guess it depends on who's writing the checks. 

The main thing is that Allen believes that no matter what women do, they're wrong. And that goes quadruple if women are foolish enough to think that they don't deserve to be violently assaulted or otherwise mistreated by men.

As for my personal experience with Halloween costumes and rape, I will say that I did in fact wear a "slutty" Halloween costume around the guy who raped me. Our junior year of college, my roommate and I went as an angel/devil combo—basically a last minute thing cobbled together out of our closets and what we could buy at the drugstore. I was, duh, the devil, and wore a miniskirt and a corset-y looking top, along with fishnets and devil horns. (Also extremely cool gold false eyelashes that I would wear all the time if I could get away with it.) I'm not one for sexy costumes for the sake of it, but I was young and dumb and at least the costume called for some sex appeal, as opposed to some of your stranger "sexy" costumes. What happened to me that night was went to the punk bar, we drank some beer, we watched the band play, we saw our friends, and we went home safely. The guy who ended up raping me also just hung out, though if I recall correctly, he also broke up a bar fight in the bar we were at. The night he got around to violently assaulting me, I was not wearing a corset and a miniskirt. Nor was I interacting with him in any way—he literally saw five seconds of me that night, as I was sitting in jeans and a T-shirt playing video games with a male friend of mine. And then I went to bed, where he assaulted me, nearly 6 months after he saw me in my slutty Halloween costume. In terms of uncontrollable passion forcing him to assault me, I have to say that was an unbelievably slow burn. In my general experience, lust tends to work a little faster. And, if I recall correctly—which I think I do, since that Halloween was really fun—he didn't really seem to pay much attention to me at all at the beginning of the 6 month build-up of uncontrollable lust. Really, I think it's much easier to believe that instead of it being a situation where he couldn't simply stop desiring me and the drove him to madness, it's safer to say that actually he didn't really care much about me one way or another, and attacked me because he mistook me for someone who had passed out drunk (instead of someone who hadn't had excessive amounts to drink but was simply tired).  More a crime of opportunity born out of a desire to hurt women, and less uncontrollable lust. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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