It’s been a looooooooong time since I felt the need to write to the editor. Even longer since I actually SAT down to do so. The result?
My response? Here.
Words cannot describe how disgusted I was with the letter from Normal Man (Some women do unknowingly invite advances, November 24, 2006). I am both appalled, disturbed, and truly disappointed that in this day and age, there are still many who would choose to blame the victim for the crime instead of the proper person; the perpetrator. From what he says, it looks like at the end of the day, women should be covered up from head to toe and not venture outside their homes so that they will not get raped. At the very least, there should be no sexual content at all in the world we see around us, so that there would be no sexual desire. Is this not childish?
While the writer may be requesting women to cover up so that the men who cannot control themselves will not commit a crime, is this not saying that it’s the woman fault? Is it not saying that it’s the girl who has to take responsibility for the man’s action? (Or vice versa). Might I point out the horrendous rape case of Nurul Huda, who was raped and sodomised even though she was a young child who was covered from head to toe? Might I remind Normal Man too, of the case of Nur Suzaily, who was raped in a bus even though she was covered from head to toe?
The letter written by Normal Man, while commendable for his courage, smacks of sexism and cowardice. No, I do not mean cowardice on the part of the writer, but cowardice that the rapist feels the need to blame someone else when it is entirely his/her fault for losing control. Cowardice that the rapist does not want to take responsibility for his or her actions. His letter also seems to suggest repressing desires. Repression has never been an effective solution. In fact, it is simply sweeping things under the carpet.
Please also note (this is a very radical theory of mine, but I think it may have bearing on this matter). Rape is a crime of power. It is not a sexual crime, it is a crime of power. For the average rapist, they would prefer to rape someone who had low self-esteem and would not fight back rather than someone who looks ahead when she walks, is confident of herself and would fight back tooth, nail and life (if it came to that) to prevent herself from being raped. Notice that a lot of rapes happen to women who are, as society says, decently and modestly dressed?
And yet, some of the most confident people I know are those whom society would say are dressing sexily and “are asking for it.” Yes, they are harrassed on the street sometimes, but no one would dare to lay a finger on them, simply because they ooze confidence. There are many people who feel threatened by such confidence, and seek nothing more than to bring these people down and gloat over it.
Certainly puts a spin on the reason why the enforcement and “moral” officers go after women who dressed provocatively, doesn’t it?
If it can be worded please let me know. But this is how the letter stands as of now.