A city in Malaysia has banned bright lipstick and loud high-heeled shoes in an effort to prevent rape.
An increase in conservative interpretations of Islam is occurring in the formerly progressive Malasia and now… a fresh batch of bannings.
This really makes me angry.
If you want to decrease rape, a crime perpetrated by men, why not target the men? Aren’t they the ones committing the crime? Instead lipstick becomes a crime?
Now I know some Muslim women support wearing extremely conservative dress and covering themselves, to different degrees of totality, as a node to tradition and respect. Some say it is a nice way to avoid catcalls and being harassed. But I have to say that when your culture forces you to dress a certain way in order to prevent men from getting all lusty after you, there is a problem. If men are harassing women, if they are going so far as to rape them, this is a male problem. Forcing women to be completely devoid of anything considered unique, colourful, sexy or beautiful is ridiculous.
I would suggest that the same ideology that promotes controlling women through banning articles of clothing, is completely responsible for men feeling that they can control a women physically in an act of sexual violence.
And in addition, our North American culture is in fact not as far removed from these ideas as you would think. A woman I met while volunteering at a rape relief centre, who had been raped, told me that people asked her all the time, what she was wearing when it happened. That is insane. But even an examination of the treatment of rape victims in court reveals that we like to parade sexual relationships as well as clothing and lifestyle choices as justifications for rape.
But trust me, a man who would never rape a woman, would not rape her because she is wearing a mini skirt, because she is drunk, because she said yes first but then changed her mind or because she already slept with the entire football team that night. And that is the point. When men stand against sexual violence and respect a women’s right to say no – no matter what, we are succeeding in preventing rape. When we tell our teenager girls not to drink or wear a strapless top because they might get raped, we are sending the wrong message: that it is a women’s fault that she is raped. And really, that’s not far off from banning bright lipstick, is it?