What Was She Wearing: Rape Stigma

by kblai1 on April 14, 2014 - 7:58pm

Rape has long been a part of world history. In Ancient Rome, rape was referred to as “raptus” meaning violent theft, and this term was applied to both people and property (Jiloha 250). I would like to believe that more than 2,000 years later, we as a society could figure out how to stop assaulting women and men in this way. It is well known that women are the primary victims, but why is this? Are we considered weaker? The lesser gender? Unfit to fight back?

It is a shame that most, if not all college-aged girls and even some younger and older, carry some form of self-defense. Whether it be pepper spray, a knife or a blinding flashlight, these girls grow up knowing that they are at a large risk for being taken advantage of and raped.

I recently heard Jackson Katz speak at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York and I thought the things he said about rape were so well put. He pointed out that headlines in newspapers always read X Number of women were raped last year, instead of X Number of men raped women last year, as though the women just ‘got themselves raped’. There is always someone to blame in any criminal act, and unfortunately the victims in rape typically have to take that burden on their shoulders. This can add on to the psychological and emotion strain these victims are already experiencing (Jiloha 254).

In court, questions arise such as: “Well what was she wearing?” “Was she drunk?” “Why was she walking in that unsafe area late at night?” They expect an answer to these questions, as though knowing that she was a little tipsy makes it completely her fault. I strongly disagree with this stigma in our society. The rapist should hold all of the blame for not being able to control his or her hormones. It is not the victims fault that the rapist practically kidnapped him or her and then proceeded to rape them against their will.

Women should have peace at mind no matter what they are wearing or where they’re walking. I should be able to have a few drinks with my friends without having the thought in the back of my mind that someone might take advantage of that and rape me, simply for being a woman.


Jiloha, R. C. (2013). Rape: Legal issues in mental health perspective. Indian Journal Of Psychiatry, 55(3), 250-255. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.117141


Good post and stand point! I also strongly disagree with this stigma in our society. Why should questions like "what was she wearing" even be asked or acknowledged, this is a crime and the person responsible should be punished. A woman isn't asking for something like this to happen so it’s absurd that they even ask questions like this in court. I agree with you that women should have peace at mind no matter what they are wearing. I'm reading a book on crime and law and in this book it talks a lot about how they laws are set into place and how people are guilty. It relates to your article on how the court addresses crimes as you stated above, and sometimes how things are addressed in court isn't right. Good read , thanks!

I completely agree with your opinion about this problem and I found it interesting. I will write my final paper on the situation of Muslim women in our society and even if it is not the same subject, there are related. I made a link when you wrote that in court, questions like "what was she wearing?" were ask to raped women. One main point of Muslim women beliefs is that they are wearing their veils to have the respect of others. They wanted to protect their purity and they want to show their fidelity to their husbands. Rapist will be attracted by women who are wearing sexy clothes and because of that, their hormones will be activated. So, they could be tempted to rape those women. Contrary to Muslim women that are not really attractive for those kind of people, so at the same time, they are protecting their selves from rapists. I learned the exact definition of rape, which came from Ancient Rome; it means that this was happening many years ago. I found a article from New York Times, named "Health Guide", that is talking about rape and how people can prevent it. Preventions, information and symptoms that women have after they have been raped are developed in this text. "Health Guide" provide new information that you did not talk in your post and if people would be aware of the information of this text, I think rape could be reduce. If you want to take a look at the article, just go to : http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/rape/overview.html?inl...