The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Opinion: Clothing is not an excuse to victim blame

Rei Baxter
Many people blame women for being sexually assaulted because of their clothing. Oftentimes, reason for the assault is pinned on the revealing clothing worn by the victim.

She asked for it.

This phrase is commonly uttered toward women who are victims of sexual assault. 

The very prospect of blaming a woman for being a trauma survivor seems absurd, yet, somehow, misogyny has been so deeply ingrained in our society that a man can do no wrong because, of course, “boys will be boys.”

Victim blaming is inherently wrong. After all, it would be unthinkable for someone to say the victim of a murder is at fault. Yet, we blame women for a man’s actions against them. 

Women are not the only victims of sexual assault, but they do make up the majority of victims.

There are many reasons why victim blaming is rampant in sexual assault cases, especially for women, but one main reason is clothing.

According to a study by Jane Workman and Elizabeth Freeburg, people were more likely to attribute more responsibility for rape to a victim who wore a short skirt as opposed to a longer skirt.

Provocative clothing indeed tends to arouse men. According to the National Library of Medicine, men naturally get more aroused by visual stimuli than women. Additionally, when sexual stimuli were shown, men had higher activation in the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with emotion. With heightened emotion in the amygdala, the decision-making part of the brain, the orbitofrontal cortex, will react with emotional signals. 

However, just because a man cannot control his hedonistic desires does not mean that it is the woman’s fault for provoking him. Women may wear provocative outfits, but the man acts on those desires.

It is also important to note that not all women who choose to wear revealing outfits are doing it for the male gaze. Even though it may appeal to a man’s desires, ultimately, many women prefer their outfits for themselves. In some cases, a woman may choose to wear provocative clothing to feel confident and empowered or to show personality.

The consequences of victim blaming are apparent. Many women are already hesitant to report their assaults for various reasons, but when everyone believes it’s their fault, they are even more inclined to stay silent. 

According to the 2022 National Crime Victimization Survey report, only about 21.4% of rape and sexual assault cases were reported to the police. Data from the CDC shows over half of women in the United States have experienced some kind of sexual violence, and one in four have experienced attempted or completed rape

As this problem of victim blaming is so heavily engrained into society, there isn’t an easy solution. The blame needs to be shifted away from the victims and toward the perpetrators.

Sexual assault won’t go away in a day. However, ending victim blaming provides a chance for more people to feel comfortable reporting their stories to authorities.

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About the Contributor
Rei Baxter, Highlander Editor
Rei Baxter is a Junior at Carlmont High School and a staff writer for Scot Scoop. They love the arts, music, writing, and science. They hope to contribute more to the community this year. To check out their journalism portfolio, click here.

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